I really hope that street trees like this are not counted as real trees in Marrickville Council’s Street Tree Inventory.  It is one of many that have been kept pruned by the community. It would be unfair for these trees to be counted as part of the urban forest when they actually provide very little in terms of benefit.

Last August 2011 Council adopted the Marrickville Urban Forest Policy & Strategy. At that meeting Council asked staff to compile advice on increasing the urban forest canopy over 5-10 years & look at what other Councils were doing with their urban forest. See – http://bit.ly/MfVzaH

I took this photo early May 2012. In my opinion areas like Sydney’s North Shore can cope with deciduous street trees because when they lose their leaves the streetscape is not laid bare for 5-6 months of the year. Autumn across great areas of Marrickville LGA means a fabulous 3 weeks of colour, then many months with the predominant aspect of the streetscape being buildings & other hard surfaces. For me, the lack of green street trees in winter means that the landscape becomes harsh. Marrickville Road shopping strip is a good example. A harsh landscape tends to make winter feel colder for me. Anyway, it’s all personal preference.

The Marrickville Urban Forest update returned to the Council Meeting last Tuesday. I did not attend.

Marrickville Council’s paper said, There are approximately 22,000 street trees in the Marrickville Council area. In the current 2011/12 financial year, tree planting consists of 80 street trees & 12 park trees funded from the Capital Budget and up to 430 street trees are expected to be planted with funding from the Operating Budget subject to weather conditions.”  Total – 512 trees.

According to the paper, the Street Tree Inventory commenced at the beginning of June 2012 & is to be completed sometime in July 2012. “Council is proposing to allocate funding in the 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 Capital Budgets for preparation of a Street Tree Master Plan.” 

Council will use the i-Tree analysis software suite to assess the percentage of canopy cover across Marrickville LGA & consider making their findings available to the community online. The cost of compiling a “complete urban forest data entry & analysis in the i-Tree software” will cost up to $20,000.”

I wrote about this brilliant software available to anyone to download for free here – http://bit.ly/dQFuoi & the latest update here – http://bit.ly/MhcYm2

Marrickville Council sent a questionnaire to 11 Tree Management Officers on other Councils about their current tree management strategies.  7 responded – “Burwood, Canterbury, Leichhardt, North Sydney, Ryde, Parramatta & City of Sydney Councils.”

  • “4 out of the 7 councils had a holistic concept of all urban tree assets, both public & private, (such as an urban forest) that had been endorsed by the Council as part of its strategic tree management.
  • 5 out of the 7 councils had measured the extent of all urban forest canopy (both public and private).
  • 6 of the 7 councils had a stated goal in relation to increasing the extent of urban forest canopy. These ranged from:

– Providing for no net loss of urban canopy, over time;

– A general goal to increase canopy;

– One council which used international canopy cover recommendations to calculate target of 35.5% but the last measurement showed existing cover at 34% in 2008; and

–  City of Sydney Council is developing a draft policy, includes targets for 2030 & 2050.

  • 3 out of the 7 councils provided specific funding to achieve increased urban forest canopy (over & above normal maintenance & replacement planting).
  • 3 out of the 7 councils have a comprehensive asset condition register for all trees maintained by Council.
  • 5 out of the 7 councils have a Street Tree Master Plan or similar strategic document to guide the future planting of street trees. All except one had been adopted by council resolution.”

Marrickville Council says they “will be in a stronger position to commit to specific canopy increase targets when the street tree inventory & street tree master plan have been developed & if remote canopy estimation were to be undertaken.”

I was told that there was debate with some of the Councillors giving examples of people not liking street trees & the mess they create.  I’d say this dislike of street trees is higher at this time of the year because of the Council’s preference to plant deciduous street trees.

All you need to do is drive around to see just how many Prunus varieties & other deciduous trees there are.  If you consider fallen leaves messy, then many parts of the LGA are looking dreadful at the moment.  Me – I love fallen leaves & think they are quite beautiful.  I also would have no problem sweeping leaves out on the footpath without feeling that this is a job for Council to do, but I know many think this is only Council’s responsibility.

The report was noted, so the issue will return in the future, which is great because this is the only way we get comprehensive information about the urban forest.

Autumn leaves in Camperdown – I think this is pretty, but many hate it.

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