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I think many people will love the idea of becoming part of a tree when they die.

I think many people will love the idea of becoming part of a tree when they die.

I love memorial trees.  To me they represent life, beauty & a celebration of the life of the person who has passed.  I know that memorial trees are very healing for people who have lost someone they love.

I am excited to see that finally we can choose to have our cremated remains become part of a new living tree, but only in Victoria at the moment.  Let’s hope this concept spreads Australia-wide.

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in Melbourne is introducing ‘The Living Legacy’ program at all of its nineteen Melbourne cemeteries.  The program will allow people to have their cremated ashes turned into fertilizer.  See – http://bit.ly/1Tq1Oin

“The product will be incorporated into the root ball of existing trees so the person who has passed literally becomes part of the tree.   How lovely is that.

Not only will one tree be planted to commemorate the death of a person – “a further 200 will be donated to create urban forests in cities in Australia & overseas.”

The trees will be planted by ‘Greenfleet,’ an Australian non-profit environmental organization.  Greenfleet also have a carbon offset program where you can donate to have your carbon footprint offset with new trees planted in reforestation projects around Australia.  See – http://bit.ly/15RsP9A

Melbourne man Warren Roberts came up with the idea of ‘The Living Legacy’ program after the death of his best friend.  “He said he was not able to properly grieve her death for years until he spent time out in gardens, parks and forests, which was when he came up with the idea.” 

Because cremated ashes are toxic to plants Mr Roberts spoke to a number of experts.  He met & formed a professional relationship with scientist Dr Mary Cole who, over a period of two years, developed a method to transform cremated remains into fertilizer & the concept became a reality.

Not only will this program help grieving people.  It will also help reforest Australia, provide habitat for wildlife & help mitigate climate change.  Another bonus is that Australia’s cemeteries are running out of space.

Costa Georgiadis, host of ABC’s TVs ‘Gardening Australia’ is the ambassador for ‘The Living Legacy’ program.  He says, “If we can connect with the longevity of trees, then the baton that we hand to the next generation is spiritually significant.”   I like that.

Almost ready for my beauty sleep.

Almost time for my beauty sleep.

Today I learnt that trees go to sleep.  Collaborative research by scientists from Austria, Finland & Hungary used infrared laser scanners to study whether there were any changes in trees from day to night.

“Our results show that the whole tree droops during night which can be seen as position change in leaves and branches ….. The changes are not too large, only up to 10 cm for trees with a height of about 5 meters, but they were systematic and well within the accuracy of our instruments.”

The researchers want to do more work to look at trees water use throughout the 24-hour cycle.

More here – http://bit.ly/1TncrkP

Vandalised tree in Claremont Road Burwood Heights.  I love that the tree has been left in place with a sign saying it has been vandalised.

Vandalised tree in Claremont Road Burwood Heights. I love that the tree has been left in place with a sign saying it has been vandalised.

The vandalised tree can just be seen in-between these two fabulous street trees.  Such a shame.

The orange sign of the vandalised tree can just be seen in-between these two fabulous street trees. The vandalised tree would have likely looked like this beauty.  Such a shame.  Its loss to the community is considerable, not only in terms of dollars, but also in amenity.

Kudos to Burwood Council for attaching a large metal yellow sign saying, “This tree was vandalised” on a street tree in Claremont Road Burwood Heights.  The ten-metre trunk has had all branches removed for safety & just left there.

I assume Burwood Council has left the tree in situ so not to reward the vandal by removing the tree.   Every day this tree trunk & sign is seen by hundreds of people who drive by, further educating the public.  It is hard to catch tree vandals, but not too hard to make them live with their actions.

Claremont Road has a number of beautiful tall trees that look wonderful.  I think they are Tallowwood trees (Eucalyptus microcorys).  This one stands alone – a poor sentinel to the ignorance & selfishness of someone in the community.  I hope they & others like them come to understand the benefit of trees for the whole community sooner rather than later.  Everyone loses when public trees are vandalised.  You don’t need to be living close to the tree to be impacted.

Wonderful that Marrickville council planted  Queensland Brushbox trees along the Princes Highway Tempe.  Once grown they should help all the residents living close to the highway.

Wonderful that Marrickville council planted Queensland Brushbox trees along the Princes Highway Tempe. Once grown they should help the workers in the shops and all the residents living close to the highway.

Researchers from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research at the University of Sydney have released their review into the health impact of tiny air pollution particles, also known as particulate matter.  They found that most particulate matter is man-made & “could lead to increase in people reporting to hospitals with respiratory or cardiovascular effects.”

This supports 2010 research done by the US Health Effects Institute who reviewed 700 worldwide health-pollution studies. They found:

  • traffic pollution within a 500-metre radius of a major thoroughfare is likely to exacerbate asthma in children.
  • trigger new asthma cases across all ages
  • impair lung function in adults &
  • could cause cardiovascular illness & death. See – http://bit.ly/1MKStR8

The researchers from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research recommended that immediate steps be taken to reduce particulate matter pollution from the air.  Although particulate matter can come from plant & animal matter, the majority comes from motor vehicles, mining, power stations & even coal fire barbeques & wood heaters.

“On high pollution days we may detect extra cases of stroke, other myocardial infarctions, heart attacks, for instance, and also PM (particulate matter) air pollution has been linked to premature mortality…..  So it will bring forward those few extra deaths – particularly, we think, in more vulnerable people such as the elderly.”  See http://ab.co/1RP6teY

However, this study from the Lancaster Environment Centre has shown that –

  • “increasing deposition by the planting of vegetation in street canyons can reduce street-level concentrations in those canyons by as much as 40% for nitrogen dioxide & 60% for particulate matter.
  • Deposition rates of nitrogen dioxide & particulate matter to vegetation are much higher than those to hard, built surfaces.
  • Substantial street-level air quality improvements can be gained through action at the scale of a single street canyon or across city-sized areas of canyons.
  • Vegetation will continue to offer benefits in the reduction of pollution even if the traffic source is removed from city centers.” See – http://bit.ly/1UMfVQV

And, “The efficacy of roadside trees for mitigation of PM [particulate matter] health hazard might be seriously underestimated in some current atmospheric models.”

The ability to lower particulate matter is in the power of human beings.  Stop using coal power stations, drive less, ride bicycles & catch public transport more & don’t use coal-fired barbeques or burn wood for heating.

We can plant a tree on our property if there is space & create a verge garden on the street.  We can also lobby our local councils to increase the urban forest, as the Lancaster research clearly demonstrated a drop of 60% for particulate matter between the street & the row of terrace houses & these were only small Birch trees in pots.  Imagine what a good canopy mature street tree can do for us all in cleaning up the air.

Researchers continue to clearly show us that trees are good for people in a myriad of ways.  Our mental health & happiness levels, our ability to learn & our respiratory & cardiac health are just some benefits trees bring.

A street in Marrickville.  No overhead powerlines and footpaths of equal size on both sides of the road.

A street in Marrickville. No overhead powerlines and footpaths of equal size on both sides of the road.  For the benefit of all, there should be street trees along here.  

 

A Sydney Red gum is the latest tree to be poisoned for views in Carradah Park in Larkin Street Waverton. This is despite the effort to which North Sydney Council went to work with the community to choose suitable planting sites for the trees.

Nature-hating vandals have killed 19 of 20 trees planted in 2004 in this park. That is phenomenal disrespect for the trees, the environment, the rate-payers & their neighbours.

It is wonderful to see a local council take tree vandalism seriously. No namby-pamby utterances like, “this is a disgrace” & then quietly chopping down the vandalised tree to replace with the hope that the new tree is not vandalised or worse – giving in to the vandal & not planting a replacement tree at all.

I applaud North Sydney Council for taking action that strongly affirms the community’s disapproval of tree vandalism.

They have installed a big ugly sign in eye-catching red black & white with large letters saying, “WARNING. Trees in this area have been willfully destroyed by selfish vandals.”  The sign goes on to offer a $10,000 reward for information & also warns that if convicted, the vandal faces a fine of up to $1.1 million.

The council has also left the dead trees in-situ. Let the vandal look at the great view through a big ugly red, black & white sign & a dead tree. I can guarantee this irks their sensibilities every time the look out over the glorious view of Sydney Harbour.  I hope the council doesn’t cave in when requests start to come in to remove the sign & the dead trees.   To have meaning, both should stay for years. Dead trees can be made safe & they offer enormous benefits to wildlife, so there is not reason not to retain them.

You can read the article & see a photo of tree & sign here –http://bit.ly/1Ku8GJI

This magnificent fig tree in Clark Park Lavender Bay enhances the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Very few people want a treeless harbour. Trees have many benefits including adding significant beauty.

This magnificent fig tree in Clark Park Lavender Bay enhances the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in my opinion.   The view around and through the tree would change as you move from window to window.     Very few people want a treeless harbour.    They want the beauty that trees bring, plus the many other benefits.  It’s only the nature-haters that want to destroy the outlook for everyone else.

Marrickville streetscape.  There was more concrete behind me.

Marrickville streetscape – photo taken last week. There was more concrete behind me.

The news has been very tree-orientated in the last few days with Greg Hunt the Federal Environment Minister announcing that the government will have a vision for improved urban tree coverage within 18-months. See – http://bit.ly/1KvzEuO

The federal government’s plan for cities is to increase the urban canopy every decade to 2050 to “reduce heat within city environments and improve health outcomes.”

“Green cities — cities with high levels of trees, foliage and green spaces — provide enormous benefits to their residents. Increasing urban canopy coverage decreases heat, which improves health and quality of life.”

Finally the urban canopy is being acknowledged as a health issue!  Recent research has found an increase in respiratory & cardiac illness with more fatal cardiac arrests in areas with a poor canopy. Add increased depression & obesity & you have an unhealthy, unhappy community, which ultimately has a cost on all of the community.

Unless there is a change of culture, I believe these problems will only increase with the current trend of high-rise housing with little or no green space or access to peaceful green space, as many of our parks are being transformed into entertainment areas.  Therefore, an Australia-wide initiative driven by the federal government to increase the urban forest canopy can only be applauded. We can have high-rise & green space. Green walls & green roofs can be incorporated into new designs just as easily as a pool for example.

The federal government’s announcement might be alarming for those state governments which are removing trees at a fierce rate in the push for development.  In Sydney alone 400 trees, many of them large Fig trees that are iconic to Sydney are being removed in Randwick for the eastern suburbs light rail project. This is despite Randwick Council saying that the light rail line can travel the same route without removing the trees. A whopping 760 trees will be removed along the entire light rail route.

The NSW government’s response to criticism about the tree loss has been that eight new trees will be planted for every tree removed. Sounds good, but I will watch with interest at what species of tree is planted, how many survive & what the canopy looks like in a decade. I highly doubt the canopy will ever look like it did in the beginning of December 2015.

Even closer to Marrickville LGA is Sydney Park at St Peters where 350 trees are being removed to establish a construction depot for the WestConnex Motorway.  See – http://bit.ly/1OpHg63.  It seems that trees & green spaces are fair game for development, even when there are other options. Bushland at Wolli Creek is also threatened for WestConnex. The most expedient & cheapest way is to remove trees, yet the impact of doing so has far reaching consequences on both the community & the wildlife.

Then there is the 10/50 Code that allows for any tree to be removed within 10-metres of a home & remove underlying vegetation within 50-metres of a home without seeking approval because of bushfire risk. The North Shore & Pittwater areas of Sydney have been losing trees like they have no meaning.  The 10/50 Code offers a giant loophole for landowners to remove trees for any reason they like & according to Lane Cove Council, bushfire risk in the area is minimal. Still their urban forest has been decimated.

Globally 2015 was the hottest year since records started. 2011 to 2015 have been the hottest 5-year period world-wide since records started.  Sydney is expected to be like living in Rockhampton in subtropical Queensland by the turn of the century. See – http://bit.ly/1DM40tk Therefore, what is planted also needs to be taken into consideration if local councils want the trees to survive more than a few years.

Part of greening our cities, which also includes suburbs, requires a culture-shift of the community itself. Many areas of Sydney are defined by their trees – the North Shore, Pittwater, Eastwood area & Sutherland Shire as examples. Then there are suburbs with few trees, both public & private.

I took this photo in Bexley today.  This was one of a number of other street trees pruned like this.

I took this photo today in Bexley. This street tree has negligible amenity, except for the person who pruned it.  It adds no benefit to the wider community or to managing climate change

I think it may be a battle for a while until the prevailing attitude towards trees changes. To change public perception of trees, the government will need to embark on a strong multi-media education program. Twice in the past week I passed individuals in Marrickville who were casually pruning street trees into small stumps with no canopy.   That they do this in broad daylight shows that they believe that it is their right to do so & that they have little care or no conception that the street tree belongs to the whole community.

With luck, tree vandalism will become a rare occurrence, street trees will be planted in better conditions & the community will embrace the care of the tree by watering it while it is establishing & also during dry periods.

What will be wonderful in my opinion is that large canopy trees will become the norm because it is these trees that provide the most benefit & utility in cooling the streets & also in carbon sequestration.  It is also these types of trees that the federal government is talking about. I will be very pleased to see spindly street trees only used in spaces where there is no room for anything larger.

I will also enjoy the resultant beauty along our streetscapes when trees become more of a feature than buildings & where landscaping is used more often than concrete. Green walls & green roofs will be wonderful as well.

Lastly, greening our suburbs will bring wildlife in & support wildlife already here. Instead of the constant noise of traffic & planes, we will listen to white noise of bird song during the day & crickets & frogs at dusk. I know this to be true because the simple addition of some native trees & an under-storey has brought much wildlife to out place, whereas it was almost bereft when we moved in.

We have to change as individuals & as communities. Local Councils need to change as well. Much needs to be tossed out of current tree policies if they do not support increasing the canopy or the tree species chosen & placement does little to lower the urban heat island effect.  I suspect local councils will rapidly get on board with federal government directives, but I fear some in the community may find it hard to embrace an environment full of trees. We all have much to gain from a greener environment, from large canopy trees, to areas of under-storey filled with shrubs & plants & grasses & from being able to walk around without dashing from patch of shade to patch of shade.

Climate change will demand that everyone cooperates with the greening of our cities or we will suffer, cause our community to suffer & make it unlivable for future generations.

 

The sign by Marrickville Council. I am very pleased that Council is doing this.

The sign by Marrickville Council. I am very pleased that Council is doing this.

I am feeling proud of Marrickville Council. Today I drove up Salisbury Road, well-known locally as a lovely leafy street, even though it is a main thoroughfare. This is one of the few streets that has elm trees and sections where the canopy reaches across the road.

Quite a few of the street trees on the northern side of Salisbury Road have been pruned by power company Ausgrid and left a shadow of their former selves. The pruning is quite vicious with many of the trees losing a whole side.

My initial response was despair as I looked at the poor trees thinking yet another street of great trees has been lost. Then I saw a large vinyl sign tied up high on one of the more butchered trees.

The sign says – “THIS TREE HAS BEEN PRUNED BY Ausgrid. Contact Ausgrid on 13 13 65 to express your concerns. Marrickville Council wants to prevent this type of destructive pruning.”

(Sorry, no photos at this time as our computer is in for repairs. I will add photos once I get it back.)

I was extremely happy to see Marrickville Council making such a visible and clear response to Augrid’s pruning standards.

Although Ausgrid says their “tree trimming” conforms to standards, one need only drive, walk or cycle around the streets of Marrickville municipality to see that the tree pruning is radically different than it was when Energy Australia was the power company that pruned the street trees. Yes there would be the occasional butchered tree, but it was certainly not the norm, as it is now with Ausgrid at the helm.

Street trees that have been there since the 1940s have lost their shape due to recent pruning, where they lived happily with power lines and a cycle of 7-8 year pruning. Even when pruning was done, the trees were left viable and for the most part, with their beauty intact.

We did not have electrical fires and streets or suburbs burning down. Nothing happened. The community had street trees and electrical power. It is my experience of the past that convinces me that Ausgrid’s tree pruning standards are beyond what is needed. That Marrickville Council agrees with me also confirms my opinion.

I do not think is okay for Ausgrid to decimate the street trees leaving many unviable. This approach to street tree pruning not only has a negative effect on the trees themselves. Ausgrid pruned during spring when many of the trees were in flower. Consequently they removed a large amount of food that wildlife was dependent on. Spring is also nesting season and is the one time when trees should be left alone. It is even more important to consider wildlife when we now know that bird numbers are declining in urban areas.

The other impact is on the well being of the community. Recent research is quite clear that green leafy streets have a positive impact on human health. Trees clean the air from pollutants. If you only have half a tree remaining, it can do only half the job it was doing. Therefore air pollution rises and according to researchers, so does respiratory and heart disease, with more fatal heart attacks.

Then there is the psychological impact of less green and ugly trees. Again, it is well-known that a green leafy streetscape results in significantly less depressive illnesses within the community. Less obesity too, as people are more inclined to leave their house and ditch their car if they have pleasant streets to walk. The flow on effects of a poor canopy on public health is costly and accumulative.

Then there is the issue of climate change with COP21 recently finishing in Paris. Trees are a vital component in managing. climate change. The urban forest has a major role sequestering carbon dioxide and cooling the streets. Marrickville Council is trying to lower the urban heat island effect in Dulwich Hill, but how can they make any meaningful and lasting impact if Ausgrid comes and removes half or more of the street trees.

All power companies need to play a big part in managing climate change. Their aim may be to have no trees on the side of the street with power lines, but if this happens our suburbs will become much hotter. With heat comes heat-related deaths, sometimes in the thousands.

What Ausgrid presents as a simple community service to keep us all safe from fire, has multiple impacts and all of them negative. I cannot understand why the previous power company Energy Australia, who managed electricity and street trees for many decades, were able to prune street trees without decimating them and causing local councils to be outraged at the loss of community amenity. As far as I can tell, nothing changed except the attitude and practices of the new power company Ausgrid.

Marrickville Council hung this large sign high up in a street tree on Salisbury Road Camperdown. My photo does not show that a whole side of the tree has been removed.

Marrickville Council hung this large sign high up in a street tree on Salisbury Road Camperdown. My photo does not show that a whole side of the tree has been removed.

Stanmore Sydney.  Trees can define an area and act as landmarks.  I remember when this palm was planted. It was the early 80s and a number of  people I worked with actually went have a look because it was so unusual for trees to be planted in roundabouts.

I don’t have a photo of London, so here is one in Stanmore Sydney. Trees can define an area and act as landmarks. I remember when this palm was planted. It was the early 80s and a number of people I worked with actually went have a look because it was so unusual for trees to be planted in roundabouts.

London England has 8-million trees & these just been calculated to have a value of £6.1 billion.  Yes, billion with a B.  The trees also contribute a further £130 million in wider benefits.

The value of the trees was calculated by an iTree urban forest survey. See – http://bit.ly/1YpoWy8

“Trees play a huge role in improving air quality and remove 299 tonnes of PM10 and 698 tonnes of NO2 pollution across London annually.”

“Key services London’s trees provide include:

  • storm water alleviation = 3,414,000m3 per annum worth £2.8 Million
  • carbon storage = 2,367,000t per annum worth £146.9 Million
  • pollution removal = 2241t per annum worth £126.1 Million
  • It would cost £6.1bn to replace all of London’s tree canopy.”

A new partnership with Unilever & the City of London will mean a further 40,000 new trees planted. 20,000 of these new trees will be offered to London’s schools & 20,000 trees will create a new urban woodland in West London, which the community will help plant.

“The Mayor has already supported the planting of nearly half a million trees in London including 20,000 street trees along some of the busiest roads.”

London definitely gets just how important trees are to helping mitigate climate change, carbon sequestration, lowering air pollution, managing storm water, adding beauty to the streetscapes, as well as improving livability & public health.  Imagine how beautiful another 40,000 trees will look.

A truly amazing sign placed on a tree by Shoalhaven City Council.  The tree is in Sanctuary Point, which is located about 25-km south of Nowra & around 200-km south of Sydney.   Photo  by Gavin Swan & I thank him for sharing it with me.

A truly amazing sign placed on a tree by Shoalhaven City Council. The tree is in Sanctuary Point, located about 25-km south of Nowra & around 200-km south of Sydney. Photo taken by Gavin Swan & I thank him for sharing it with me.

“The spread of the built environment results on conflicts between the death of such trees and public safety. The importance of old growth remnants for native fauna habitat was recognised in the decision to retain the main parts of this tree and the numerous hollows it contains. It has also been retained to show the scale of coastal forests that once covered the area. SCC”Shoalhaven City Council.

How progressive is this!  I think this is a fabulous way to educate the community on the value of trees, especially old growth trees.  Hollows are incredibly important & they are being lost at an alarming rate.

It takes between 100-150 years before trees start creating hollows.  Eucalypts start creating hollows after dropping branches & we know that once branch-dropping starts, the tree is removed for the safety of the human population

“Australia-wide, 15% of all land birds use hollows. These 114 species include parrots, owls cockatoos & lorikeets, ducks, treecreepers, owls, owlet-nightjar, kingfishers, pardolotes, martins & woodswallows.”  ~ Sourced from Wildlife Notes, Department of Conservation & Management April 2005.

One of the least known characteristics of Australian animals is their high utilisation of tree hollows. For example, the proportion of Australian animals that use tree hollows is three times greater than in North America & twice as great as in South Africa.

About 350 Australian animals use hollows for either roosting or nesting. This includes:


  • half of our small bats, 
  • nearly 90% of our parrots, 
  • all of our gliders, 
  • all but one of our owls 
  • all of our tree-creepers. 

Nearly 20% of our birds use hollows in some way. For 60% of these, hollows are essential.” http://www.ozbox.net.au/anim&holl.htm

Of the 22 species of bats that have been recorded to utilise tree hollows in NSW, 10 of these are listed as threatened. (Gibbons & Lindenmayer 1997).

I am very impressed by this action by Shoalhaven City Council & hope that it becomes commonplace across Australia.

Lots of trees has transformed this park into a pleasant green space for locals.

Camperdown Memorial Rest Park.  Lots of trees has transformed this park into a pleasant green space for locals.

We were surprised to discover the City of Sydney’s plan to increase current canopy cover by 50 per cent could have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution than a reduction in traffic.” ~ Peter Irga lead researcher of a University of Technology Sydney study that shows the pollution reduction benefits of trees.

Today, ‘The Economic Framework for Green Infrastructure,’ was released.  The Framework is a joint effort by City of Melbourne, City of Banyule, City of Kingston, City of Moonee Valley & Victoria University in partnership with the Victorian Government.  The document will help local councils put a dollar value on their urban greening activities.

“The Framework identifies the key steps needed to value “green infrastructure”, and outlines a full life cycle management process to assist decision making. It also provides explanations around various approaches used to value green infrastructure.”

The evidence is becoming overwhelming. Trees, canopy cover & green space is vital for the health of the community. Without these things in sufficient amounts, people suffer from negative health effects such as depression. obesity, heart disease, respiratory disease & according to the University of Technology researchers, several types of cancer. Local councils need to increase their budget to allow for green infrastructure to be increased, maintained & built upon to increase livability, health & happiness.

To read more see – http://bit.ly/1SL08xj

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