The red arrow points to the tree removal September 2013.  The tree that has had all its branches removed is the magnificent tree in the centre.

The red arrow points to a mature tree removed in September 2013 – that tree has not been replaced yet.  The tree that is the subject of this post is the magnificent Sydney Blue gum in the centre.

Here is the Sydney Blue gum last Thursday.

Here is the Sydney Blue gum last Thursday.  As you can see, this has been a tremendous loss.  

Last week Marrickville Council removed all the branches of a Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna) in McNeilly Park Marrickville.

They gave post-notification giving the following reasons for removing all the branches –

  • “Major branch failure resulting in a large limb falling on playground area.
  • The branch failure left the tree in an unstable condition & it had to be removed as an emergency.
  • The tree had a history of branch drop with at least 4 major branches falling over the period of 2 years.
  • Last year council did some selective pruning to try & reduce the risk of limb failure, but as this recent event shows the tree was just too much of a risk to the public.
  • The structure that has been left will be turned into a habitat tree-arborists will be creating habitat boxes & holes in the trunks over the next few days.”

Council says they will replace this tree with a super advanced native tree species,” but not when this will happen. Hopefully it won’t be a tree species known for dropping limbs, as it is right next to a playground.  The tree removed in September 2013 has not yet been replaced.

I was cycling through McNeilly Park last Friday & stopped to take photos.  By good fortune Council’s Biodiversity Officer was there, so I asked a few questions.

All the upper branches have been ring-barked to attempt to prevent epicormic growth. Council expects that they will need to come regularly to remove new branch growth because the tree is still alive. An Arborist friend tells me that it may take years for this tree to die.

There will be 2-3 holes made for birds, such as parrots. A microbat box will also be attached to the tree.

A garden will be created beneath the tree.  I also heard that the garden area alongside the railway line fence is to be gradually filled with plants. I am very happy about this.

The branches removed from the tree are being hollowed out, to be laid on the ground in the garden area beside the railway line, creating homes for reptiles & other wildlife. Eventually this wood will decay & provide nutrients to the soil. I shall write of the benefits of dead wood in a later post.

Marrickville Council intends to use this ‘habitat tree’ as a teaching tool on how to create hollows & habitat boxes to other Councils & Arborists.

The loss of this tree is very unfortunate as we have very few Sydney Blue gums & they are magnificent trees. It was without doubt the most significant tree in Mc Neilly Park. Right now it looks like a scar on the landscape, but this may change once there is a garden beneath it & we are used to its presence.

This tree will also offer an education opportunity for school students, as well as the general community.

I hope that another Sydney Blue gum can be planted in Mc Neilly Park, perhaps closer to the railway line fence, so the community & the wildlife get the benefit of such a lovely tree, but with a much reduced risk of the tree needing to be removed if it is in an area where few or no people go.  I’d also like another shade-producing tree planted next to the playground – a species that doesn’t routinely drop limbs, as this was a very popular spot for people to gather.  There is plenty of room in this park for more trees.

I think it is great that Council has retained this tree for wildlife.  Dead trees & hollows are a natural part of the ecosystem, but are rare as hen’s teeth in Marrickville LGA.  This relatively recent change in tree management will hopefully mean that public trees that cannot remain for various reasons won’t automatically be put through the wood-chipping machine.

It’s a sad loss with what must be a good outcome.  I hope the wildlife use it.


I was told this was White Rot & the cause of the branch fall.

I was told this was White Rot & the cause of the branch fall.

Showing a hole made for birds.

Showing a hole made for birds.  There are two of these.

The poor tree from the bottom.  Another hole may be made where there is already a hollow being formed in the trunk.

What is left of this poor tree. Another hole may be made where there is already a natural hollow forming in the trunk.