There is heaps of space for street trees along this stretch of New Canterbury Road & there are no overhead powelines.  The streetscape looks so depressing to me.

There is heaps of space for street trees along this stretch of New Canterbury Road & there are no overhead powelines. The streetscape looks so depressing to me.

The December 2012 media release from the UMR-McKell Institute started with, “New research from the UMR-McKell Institute Sydney Confidence Monitor shows that people living in Sydney are significantly less happy than those living in other parts of New South Wales. Sydney scores 56% while the rest of NSW scores 72%.”

The research table showed that Sutherland Shire residents were the happiest in the Sydney region scoring 70%. The North Shore was not too far behind with 63%.

While the researchers made a division for Sydney East & City, they did not do one for the Inner West – lumping us all together as Sydney West.  We scored poorly on the happiness index with only 42%.  Only 10% of the Sydney West group identified as totally happy, 3% were unsure & the remaining 87% said they were unhappy to varying degrees.

It’s a huge area from the Inner West to Penrith, but remember, in 2010, Deakin University’s annual Australian Unity Wellbeing Index identified Marrickville as the unhappiest suburb in Australia.

Unfortunately, the UMR-McKell Institute Sydney Confidence Monitor doesn’t say why people are suffering from unhappiness, so this absence allows me to bring in trees & green space, as these are known to influence levels of happiness along with income, housing, public transport, bike lanes etc.

The North Shore Times said the following in their article about the research from the UMR-McKell Institute, “North Shore residents are some of Sydney’s happiest with new research ranking the leafy northside’s happiness score above the eastern suburbs, CBD & western Sydney.”  http://bit.ly/VAWPe6   The bold is my emphasis as the newspaper included trees as a way to visually define the North Shore.

There has been a bundle of research recently that clearly states trees, canopy cover & green space are fundamental for a physically, mentally & spiritually healthy community, so it does not surprise me that the North Shore would have higher levels of happiness.

Marrickville municipality has the least green space in the whole of Australia.  This must count towards also having the unhappiest community in Australia.  Yes we have street trees, but their average height is only 5.2-metres & so shorter than other nearby municipalities.  You just need to travel to Leichhardt to see this.  If you think it is because they have wider roads & footpaths, you just need to look at Erskineville, Glebe or Balmain.  These are very leafy suburbs with tall street trees.  It can be done.  It has been done.

The Forestry Commission of Great Britain published research called, ‘Trees, People & the Built Environment.’   They studied public housing tenants who were allocated flats in areas that had trees & areas that had few or even no trees.  The only difference in the housing quality was the presence of trees.  They found that “the tenants with high nearby tree cover had higher happiness scores than those with few or no trees in their area. In particular, tenants with nearby trees were more likely to say they were feeling relaxed & were thinking clearly than those with no trees. The results of the study show that our urban trees are not just something to make an area look nice but they may actually be making people happier.”  http://bit.ly/S8fjpR

Some would say money brings happiness more than trees do.  Disposable income does elevate satisfaction levels & make life easier, though the Deakin University Australian Unity Wellbeing Index Report 2012 said – “Happiness is bought at discount by people who are poor. For people with a household income <$25,000, an additional $6,000 buys an extra point of wellbeing.  At a household income of $151-250K it requires an additional $333,333.”   This tells me that money does not always bring happiness & you need more of it to keep levels of happiness going.

The research by the Forestry Commission clearly showed that trees within our environment play a massive part in our happiness whatever our financial status.  As such, priority should be given to green up our municipality by planting street trees & encouraging the community to plant a tree in their property if they have room.

Where there is new development, they should be required to retain as many trees on site as possible as well as plant new trees, not just low level landscaping.

Council should be encouraging businesses that have street frontages with garden areas to plant these spaces as these areas have a major impact on the way an area looks.  Scrappy, weedy areas do not do well with the human psyche & as such, do not contribute to a happy community.  The opposite can be said of businesses that look after their properties by having a bit of green if they are able.

Google image of the eastern end of Addison Road Marrickville. Many people have told me that this streetscape depresses them.

Google image of the eastern end of Addison Road Marrickville. Many people have told me that this streetscape depresses them.

 

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