Poplar trees in Steel Park. 10 trees outside the playground area will be removed.

Poplar trees in Steel Park. 10 trees outside the playground area will be removed.

Poplar trees in Steel Park to be removed.

Poplar trees in Steel Park to be removed.

I have been reading the extensive document – ‘Cooks River Parklands Plan of Management & Master Plan’ released for community consultation by Marrickville Council (now amalgamated with Leichhardt & Ashfield Councils & given the ultra boring name of Inner West Council).

While I will go through this document in more detail, I thought it is important to make a single post about Council’s intention to remove most of the Poplar trees along Marrickville’s section of the Cooks River.

This amounts to the removal of 27* trees & Council are doing this in a time of climate change when every tree is important, especially tall, mature broad-leafed trees with significant canopies. 

* My count could be incorrect.  I counted 12 Poplars along the Cooks River Foreshore, 10 trees in Steel Park outside the playground area & 5 others in Mahoney Reserve.  I did not include 23 trees in the Steel Park playground area, nor the 8 trees along the shared pathway at Mackey Park or the 4 trees on the Illawarra Road side of Mahoney Reserve.

All Poplars will be removed in Mahoney Park, except for the four trees adjacent to Illawarra Road.  Three are mature, one is small.  The same is planned for Steel Park, except for the existing all “structurally sound” Poplar trees located in the children’s playground.  It will be interesting to see how many of these trees will be deemed unsound & removed.

Poplar trees to be removed in Mahoney Reserve. The trees behind are mature Fig trees, which gives you an idea of the height of these trees. Poplars are deciduous, so they have lost most of their leaves.

5 Poplar trees to be removed in Mahoney Reserve. The trees behind are mature Fig trees, which gives you an idea of the height of these trees.

Council’s report says that the Poplar trees beside the river “are damaging water quality and adjacent plant communities.”   Such a grand statement, yet no information for the citizen who might care to know more.

Poplars are well-known as great trees for riparian areas because they stabilize the soil.  It could be that being deciduous trees, they drop a large amount of leaves, which this pdf document says is bad for waterways.  See – http://bit.ly/1TkdzHf

This pdf document, ‘Using Poplar Trees to Meet Stringent Water Quality Permits’ http://bit.ly/200LOUu for waste water says Poplar trees have the –

  • “Potential to utilize both recycled water & biosolids,
  • have high water & nutrient utilization compared to other crops &
  • tall dense structure can provide a visual screen for site aesthetics & habitat value.”  I am glad they mentioned habitat because these trees are full of feeding birds.

I’d suggest the massive & regular use of Glyphosate sprayed all over the municipality & importantly right at the river’s edge in all parks & along the Marrickville Golf Course would have a higher negative impact on water quality than these Poplar trees.  Give me trees over pesticides any day.

You can also see my post, “The Cooks River is crying’ http://bit.ly/1TUMwy8  showing some photos of the appalling floating army of filth in the river last weekend to see what the real water quality is like.  Will the removal of a few Poplar trees along a small section of the river actually make a positive impact on the water quality of the Cooks River when this is happening?  Seriously? 

Photo Taken 15th May 2016. Not only bottles and other litter, but look at the oil.

Photo taken 15th May 2016. Not only bottles and other litter, but look at the oil.

The report says Council will, “Progressively remove the Poplar Trees between Mackey Park and Warren Park.”

At Mackey Park the report says, “Implement recommendations for existing trees as per the Marrickville Open Space Tree Inventory 2015.”   However, there is no mention of the Poplar trees in Mackey Park.

The Poplar trees along the shared pathway at Mackey Park.

The Poplar trees along the shared pathway at Mackey Park with the river on the right.

I was told by a Council Tree Manager at the opening of the Mackey Park on 9th December 2010 of a plan to remove these trees.  This link provides a history regarding the loss of Poplar trees along Marrickville’s section of the river – http://bit.ly/1Yr6YLb

In February 2014 a post was made by someone on Facebook about the rumour of the removal the Poplars at Mackey Park.  I contributed what I had previously been told by Council.  The discussion clearly expressed community opposition to the removal of these trees.

As a result, Marrickville Council posted the following on Facebook –

“I’m very happy to let you know that Council has no plans to remove these trees at Mackey Park.  Please know that the ONLY reason council would consider removing a tree is if it poses a risk to life or property, leaf drop or messy characteristics are never a consideration for removal.  We LIKE trees – honest! Our aim is to increase the canopy.”  

I repeat – “…. leaf drop or messy characteristics are never a consideration for removal.”

It is my understanding that it is illegal in NSW to remove trees because of leaf & other litter, but it seems this is not the case for local councils.  I would suggest that if the Poplars are affecting water quality, then so would the Poplars in Mackey Park.  It seems contradictory to remove some, but not all of the trees.

The report also says that in Mackey Park they plan to, “Trim lower branches from foreshore vegetation to maximise views from the share path and new seating.”

The two new seats are being used daily & looking through a section of trees to the river does not lessen the experience.  There are many people who actually like trees as part of the view.  Not everything needs to be like watching television.  I sat on both seats & they both have a clear view to the river.

Plus, Council plans to install picnic tables next to the river, so there will be uninterrupted views of the river from these seats.

Marrickville municipality has had enough pruning of public trees in my opinion. Trees pruned to look like poles with foliage on top are not very attractive trees, except for palm trees & they are supposed to look like that.  All around the world trees are being hacked at, vandalised or removed for views.

These trees will continue to grow & their pruned trunk will get more pole-like as they grow taller.  The shade they produce will also be less.

Council also plan to prune the Mackey Park Fig trees that they wanted to remove in 2009 because it was believed they would shade a corner of the playing fields.  Fortunately, these trees were saved in 2009 after strong opposition from the community.  See – http://bit.ly/1WwqUhJ

The outcome was that one branch was pruned from one of the Fig trees.  It doesn’t sound much of a deal, but the removal of just one branch amounted to removal of approximately one-quarter of the canopy.  This tree only had 6 branches & a major branch of the canopy was removed. 

Only in Marrickville is a spot of shade not allowed on the corner of a playing field.  Cross the river & you will see parts of many playing fields affected by shade.  Sunset is on the river side so actually the shade of these trees moves towards the river & therefore should not cause a problem for the field, except for early morning games.

If Council really wants to know how the community feel about the Poplar trees, I would suggest that they employ a couple of market researchers to simply ask all the passers-by at Mackey Park & along the Cooks River Foreshore how they feel about the Poplar trees.  I firmly believe that they will hear again & again how much the community loves these trees.  Of course they will get a few people who don’t like the trees, but I believe the feedback will be overwhelmingly positive towards these trees.

Why?

  • They are unusual in that they are big tall trees with big fat trunks. This is a local rarity, except for some Fig trees.
  • They not only look great & produce lovely dappled shade, the leaves also sound wonderful in the breeze.   This sound is an almost instant stress reducer.
  • The trees mark the seasons in an extravagant way. They lose their leaves & we crunch them under foot or under bicycle wheels.  In spring the lime green leaves appear & the catkins flower.
  • Their dappled shade is incredibly lovely in the parks & they cool the shared path & Steel Park playground in summer. When you enter Steel Park on a hot summer’s day, the positive impact of these trees is palpable.
  • When they shed their seeds the ground looks like it is snowing in summer & it is lovely to see. And no, they are not spreading new trees all over the area or even in local bushland at Wolli Creek.   In contrast, the Casuarina trees are spreading like wildfire.  Even though these are beneficial native trees, managing their suckering spread by pruning the lower branches as stated in the Plan does not seem like the best management in my opinion.

I am all for native trees. In fact, I prefer natives, but I oppose removal of the few remaining Poplar trees along the Cooks River.  There is plenty of room for more tree planting & these should be native trees.  One last thing, the Poplars are full of birds & they provide a lot of food for them.

It saddens me that Council plans to use a large chunk of the allocated $15 million to remove mature trees.  Everything possible should be done to retain healthy mature trees because they are vital in the management of climate change. 

I will be writing more about the Plan for the Cooks River Parklands.  There are some excellent initiatives & I feel sad that I have concentrated on the negative aspects in this post.

In the meantime, community consultation closes on Wednesday 8th June 2016.  You can access the link at ‘Your Say Marrickville’ & download the Plan here – http://bit.ly/1DRISiO

Poplar trees along the Cooks River Foreshore. Poplars are deciduous, so they have lost most of their leaves. This is a glorious place to walk in summer. Lots of birds, cool dappled shade and much beauty. It is unthinkable to lose them.

Poplar trees along the Cooks River Foreshore. Poplars are deciduous, so they have lost most of their leaves. This is a glorious place to walk, especially in summer. Lots of birds, cool dappled shade and much beauty. It is unthinkable to lose them.

Two more Poplars to be removed along the Cooks River Foreshore.

Two more Poplars along the Cooks River Foreshorten be removed.

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