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About 2/3's of the tree was removed when he had finished pruning

The pruners contracted by Energy Australia are in my street as I write.  What was looking bad is now looking shocking.  While I was watching a worker came & said, “We have to do it.”  I said, “It’s a bit radical isn’t it?”  He said, “These are inappropriate trees for this area.” (stumpy Bottle Brushes) I asked, “What sort of trees should there be for this location?”  He said, “Shrubs.  Things that don’t grow near the powerlines.”  I said, “No trees in Sydney then?”  He said, “No.”

Judging by their looks of frustration, I assume that residents approaching them wanting to protect the street trees is a common thing.  Let me tell you.  You have no chance with changing their mind.

Hope our possum-friend will be okay.


While I was researching a Significant Tree Register I came across Randwick Council’s web-site & looked at their information on street trees.

Their web-site says the following:

  • Would you like some street trees planted outside your property? Fill in a Street Tree Planting Request form to apply to have one or two trees planted outside your house.
  • You can also be involved in selecting the trees for your street & take part in planting & maintaining those trees.
  • Sign on to Council’s Community Street Tree Planting Project. Randwick City Council has developed a Street Tree Masterplan. This is a comprehensive set of recommendations for managing Randwick’s street trees. It also sets out strategies on tree planting, principles for tree rehabilitation, priorities for conversion of overhead powerlines & the phased removal & replacement of inappropriate tree species.
  • The Street Tree Identification Manual lists the characteristics & requirements of each of the tree species recommended in the Masterplan.

Randwick Council provided 600 trees to SE Climate Action Coalition for 350 & brought everything except the food

This is a very sensible approach to take.  Residents are likely to water and care for new tree plantings if they have requested & been a part of the decision making process.    Allowing the community to be involved in deciding what species of trees are planted & where they are planted fosters community ownership & pride.

Having a manual of tree species suitable for planting would go a long way to stop inappropriate tree species being planted, as well as the resultant community anger & grief when the trees are removed.

Tree rehabilitation, rather than removal can only be applauded.  Many people, & I am one of them, become rather attached to their local trees.  Just because a tree is old or ailing, doesn’t mean it has to be chopped down.  Many tree diseases are easily treated & although this costs money, in the long-term, the community is richer for keeping its large mature trees.

Having ‘phased removal’ of inappropriate tree species will not be traumatic to people, the environment or property values.   I have seen all the large trees in a street removed & replanted with saplings.  If the saplings survive the long drought we have experienced while they are not being watered in summer and are not removed by vandals or people who don’t want that particular species or a tree at all, or being run over by vehicles etc, it can be years before the streetscape looks green again.

Removal of all the large trees, rather than phased removal does has an impact on property values.  Research has shown that a tree-lined street with a green canopy can result in 24% higher value in property sales.  Any Real Estate Agent will tell you that a property that has decent mature trees will sell for more money than the same property devoid of trees.  The same effect happens regarding street trees.  A tree-lined street with overhead canopy makes people feel good, which translates into higher property values.

I do not intend to relocate, (pity says MC) so property values are of little or no relevance to me.  It is however, something that to my surprise so many people are unaware of.   They apply to have street trees outside their property removed & cut down trees on their own property without thinking they will be losing money as well as many other benefits. This is as sensible as the person who removes pressed metal ceilings & federation details & spends money modernizing their property for sale to a buying community that is known to be actively looking for houses with original details.  The house will still sell, but Real Estate Agents know the dumpy house needing renovation, with intact features will sell for very high prices, despite needing renovation.

If you are interested to read about the benefits of trees go to the page “About trees’ in the left-hand column of this site.

Earlier this month I put up a post asking what had happened regarding the Eucalypt outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill, which had been earmarked for removal since June 09.  I wrote to Marrickville Council asking whether a decision had been reached about the tree & this was their response:

Saved to continue providing cleaner air, CO2 capture & storage, visual improvement to streetscape, $$, habitat & more

Saved to continue providing cleaner air, CO2 capture & storage, visual improvement to streetscape, $$$, habitat & more

The street tree outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill is the subject of further monitoring. You may have noticed a yellow paint mark on the trunk – we are surveying the tree to determine if it undergoing any increase in lean away from the vertical. We will continue to monitor the tree until we have a clearer idea of what it is doing. We will put something on the website about this.

This is terrific news & I thank Marrickville Council for taking the conservative approach to monitor rather than simply remove this beautiful tree.

This tree was the first campaign of Saving Our Trees, so it shows that community input does influence Council.  Thanks also to all of you who made submissions to Council asking the tree be retained.  It is because of you that it is still standing.  Considering the positive impact of large street trees on property values, I imagine many of the nearby residents are pleased that it has not been removed as well.

Saving Our Trees registered with to run an activity that would suit almost everyone – 350 Twitter Hour.  Or, if you don’t have a Twitter account – 350 Email Hour.

350 is probably the most important number in the world right now.  It stands for 350 parts per million Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which scientists agree is the upper safe level.  Currently atmospheric CO2 levels are at 385.84ppm & rising.  Anything above 430ppm & the planet tips into climate crisis.  People are rallying to convince all world leaders to make a decision to do whatever is necessary to return atmospheric CO2 levels back to the upper safe limit at 350ppm, hence the number 350.

There are many activities happening in Sydney tomorrow.  You can participate in 350 Twitter Hour before venturing out to a more active event knowing that Kevin Rudd is aware that you want Australia to agree to 350ppm at Copenhagen in December this year.

All you have to do is send the following tweet or email between 9-10am tomorrow (Saturday) morning-

Australia MUST formally adopt the 350ppm CO2 target at Copenhagen 09 – NO EXCUSES & NO DELAYS #350 #350TH

If you want to write something different, all I ask is that you include the hashtags – #350 #350TH as this will allow & us to assess how successful this campaign has been.

The PMs Twitter address is – @KevinRuddPM

His web-address is – & has a comment box where you can leave him an email message.

As one supporting web-site I came across said, “It’s just so easy to take part in 350 Twitter Hour.”  Let’s do something for the planet & everything that lives on it because it’s a very small world & we can’t afford to lose it.

A quick Internet search revealed that the following Sydney Councils have a Significant Tree Register:  Woolahra, Cambelltown, Gosford, Ryde, Randwick, Waverley, Strathfield, Leichhardt, City of Sydney, North Sydney, Camden & the Blue Mountains.  Perhaps more Councils in the Sydney region have a Significant Tree Register, but as I said, this was a quick search.

A Significant Tree Register is established to protect trees both on public & private land.  Generally, trees are assessed to evaluate their importance in relation to:

  • The tree’s historic &/or natural value
  • The tree’s social, cultural & commemorative value
  • Its visual & aesthetic value
  • Whether the tree is particularly old or venerable
  • Whether it is a rare species of tree
  • If it has horticultural or genetic value
  • Whether it has natural significance
Trees like these should be cherished

Trees like these should be cherished

The latest proposed removal of street trees pushed the importance of Marrickville Council establishing a Significant Tree Register up in my ‘to do’ list.   To my mind, the sooner this can be done, the better.  We need to save the remaining large trees we have left.

Not only will establishing a Significant Tree Register bring Marrickville Council in line with other Councils in the Sydney area, it will also have a massive impact in changing people’s perceptions about the value of trees.

I have a friend who lives in Leichhardt.  Her first response when I told her of the recent notices of tree removals was to say, “Leichhardt Council wouldn’t let you get way with something like that.”  This indicated to me that actions by Councils do change the culture of those who live within that municipality.

Our streetscape has been changing significantly with the removal of many of our large trees over the past couple of  years.  Saving Our Trees was only started 4 months ago.  Since then, 5 large, healthy & very beautiful trees in public spaces have been placed at risk of removal.  This is too many.

Marrickville Council, can you establish a Significant Tree Register as soon as possible please.

For those of you who are interested, here is Randwick Council’s Significant Tree Register.

Reminder: The deadline for submissions to save the ‘should be on a Significant Tree Register’ Lemon Scented Gum outside 139 Cambridge Street Stanmore is the 26th October & for the rare Silky Oak outside 18 Merton Street, 28th October 09.  A draft submission can be sent to you to make it easier.  Please do what you can to try to save these trees.  They are not ordinary, nor have they been hacked for power lines.  You can read more about these trees in the post – 11th October 09 below.

Tonight all Councillors voted with one voice transcending political groupings to make a submission to the Joint Regional Planning Panel opposing the development application as it stands for the RSL site at Illawarra Road Marrickville.

Marrickville Council prepared a report that recommended that this DA be refused on 16 grounds including, noise, traffic, parking & over development.  The DA will now go to the Joint Regional Planning Panel for decision on 4th November 09.

This is the first large-scale development to go before the JRPP in our area. I am very happy that both Marrickville Council & Councillors agreed that this development was not in the interest of the community.  If it glided through, it would set a precedent for much more high-rise & over-development in the LGA.  We now hope that the JRPP will listen to the community’s & Council’s concerns about over-development & knock back the application.

Today is Blog Action Day  I am joining more than 7,000 others in 135 countries to write about climate change.  I am non-apologetically passionate about the issue.  The more I read, the more afraid for the future I become.  If the scientists are even half correct in their estimations, it is going to be a very hard world to live in. They say these changes will happen in a very short time, probably within one generation.  Unless we make changes now, the world as we know it is going to change dramatically & not for the better.  We will likely see more climate related disasters like those that have dominated the news lately.  Major suffering of both people & other living beings will be a norm.  I think what we are leaving for our children is shocking.

The Great Barrier Reef is dying & we are doing nothing to stop this despite warnings to change our pesticide use in the region.  We are losing the world’s glaciers at a phenomenal rate.  In Patagonia, tourists are being taken to watch the glaciers crumble into the sea.  The glaciers in Tibet are not only retreating, they are failing to grow at their base.  They are the source of water for 7 major rivers that provide water for a good chunk of Asia.  It’s unthinkable to have no natural water for these regions where billions of people reside.

Currently, we have about 20 million environmental refugees.  Islands in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans are threatened by rising sea levels, so much so they will exist no more.  Not way in the future, but soon, within a few years.  We have lost so many species of animals, insects, birds & plants & we are continuing to lose them at an unprecedented rate.  Drought is going to be commonplace with 70% of earth’s surface expected to be classified desert by 2025.  These are just some of what is happening & I think too much to ignore.

Atmospheric Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are currently at (350.84 big typo) 387.84 parts per million.  350 ppm is regarded as the upper level we should aim to return to. Scientists think if we carry on with what we are doing, CO2 levels will keep rising & when they reach 430-480ppm, the planet will tip into climate crisis.  This is a dire situation for living beings if this is allowed to happen.

I am a fundamental believer in Think Globally-Act Locally, meaning there are things we can do in our own backyard that will have an impact globally if enough of us do it.  As this is primarily a tree site, I will concentrate on things I think we can do which relate to trees in our LGA.

Local Eucalypt

Local Eucalypt

Trees are magicians when it comes to life.  One large tree produces enough oxygen (O2) to support 2 human beings.  They also sequester & store Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in their trunk & branches continuing to do this their whole life.  The bigger they grow, the more O2 they produce & the more CO2 they capture & store.  Street trees remove 9 times more pollutants from vehicles than trees located further away from the road.  They prevent soil erosion & rainwater loss by absorbing water through their roots, leaves & trunk.  Trees also have a monetary impact in that they reduce power bills for cooling & significantly increase property values.  I have written more about the value of trees in the page ‘About Street Trees’ located in the left-hand column.

I think we should be leaving the environment in a good, if not better condition for our children & for future generations.  Our children have a right to a clean, safe world.  Instead we are leaving them with an uncertain future where even our oceans are expected to be so acidic that within 10 years, the shells of crustaceans will dissolve as fast as they can grow them, if they are able to survive such conditions.  I believe we also have a moral responsibility to other living beings; animals, insects, birds & sea creatures.

In this LGA, we can aim to have a tree canopy comparable to Sydney’s North Shore.  We can write to Council & our Councillors requesting that Council:

  • Not plant tall growing trees directly under powerlines or next to light poles because Energy Australia will only come & lop them.  If you look, a huge percentage of trees in our LGA are heavily lopped by Energy Australia.  It looks ugly & ugliness impacts on real estate value & on our health.
  • Plant tall growing native street trees in the spaces where there are no powerlines.  This will allow trees to grow freely & develop a decent canopy.
  • Cut holes into cemented areas along footpaths & plant trees in them.
  • Replace unsuitable saplings with native tree species that will provide food & habitat for birds & animals.  There are Ring-tail Possums living in our street trees now, yet the trees that are suitable homes for them are being removed at an alarming rate.  Ornamental Cherry & Apricot trees (Prunus) do nothing for our birds & native animals.
  • Install a simple PVC watering pipe into the roots of each new tree planted & establish a tree watering system like Ashfield Council, which will result in less trees dying during drought.
  • Establish a Significant Tree Registry to keep the few remaining beauties we have.
Beautiful David Ave Marrickville

Beautiful David Ave Marrickville

We can plant tall statue native trees trees in our gardens.  We can plant a appropriate bird attracting tree or two in the nature strip outside our residence & water them until they are established & in times of drought.  We can also plant trees in areas we know are wastelands & there are many in our LGA.  We can also plant suitable undergrowth that feeds & supports small birds.

Council’s magazine Marrickville Matters contains a coupon which allows you to have a free plant from the Community Nursery at Addison Road Community Centre, valid until 28th November 09.  Ask if they have any native tree saplings.

We can join local groups that actively work to help our environment.  There is a list of local groups with contact information in the left-hand column.  We can participate in campaigns to save public trees that are not in our immediate neighbourhood.  Many of you do already & I thank you for this.  We can also write to Energy Australia about their street tree management practices.  Their rules look to be iron-clad, but Mosman Council thought they created significant enough damage to their trees & had a public campaign about it.

I know there are many others who feel the same way about trees in this LGA as I do.  I also believe that the Labor, Greens & Independent Councillors in this LGA are also concerned about climate change & are not anti-trees.

People power is a wonderful thing.  If it is done peacefully & with respect, we are more likely to be listened to.  Marrickville Council & the Councillors do many good things for this LGA.  They are always asking for community input when it comes to development & infrastructure.  We just need to show them that we would like input regarding public trees as well.  I am sure that if enough of us do this, we will meet with a positive response.  Everyone will benefit; birds & animals will have homes & food, our health will be better, our property will be worth more, our environment will look nicer & our bills will be less.  Importantly, the change we create now will benefit our children & the environment in the future.

An amazing thing has just happened in Sydney!  Today’s MX newspaper reports on their front page that the City of Sydney Council is currently considering using Aerial Bundled Cabling, which will allow them to plant 10% more trees in the CBD.

Aerial Bundled Cabling is a process where the power lines are bundled into one insulated cable.  This type of cabling is used when Councils want to pass power lines through the foliage of a tree without chopping away its branches.

Marrickville Ave Marrickville - shocking

Marrickville Ave Marrickville - shocking

Energy Australia states they need minimum of 1.5 metres between any part of the tree & the powerlines.  Because they prune at the nearest growth point or collar, this mostly results in branches being lopped back more than the minimum required 1.5 metre clearance, often several feet away.  Plus they often add an extra bit of trimming to account for expected growth until the next pruning, about 7 years.  Often, the result is very ugly trees looking lob-sided or V-shaped.  You can view examples of trees which have been severely cut back in “The Shame Page’ in the left-hand column of this site.

The City of Sydney Council say their plan to use Aerial Bundled Cabling & plant 10% more trees could cut summer temperature by up to 2 degrees & reduce greenhouse emissions because they would not be using chainsaws & clippers to cut back the city’s trees to allow the free passage of power cables.  They plan to use Aerial Bundled Cabling across 268 spans & have identified 1700 spans that could also be converted to Aerial Bundled Cabling.  The cost for this will be $250,000, which is not much for such as great improvement.

I am ecstatic about this news & believe it should be the norm.  Many trees in this LGA stop at the height of the overhead powerlines.  They look ugly & stunted.  Taller trees, if they have been allowed to grow, often end up looking decimated.  Marrickville Council has removed many tall trees and is planting short-stature ornamental fruit trees that capture less CO2 and do not produce any food for birds.  My hope is that the City of Sydney Council go ahead with their plan.  Sydney City trees, people, tourism, birds, animals & infrastructure will certainly benefit from this action & it is the only responsible thing to do in this age of climate change.  We need good healthy, tall trees & we need to increase the tree canopy.  Maybe our Council will follow their lead.

Silky Oak ouside Merton St Petersham

Silky Oak outside 18 Merton St Petersham

Marrickville Council wants to remove another 2 exceptionally beautiful, tall street trees.  The first tree is a Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) outside 18 Merton Street Petersham. This species is native to NSW & QLD, is considered rare & its timber is valuable.  It produces prolific flowers providing food for nectar-eating birds.

Marrickville Council gives the following reasons for its removal:  1. Residents concerns about continuing damage to private properties & underground services.  2. Residents request. 3. Tree was not planted by Council. 4. Alternative solutions have been considered but are not practical in this case.

The tree is beautiful.  Unfortunately, someone has built up the ground around the trunk & put in a garden bed burying up to 30 cm of the trunk.  Because the tree is mature, it has developed a root system where 1 root is on the surface of the ground & probably disrupted the cement footpath.  It is hard to say because the footpath has been removed.

There are a few small cracks along the bottom of the brick fence of the property near the tree.  The fence appears to me to be as old as the house, probably built in the early 1900s.  Council can adapt a new cement footpath to accommodate the exposed root or cover the lot with permeable material, routinely used by Councils on the North Shore where they do anything to save trees like this.  To say “alternative solutions are not practical in this case” is surprising.  Council can also snip off the top of this tree to prevent it from growing taller.

According to research by Trees for the Future, a 10-year-old Grevillia robusta, 45 feet tall with a trunk 6 inches (15.24 cm) in diameter would sequester & store 29.3 kg (64.6 lbs) Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per year. CO2 Sequestration by Trees.pdf

The trunk of the Merton Street tree measures ­107cm (42 inches). Its diameter is 34 cm (13.38 inches), which equates to approximately ­­­­64.46 kg CO2 storage per year.

The DEADLINE for submissions is 28 October 09. Council plan to cut this tree down on 8th November 09.

Lemon Scented Gum outside 138 Cambridge St Stanmore

Lemon Scented Gum outside 139 (8) Cambridge St Stanmore

The 2nd tree is located outside 139 Cambridge Street Stanmore.  It is a mature Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia Citriodora).  Council gives the following reasons for its removal: 1. Residents concerns about continuing damage to private properties & underground services. 2. Unsuitable species for this location.

This tree is a prime example of a tree that should be on a Register of Significant Trees, except Marrickville Council doesn’t have one.   True, it does butt up against the kerb & the footpath.  It should.  It is probably about 100 years old.

Cambridge Street has numerous old & tall trees & this is reflected in high property values in the area. We went after it had been raining & the air smelt lovely. The loss of this tree will have a massive impact on the streetscape. The residents are worried about this tree & don’t want to see it chopped down.  One resident expressed fear that, once Council removes this tree, they will go after other trees in the street.

trees impact on footpath outside 138 Cambridge St Stanmore

trees impact on footpath outside 138 Cambridge St Stanmore

To their credit, Council have commissioned an independent report evaluating whether to install a root-barrier to limit & control root growth so as to protect property & infrastructure damage.  I sincerely hope they choose this option.

The trunk of the Cambridge Street tree measures 2.5 metres (100 inches).­ Its diameter is 79.5 cm & equates to approximately  388.2­­­­ kg CO2 storage per year.

The DEADLINE for submissions is 26th October 09. Council plan cut down this tree on 9th November 09.

Because these 2 trees have large trunks, all attempts should be made to keep them for the following reasons, especially in these days of climate change:

  • 452.5 kg CO2 is sequestered & stored each year by these 2 trees.
  • Almost ½ tonne of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere per year is something we should do everything possible to retain. Planting a new tree is unlikely to make any meaningful impact for many years & is very dependent on what species of tree is planted.  Marrickville Council is planting Ornamental Cherry trees (Prunus) as replacement trees for many of the large trees that have been removed. Prunus are small trees with thin trunks & branches.  They are not native & do not produce food for birds.

Both the Merton & Cambridge Street trees, being large truck trees, provide immense financial & physical benefit to the community.  Large street trees increase property values between 7-26%.  One only need look at the Cambridge Street tree to recognize its positive financial impact.  Both these trees have a major visual impact on the streetscape.

These trees will be chopped down unless the community moves to save them.  If you want to save these two trees you will need to:

  • Send a submission to Marrickville Council by e-mail or post before the submission deadline. or Citizens’ Service Centre PO Box 14 Petersham NSW 2049.  It is important to send your submission to each Councillor as well.  You can access their contact details by going to the ‘Councillor Contact’ page located in the left hand column.
  • These 2 trees are in North Ward.  It is usually beneficial to make phone contact with Councillors. The Councillors for North Ward are Deputy Mayor Fiona Byrne (s (Greens), Clr Cathy Peters (Greens) & Clr Laura Wright (ALP).
  • If you are pressed for time, you can write to me at & I will send you a submission to which you can add your name & send off or use as a base to write your own.
  • You can also write to both the Inner West Courier & The Valley Times local newspapers.  The Cambridge Street tree may interest the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • I would recommend local residents asking the local newspapers to write an article about these trees.  If you need help with this, please contact me.
  • Attend the Council Meeting when the fate of these trees will be decided.  The community can speak at these meetings.
  • Peaceful community protest can also be effective.  The Mackey Park Fig trees are a recent example.  Their story can be read on this website.

I will be posting updates regularly.  Let’s hope we can save them.  Jacqueline

Council said this tree was suffering from "whole tree failure."

Council said this tree was suffering from "whole tree failure."

I logged on to Marrickville Council’s website tonight to see whether they had made a decision on the removal of the Eucalypt outside 11 Union Street, Dulwich Hill.  This beautiful & in my opinion, very healthy gum tree was Saving Our Trees first campaign & the first post on 16th June 09.  Council stated the deadline for submissions was 26th June 09.  Then I waited ……. & waited.   The notice about the tree just sat there on Council’s Tree Management page with another tree that was sick.  By September there was still no decision.  Today I thought I’d better log on to Council’s website & have a look.

Both trees are no longer mentioned on Council’s page.  It’s always a surprise when something that seems static suddenly isn’t there.

I searched all over Marrickville Council’s website looking for anything which pointed towards decisions made about trees up for removal.  My search was unsuccessful.  I will contact Council about this on Monday.

Is it possible they do not put up notices of outcomes regarding public trees on their website? It seems unreasonable that they wouldn’t.  More likely that I can’t find the information. Regardless, I thought Council notified those who put in a submission when a decision had been reached,  just like they do with development applications?

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