I am always stuck by how green & leafy Erskineville is, despite the narrow streets.

I am always stuck by how beautifully green & leafy Erskineville is, despite the narrow streets.  There is lots of shade on the streets & it is a very pleasant place to walk.

I was very happy to read of the City of Sydney Council’s new initiative to add more street trees into their LGA by allowing residents to not only choose the trees, but plant them as well.

Called the Neighbourwoods Program, residents can apply for a grant of up to $10,000 “to offset the time & work involved in planting shade trees.”  As I understand it, grants will be available for groups of neighbours to plant trees in their street.

The residents can choose what species of tree they wish to plant & the trees don’t have to be natives.  This may upset those who lobby for the planting of native trees only, but will please others who have a particular wish for exotics.  I imagine the council sees this as breaking down people’s resistance to street trees if they are able to choose to plant what they like.

The Arborist for City of Sydney Council, Karen Sweeney calls this approach – equal opportunity for trees.  ”People should have a love affair with their trees. Trees are like puppies; they’ll be with you for a long time.”  

I meet a lot of people who talk to me about street trees.  The overwhelming response is a dislike or even hatred towards deciduous street trees.  We have thousands of these across Marrickville LGA, so that may amount to a lot of tree hatred.  I am aware that deciduous street trees are planted to allow sunshine to get through during the winter months, but for me, street upon street of bare thin witchy branches makes for a bleak landscape.

For others, deciduous street trees make for hours of sweeping & cleaning leaves off parked cars, with many doing this daily.  When one or more residents desire a street clean of leaf litter while others don’t worry about the fallen leaves at all, this can result in simmering anger.  I have been told many times of the “lazy” neighbour who doesn’t sweep up the leaves outside their place.

Almost everyone I have spoken to who said that the tree is bad because it drops too much litter has also said that they wished the Council would remove it.  Others don’t like natives & would prefer an ornamental tree or a tree from their homeland.  Perhaps this is why we have so many street trees that have been pruned to remain short?  A tree that is kept as a shrub is much easier to manage.

I think that the City of Sydney Council’s idea to allow residents to choose their own tree species will be a hit.  The fact that some may not choose to plant native species does not worry me because Sydney Council is planning to almost double their urban forest by 2050.  I am sure that the Council will ensure that there are sufficient native food-producing species for urban wildlife & so any move from residents to plant non-native trees will balance out.

In addition to this new tree-planting program Sydney Council plans to plant trees in median strips, car parks & public spaces, as well include special trees in a Significant Tree Register.  They also plan to educate the community on the benefits of trees.

The City of Sydney Council also surveyed the amount of hard surfaces they have & plan to plant trees in these areas to lower the urban heat island effect.  I love that Sydney Council’s focus is on shade trees.  A street tree that only creates a minimal amount of shade around itself & does not shade a good part of the road will not have much of an impact in lowering the urban heat island effect.  Maybe we will see more broad-leafed trees.

The Neighbourwood program is an exciting initiative.  We all benefit from lovely tree-lined streets, even if we do not live in the area.  To read more about this see – http://bit.ly/Y60X9J

I discovered this gorgeous Golden penda - Xanthostemon chrysanthus -  growing in Hurlstone Park the other day.  I saw another growing as a street tree in Petersham as well.

I discovered this gorgeous Golden penda – Xanthostemon chrysanthus – growing in Hurlstone Park the other day. I saw another growing as a street tree in Petersham as well.

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