You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Environment’ category.
Sydneysiders need to be aware & highly concerned at the rapid growth & loss of green space that is currently happening, plus the plans to take even more green space away.
Once the green space is gone, it is gone forever.
The loss of green space is a serious public health issue. Green space not only provides valuable habitat for wildlife, but it also cools the area around it. We need places with trees, grass & other vegetation.
We need green places for our mental, physical & spiritual health. Without access to decent green spaces human beings tend to suffer. People who suffer from mental illness can feel more settled when they are out in nature.
Recent research found without going into green spaces on a regular basis, people tend to get stressed, anxious, depressed, move less & gain weight. Many of us suffer morbid rumination, where we go over & over what we perceive are our failings or what is wrong with our lives. Just going for a walk where there are good trees can stop this mental thought process & improve our happiness & life satisfaction levels.
Green spaces provide us with a stress break in our busy lives & gives our mind a break from mental fatigue. Regular experience in the leafy outdoors helps improve work performance. It also helps improve our cognitive function, memory & ability to learn & retain information.
The intellectual development of children improves when they have contact with nature. Those who have ADD/ADHD tend to respond well to time spent in nature & have more content retention ability.
Research found that plants in the workplace resulted in decreased sick leave, so imagine the impact if there was nice green space for workers to have their lunch.
Those with Alzheimers or dementia are helped by being in green space & being able to touch plants.
“Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.” See – http://nyti.ms/2lmPlzr
It is a fundamental need of human beings to have access to good green spaces. By good green spaces, I am not talking about a small patch of green on a main street or in a shopping mall, though these do have a significant role to play in offering areas of respite & helping lowering the urban heat island effect.
We all need areas where we can exercise for free without needing to pay for a gym membership. We need space to let off steam, to run, to shout, to play games alone or with friends.
We also need spaces where were can walk or sit quietly – where the only sound is nature; the wind in the trees & birds singing. We must keep those we have & not over develop them.
In my opinion, Council has a fundamental responsibility not to turn every green space into an entertainment venue. Places must be left where the only entertainment is what you can see in the natural environment around you. If people become depended on things to be provided for them to do in parks, they will lose the ability to relax or amuse themselves with whatever is around.
As our suburbs become more developed, our stress levels are likely to rise just doing everyday things like driving & shopping. Already traffic is a major negative issue in the locality & parking is often a nightmare.
Our streets are also green spaces – or they can be depending on the species of street tree planted. Squatty small canopy street trees do not have an impact, but big, full canopy street trees do. Have a look at the streets that are fortunate enough to have 80-year-old plus Brushbox trees. In the evening on hot days you will likely see pockets of people who have gathered outside in the shade. Good street trees are excellent at fostering connectivity between neighbours.
Verge gardens encourage connectivity as well. People like to talk about plants & gardening. Verge gardens offer the ability to swap plants & provide cuttings.
Today the news reported that the Total Environment Centre has identified more than 70 green spaces across Sydney at risk of being lost to development. See – http://bit.ly/2nrf0qZ
This is most concerning. If allowed to go ahead, habitat will be lost, wildlife will suffer & in cases like Cooks Cove where they want to develop the wetlands in Barton Park (see – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi ) migratory birds, frogs & other creatures will die.
The report from the Total Environment Centre said, “Sydney will build 664,000 homes between 2011 and 2031, with 60-70 per cent coming from “infill” developments within existing city boundaries.”
We as the community will have to make our voice heard, considering the views of Anthony Roberts, the Minister in charge of Planning and Housing Affordability who said, “Anti-development activists are welcome to suggest ideas to me that will help us grow housing supply in NSW while protecting their favourite trees.”
I’ve got an idea Minister Roberts. How about leaving all the green spaces alone & not allowing development in these areas. It’s quite simple really. Leave the parks, the golf courses & riversides for the community & so people in the future can use them as well.
I get annoyed at the simplistic view of politicians who, whenever the community speaks out against developing areas like Barton Park wetlands, say they are anti-development NIMBYs wanting people to move out of Sydney. Do these political leaders not see another way in which green spaces & areas of vital habitat cab be retained for the benefit of the whole community now & most certainly for the benefit of future generations? It can be done.
We had three heatwaves in February 2017 & this is expected to get worse as climate change accelerates. Green spaces are essential components of a livable city. That or we take a risk every year that heat wave events will be more frequent. Loss of human life has happened in cities across the world as a result of heat waves. Our government warned us that the power supply was likely to be shut off because of increased use of air-conditioning.
The urban heat island effect is another serious health issue that is relatively ignored. Roads are still being covered in black bitumen as a way of maintaining them despite knowing that these are major heat sinks.
On 10th February 2017 the temperature at Blaxland Riverside Park in Sydney Olympic Park was 41.6 degrees in the shade. However, some of the soft play surfaces in the children’s playground were around 84 degrees. The road surface in the car park was almost 73 degrees. This gives you an idea of our future if our gardens & streets are not significantly greened & if we lose green spaces. See – http://bit.ly/2lxujhu
“As Sydney’s population is growing there’s more houses, less trees, less green, more roads … it’s adding to the heat. ….. The way we’re going – and adding another million people plus an airport, more roads, more pollution, more industry, we can expect 10 more extreme hot days a year over 35 [degrees] ….. It will become the norm. Without the proper designs [and planning] the problem will only get worse.” ~ Stephen Bali, president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.
I remind you that the former Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia. We cannot afford to lose any of it, not even a morsel despite whatever the so-called gain to the community is slated to be. We cannot comment on public consultation in either the Leichhardt or Ashfield LGAs, despite being amalgamated into one large council. Therefore, Marrickville’s abysmal amount of green space should not be watered down by including green space from the other two municipalities we have amalgamated with.
Council should be taking every opportunity they can to add to the green space by transforming suitable areas of public space. I think they failed with Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road Marrickville, the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt & the latest being the unusually large street space area on the corner of Canterbury Road & Herbert Street Dulwich Hill, though this is my own opinion.
The public space outside the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro is also an area eliciting much conversation within the community. All that I have read or heard has been negative. Whether you like what Metro has done is personal, but there is no doubt a heat sink has been created with all that concrete & tiling. It is also a big loss to see that a number of mature trees have been removed.
The Inner West Council said in a press release dated 18th January 2017 that they are negotiating with power company Ausgrid to pay the costs of removing trees damaged by Ausgrid’s pruning & the planting of replacement trees.
The press release says –
- Council are “targeting the replanting of trees damaged by tree trimming in many inner west streets.”
- “Council officers have been working with Ausgrid officers to nominate selected trees that should be replaced.”
- “Ausgrid has agreed to assess and mostly likely approve the removal of these trees.”
While I am glad that Council are negotiating to have Ausgrid pay for the removal & replacement of the trees they have decimated by their pruning, I have some trepidation wondering just how many of our street trees will need to be removed. If you look at the state of the street trees around the former Marrickville municipality, you will see that the numbers will not be insignificant.
Ausgrid have created an unnecessary loss of the urban forest & one which will have an negative impact on the community in terms of heat, pollution, stormwater management & the mental/physical health of the community, not to mention the cost to wildlife who possibly lose their homes & food source.
There has been a lot of research published recently that found that street trees provide numerous benefits to human health. The lack of a good urban forest causes problems such as increased obesity, more respiratory & heart disease, more fatal heart attacks & the latest, more incidence of dementia. Also, a poor urban forest is known to increase unhappiness & depression in the community & poorer learning in children.
Therefore, it is not a small impact to the community by Ausgrid when they pruned our street trees to such a degree that council thinks the trees will never recover & need to be removed. It takes years for trees to grow to a point where they are providing viable benefits to the community, so all the health problems listed above are another impact caused by Ausgrid.
There are other tree losses that are not covered by this negotiation with Ausgrid by Council. Just in my block one mature tree in a front garden was removed because Ausgrid removed one whole side of the tree leaving an unsightly half a tree behind. It is not only street trees that have been negatively impacted.
I applaud the Inner West Council for pursuing this action with Ausgrid.
Council is also looking at an aerial bundle cabling program, which is wonderful. Take a look at the streets in the Botany area to see what the difference can mean to street trees. Ausgrid will not need to prune so harshly if there is aerial bundle cabling installed. It is a much better option than ordinary powerlines, though not as good as installing powerlines underground. The last option is more expensive, but should be a condition for all new developments in my opinion.
Council in lobbying Ausgrid to develop an Inner West Guideline for tree pruning “sympathetic to our urban metropolitan environment – an area that is not fire prone.”
This is also a great move by Council.
Further in the press release – “The recent discussions with Ausgrid comes after Council late last year received a commitment from Ausgrid that their tree trimming contractors will continue to reduce the cutback they carry out on local street trees to achieve a safe clearance from power lines. New contractors are now being directed to cut a reduced clearance of just 1 metre from low voltage wires, plus up to 0.5 metre for regrowth for a maximum of 1.5 metres in total resulting in a much improved result for local street trees than previous more radical pruning.”
Then why are Ausgrid, just in the last week, pruning way below the telecommunications cable? The photos I posted in this post of trees in Fotherington Street Enmore & Renwick Street Marrickville are January 2017 examples of the new improved pruning from Ausgrid. Sorry, but this was not the norm when Energy Australia did the street tree pruning.
Just published research from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science called, ‘Future increases in extreme precipitation exceed observed scaling rates’ (http://go.nature.com/2iFybub) This research says we can expect “strong increases in rainfall during extreme precipitation events in Australia as a result of global warming.”
A 2°C rise in global average temperatures, is expected to cause an 11.3% to 30% intensification in rainfall from extreme precipitation events in Australia. Other areas will be more susceptible to drought.
The researchers looked at the likely outcomes of a 4°C rise in global temperature & found “a projected increase in rainfall for extreme events of 22-60%.” A 4°C rise in global temperature “is a likely outcome based on current increases in the rate of carbon emissions.” See – http://bit.ly/2jlUfMs
More intense rainfall extremes will likely cause a problem with stormwater, so it is just not an issue of sea-level rise, but also more rain, which has to go somewhere.
Nature did not expect that our cities & suburbs would be covered in vast amounts of concrete & other impermeable surfaces like roofs & roads. If rain water cannot seep into the ground, it will flow over the hard surfaces following the slope of the land until it reaches an area where it collects. Many of our streets do this naturally & become hazardous areas during a heavy downpour. Imagine what these will become during “intense rainfall extremes.”
In the Inner West, our sewerage / stormwater infrastructure is aging & “at capacity” – or so I once read in a Marrickville Council paper on the subject. The level of new development, predominantly high-rise, will significantly add to this load, so I guess we need to expect more flooding.
Inner West Council (nee Marrickville Council) has done quite a bit of work building swales & raingardens around the Cooks River. Once water is in the swale or raingarden, it can seep into the ground naturally. This process cleans it of pollutants such as oil, grease, particulate matter, litter, heavy metals & fertilizers before the water reaches the river or replenishes groundwater stores.
Until I read about it I had never considered that litter tossed in the street at Newtown or Enmore could reach the Cooks River & I am sure most people don’t think about or know of this either.
Council has also been slowly creating verge gardens for a number of years. These not only cool the streets & add beauty & pockets of habitat, they also help capture stormwater.
Things we can do to help with stormwater management –
- Choose to have as much ground surface available on our property. This means not creating large expanses of concrete driveways or concreting our back & front gardens. All water that runs off your property causes a problem somewhere else.
- Depave any unnecessary concrete in your property. Every bit of depaving helps.
- We can agree to a street tree out front if Council asks us & look after it if one is planted. Trees are very good at capturing the rain & holding it in the canopy. Rainwater either slowly drips to the ground or is absorbed into the atmosphere by the process of evapotranspiration.
- Create & look after a verge garden.
- Plant tree/s & add living plants to everywhere we can – ground, roofs & walls.
With all the development happening or about to start across Sydney, local councils & planning bodies would do well to insist that developers retain as many mature trees as possible on development sites. Instead of installing underground pipes to take stormwater from the site to the collective sewerage system, it would be better if they did not over develop the site & planted more big canopy trees & other vegetation as these would help slow down some of the stormwater. Adding a raingarden would be good too.
Our city is changing rapidly. Climate change is happening & expected to worsen. How well we live & our quality of life very much depends on how we create our environment. We will be much better off if we depave, if we plant medium to large growth trees & if we add living plants to everywhere we can – ground, roofs & walls. We need to start to plant to keep cool & to help manage stormwater.
Something interesting is happening at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, but I don’t know what. It is obvious that work is being done because the pond has been drained & large areas have been covered with netting. It was like this three weeks ago & everything had grown into jungle-like proportions by last weekend.
Canterbury Council holds regular working bees in the wetland & are looking for new volunteers. To register your interest & for more information about how you can get involved, call Council on 9707 9000.
This is the second time in the last month that I have been impressed by the Inner West Council’s actions regarding our urban forest. The first was meeting with power company Ausgrid where significant changes to pruning standards were agreed upon & Council elected to stop using the services of the tree pruning company. See – http://bit.ly/2diy0V9
The second was this week when council put out a media release titled, ‘Inner west councils demand Cooks River trees be saved.’ Now we are talking!
The issue concerns hundreds of trees that have been tagged along Marrickville’s side of the Cooks River from Kendrick Park in Tempe all the way to Strathfield Golf Course. Peter Munro, Secretary of Cooks River Valley Association, was the first to take action approaching the local councils to find out why the trees had been tagged. Unfortunately, the councils knew of this or who had done the tagging.
Viva Energy Australia & Sydney Metropolitan Pipeline own the underground pipelines. “Viva Energy confirmed an arborist had been hired after a safety audit of the easement raised concerns “about trees growing close to the two pipelines”.
The Inner West Council’s media release said that council “is working with other stakeholders to save up to 800 trees that have been tagged for possible removal by energy companies.”
Council wrote to the NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Lands and Water, & also to the Managing Director & CEO of Caltex.
Council also met with Caltex representatives earlier this week “to reinforce Council’s strong objection to the trees removal.”
Council felt that their concerns were heard.
“We are insisting that they consult with all affected councils and we are calling for all necessary assessments to be undertaken that measure the actual impacts the trees are having on the pipelines – not just assumptions made on tree and soil types.
We are also saying that this process must abide by all environmental laws such as the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Council has invested so much time and money to rehabilitate and improve this Cooks River corridor, any tree removal should be the absolute last option available to us.”
I thank the Inner West Council for taking action on this serious issue & for clearly setting out responsibilities & criteria for any tree removal. I believe that it was poor form for the Viva Energy not to inform the relevant councils of their plan to tag trees & their reason for doing so. Neither the local councils nor the community should have been left in the dark about what is threatening the trees along the river. This is our urban forest & we should be informed of any risk to it.
I also believe the manager of a gas company who told me a couple of years ago that the pipes are buried so deep that they would be unaffected by the roots of any tree. There are all sorts of modern techniques to lay or replace underground pipes without causing damage or necessitating tree removal. See – http://bit.ly/2e0mykl
I read this wonderful article titled, ‘Our trees are wiser than our leaders,’ written by Elizabeth Farrelly in the Sydney Morning Herald. See – http://bit.ly/2cXGvpV
Ms Farrelly writes about the Tawny frogmouths who are losing their home, a Swamp mahogany on Euston Road Alexandria because all the trees along here are to be chopped down for the WestConnex Motorway. Her article is more than about the birds. I highly recommend reading it.
“WestConnex is not just a war on birds, or on trees, public space, climate or the inner city, although it is all of those things. It’s a war on the kind of world view that values connectivity over objects: a war on complexity, in particular those complex systems we call community and nature. This is why it seems so blindingly old fashioned; a crude 1950s response to our complex 21st-century transport needs. It is also ultra-masculinist. “Men see objects,” wrote John Fowles in The Magus. “Women see the relationship between objects … War is a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships.”
“It’s happening everywhere. For Sydney the smell of woodchips has become the smell of death.
In Frenchs Forest, hundreds of towering eucalypts have been felled for the six-lane highway to the new Northern Beaches Hospital.
In Randwick and Moore Park, 10 hectares of tree canopy are to be destroyed for temporary light-rail traffic diversions – including the Habitat Tree and the Tree of Knowledge, already gone.
In Wolli Creek, endangered forest was recently clear-felled for a temporary construction carpark.
Across Summer Hill and Haberfield – already reeling from WestConnex demolitions – entire avenues of gracious street trees have been reduced to deformed and leafless stumps after the government relaxed regulations governing Ausgrid’s “pruning” under power lines.
And that’s without the Regional Forest Agreements that allow unscrutinised cutting in NSW forests and the Baird government’s cynical Biodiversity Conservation Bill, expected to dramatically increase land-clearing and decrease protections across the state.”
Sydney is changing. Sadly, our trees are being hit hard & this will have a domino effect down through the wildlife, to the happiness & health of the community.
I have been aware of this issue for a while since first reading about it on Facebook. Apparently, no local council knew or could provide reasons as to why the trees had been tagged or who was responsible.
It has now come to light, thanks to the persistent work of Peter Munro, Secretary of Cooks River Valley Association.
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald –
“As many as 1000 trees along the Cooks River are being assessed for potential removal by energy companies, which operate an underground network of pipelines running beneath kilometres of parklands in south-western Sydney. Hundreds of mature trees – including Moreton Bay figs, eucalypts, and casuarinas – which line kilometres of pipeline easement from Port Botany to Newington in Sydney’s inner west have been tagged by arborists to determine whether they pose a threat to the pipelines.” See – http://bit.ly/2cYuBK2
The underground pipelines are operated by Viva Energy Australia & Sydney Metropolitan Pipeline.
“A spokesman for Energy Minister Anthony Roberts confirmed his department was aware of the tagging, and said: “The pipeline route [was] being assessed for any possible threats to the pipelines. If any trees are identified as possibly requiring removal, the licensee will have to go through all normal approval processes.”
Around 2-years ago, I spoke informally with a manager of the gas company which was repairing pipes near the storm water drain beside Mackey Park. I asked why trees were not allowed to be planted along the riverbank as had been told to me by Marrickville Council a few years back. His response was to laugh & say that the pipes are buried so deep that they would be unaffected by the roots of any tree.
Therefore, I would question the need to remove any tree along the Cooks River by Viva Energy Australia & Sydney Metropolitan Pipeline.
The trees along the Cooks River are vital for the health of the river & the community. There has been much research of late about trees & their positive impact on the mental, physical & spiritual health of human beings. Trees are recognized as important assets & a public health issue.
The Cooks River & the riverbanks are classified as a ‘biodiversity corridor.’ They support a wide range of wildlife, which is growing due to the good work being done by local councils & Sydney Water to increase the biodiversity & restore the riverbanks.
There would need to be a very good reason why any tree would need to be removed from this location, let alone 1,000 trees. The impact of removing hundreds of trees would be massive & not only destructive to the environment & the wildlife that rely on the trees, but also throwing away the time, hard work & ratepayers money that has gone into re-vegetating the riverbanks.
I believe the manager who told me that the trees were no threat to the the deeply buried pipelines. So, I am not persuaded that anyone considering tree removal along the Cooks River has made their case.
It was great to watch a video about the Cooks River by Tony Burke MP, Labor Member for Watson & Shadow Minister for Environment & Water. This short, but encouraging video was filmed yesterday.
He speaks about the history of the Cooks River & says, “The job for the local area now is to try year after year to return it into a beautiful environmental asset for our local area. To replace the concrete with real river banks & to clean up the water.”
You can watch the video called, ‘Cooks River’ here – https://www.facebook.com/burke.tony.mp/videos