A lovely fig trees in Marrickville Golf Course.

Every year, between 3 & 4 million people around the world die as a result of air pollution & its lifelong impacts on human health, from asthma to cardiac disease to strokes.  

Each summer, thousands of unnecessary deaths result from heat waves in urban areas. Studies have shown that trees are a cost-effective solution for both of these challenges. 

And too often, the presence or absence of urban nature – & its myriad benefits – is tied to a neighbourhood’s income level, resulting in dramatic health inequities.  In some American cities, life expectations in different neighbourhoods, located just a few miles apart, can differ by as much as a decade.  Not all of this health disparity is connected to tree cover, but researchers are increasingly finding that neighbourhoods with fewer trees have worse health outcomes, so inequity in access to urban nature makes worse health inequities.”  ~ The Nature Conservancy 2017.

The report may have been about America’s urban forest, but it makes no difference.  The findings are useful world-wide, including our little patch in Sydney’s Inner West.

In my assessment the quality of the urban forest & the canopy cover of the former Marrickville municipality has not changed since the 2014 report, ‘Benchmarking Australia’s Urban Tree Canopy: An i–Tree Assessment, Final Report.’

Now we are amalgamated with Ashfield & Leichhardt municipalities, their urban forest becomes our concern & visa versa.  In 2014 the three municipalities scored the following –

Leichhardt was the winner with a 20.3% tree canopy & 59.8% hard surfaces.

Ashfield won second place with a 19.8% tree cover & 57.4% hard surfaces.

Marrickville came last with an abysmal 16.3% tree canopy & 63.4% hard surfaces.

This is not to say Inner West Council – Marrickville are not planting trees.  They are. They reported that they planted 1,000 street trees across the three former municipalities, which I think is not much & not nearly what is needed.   Council also removes trees.  Development is having an impact on the canopy & so is vandalism.  WestConnex is having a massive impact on tree removal along its above ground route.

I am not familiar with Ashfield, but having lived in the Inner West for the past 40-years, I am familiar with many of the streetscapes across the former Leichhardt & Marrickville municipalities.   I look at street trees that have been there for more than my 40-years & this is a great thing to see.  I am one of those people who love to look at trees.  They make me feel comfortable.  Treeless landscapes or skylines make me feel flat & oppressed.   Recent research has found my response is normal.  The research found that few trees in the landscape results in greater rates of depression & kids finding it hard to learn & retain information amongst other things.

My wish for 2018 is for the Inner West Council to significantly increase funding for street trees, parks & other green spaces.   If our area is to be made greener & healthier for us, then the number of street trees & park trees planted need to increase substantially.   More trees please.

It takes at least a decade for most trees to grow to a size where they have a visual impact, so if we are to get the amenity from trees like shade & clean air, then we need to get trees into the ground as soon as possible.    I say “most” because I have seen how fast a Poplar takes to reach a significant height.  These trees grow so fast you can almost watch it happen.

No-one can deny that it is hard being out on the streets in this hot summer weather.  I’ve been out most days & noticed that a lot of people are not coming out of their homes until 4pm or later due to the heat & lack of shade.

We in the community need to do our bit too.  We need to plant a tree or shrub in our garden if we have the space to do so.  We also need to make concrete gardens a thing of the past & give stamped concrete driveways the flick too.  These only make our house hotter & we pay higher power bills as a result.

I was very impressed with Inner West Council – Marrickville’s free tree giveaway for 2016-2017. It is a terrific initiative & will build upon the urban forest.  I hope the tree giveaway becomes a regular feature for National Tree Day.

Community attitudes toward trees are changing.  I have noticed more people like & want public trees compared to when I started this blog in 2009, which is  great & something Council should capitalise on.

With climate change making our seasons hotter, we need to make the changes that will cool down our streets & public spaces & planting trees is a major way to achieve this.  Plus, trees are beautiful & soften the landscape.  They make us feel good even when we are not aware of this.  They help keep us healthy & happy & they bring in more wildlife.    So, let’s make 2018 the year of tree awareness & get more trees in the ground.

Happy New Year.  I hope this is an excellent year for you & your loved ones.  Thank you for reading.  I appreciate it.  Jacqueline 🙂

Council did well to plant a gum tree here in this perfect place on Myrtle Street Marrickville, but someone did not think so.  It was vandalised 3 times….until it was dead. Thanks – not.