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“The state’s electricity distributor has been accused of wilful vandalism by one of several Sydney councils frustrated by what they say is excessive pruning of street trees.” See – http://bit.ly/1NkD6dV
That’s a pretty strong start to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the new pruning techniques used by Ausgrid that are causing considerable shock to the Sydney community.
It is interesting to read the comments of the Mayors of Sutherland Shire Council, Marrickville Council & Woollahra Municipal Council.
Ausgrid said, “Contractors were trained to prune to Australian standards to protect the health of the tree and to allow for annual regrowth, as part of a vegetation management that cost Ausgrid about $40 million a year.” And here is the threat – “Trimming trees more frequently would be inefficient and would add significantly to customers’ bills.”
From my observations Energy Australia came to my area to prune street trees every 7-8 years. When Ausgrid took over the reigns, pruning of street trees seemed to be happening every 18-months, though since last year, it appears that they do not prune every tree in the street. Thankfully, this stops the whole street looking like a war zone.
When Ausgrid started pruning street trees I thought this may just be a local problem. Lately I have been traveling around Sydney & have noticed that there are butchered street trees everywhere.
Part of the problem is inappropriate trees planted under power lines & the Councils are responsible for this. Ausgrid appear to be addressing the problem by making trees so ugly or unstable that they are unviable.
Many of our street trees are decades old & therefore valuable infrastructure. They should be managed with care until they need to be removed because of natural causes or some other reason, but not because they have been rendered unsafe or unviable because of Ausgrid pruning practices.
Many local councils are aiming to increase the urban forest because of the threats to livability caused by climate change. How are they going to get ahead when a large percentage of their street trees need to be removed or are rendered little more than poles with an insubstantial canopy? The community is paying the energy supplier to destroy their street trees & decrease their quality of life.
Ausgrid says they have to prune like this for our safety. Observation of the previous company‘s pruning practices is proof that such brutal & frequent pruning is not necessary.
When I talked to a pruning contractor & asked what he suggested as replacements, he said, “Shrubs or nothing.”
If you go to the suburbs of Port Macquarie you will see what streets look like when there are no street trees under power lines. I wonder whether the Port Macquarie community receives a discount in their energy bills because very little pruning of street trees is needed for this community? It would only seem reasonable.
Yes Councils can stop planting tall-growing trees under power lines, BUT a skilled pruner can prune taller trees making them safe without destroying the tree. You only need to go through the streets of Sydney CBD to know that this is achievable. Street trees of 3-4 storeys throughout the city streets have power lines going through or past the canopy, but the trees remain intact, tall & beautiful.
Ausgrid has a responsibility to the community to prune in a way that does not destroy their valuable infrastructure, their amenity & future livability with climate change. I have not even addressed the impact on wildlife.
One question which I have not had answered is why pruning of branches needs to be 1-metre below the telecommunications cable.
Magnolia are not only pretty, especially when in flower, but researchers have shown that “botanical extract honokiol, a biologically active molecule isolated from the bark of Magnolia spp. holds promise as an adjunct treatment for aggressive bladder and kidney cancers.”
Researcher Jun Yan found that “Honokiol significantly inhibited bladder cancer aggressiveness & tumour progression. 25-30% of patients with metastatic renal cancer cell line, 786-0 ….. have metastatic spread by the time they are diagnosed, with 5-year survival rates less than 10%.” Go the Magnolia tree! See – http://bit.ly/1VS5Wb8
A report on trees by the City of Melbourne Council says, “leafy streets boost sale prices by up to 30 per cent.” This is not at all surprising to me. http://bit.ly/1GIMGmr
This week more than 50 local councils will meet to learn how to grow & maintain an urban forest. The workshops aim is to increase the tree canopy to prevent increased temperatures due to the urban heat island effect & also to increase the physical/mental wellbeing of the community. Trees are very good for people.
Yesterday, the City of Melbourne with the Victorian government, released the Urban Forest Creation Guide to help local councils successfully increase & retain their urban forest. The Guide is an Australian first. I hope it is released to the public, as I imagine many would like to learn from this guide. http://ab.co/1KdBjY9
Eight mature Blackbutt trees have been poisoned in the garden of an apartment block on Homer Street Earlwood.
The apartment block has wonderful views, as it overlooks the Cooks River, Marrickville Golf Course & all the way to Sydney CBD. The trees are well-known to everyone who looks across the Cooks River from Marrickville & Dulwich Hill.
“The strata believes the trees were accidentally poisoned when land regeneration works were undertaken in April. A hired “bush regeneration specialist” used strong chemicals to kill weeds and unintentionally infected the gums, the spokeswoman said.”
I am wondering if the strata will take legal action against the “bush regeneration specialist,” alleging negligence & seeking compensation for the losses the property has now suffered.
Canterbury Council is investigating & taking tissue samples “to determine the cause of poisoning.”
“A council spokesman said the gums would not be cut down unless they started to pose a danger.” Let’s hope they turn these into habitat trees (see – http://bit.ly/1bTy5LW ) & also plant eight new gum trees very soon that will take the place of these trees when they finally do have to come down.
See – http://bit.ly/1BDQqsM
Australian singer Olivia Newton-John has launched the ‘One Tree Per Child’ initiative in Bristol England to increase their urban forest. See – http://bit.ly/17pJuRA
The ‘One Tree Per Child’ global campaign was launched in early 2013 by Jon Dee of ‘Planet Ark’ & ‘Do Something’ with Olivia Newton-John. The campaign’s aim is for every child in the world under ten to plant at least one tree as part of a school project.
Bristol is the first city to take on the challenge of ‘One Tree Per Child’ with 36,000 primary school students taking part. Not only do the children get to plant a tree, but they also receive education from experts about the environment.
Bristol City Council is covering the cost of the trees & tools. The school grounds will be planted first & the Council will find other sites for the remaining trees to be planted.
“Planting trees and shrubs is a great way for school children to connect to the environment & their local community. As a child’s tree grows, their commitment to the environment & their local community grows as well.” ~ Mayor George Ferguson, Bristol City Council. I think he is right.
I think this is a terrific initiative & the positive impact on the children taking part is likely to last a lifetime.
It is my belief that if you want environmentally responsible adults, you need to teach them the value of the environment while they are children.
This project is more than listening to words in a classroom. Being able to get their hands dirty while planting a tree actively connects the children to the environment & opens their eyes to the beauty & benefits of nature. It also instills a sense of pride & ownership. Being able to see that they have improved the visual outlook of the community, as well as provided food & habitat for wildlife would have an immense positive impact.
Children are busting to have the opportunity to plant trees. This is very evident every year when hundreds of children participate in planting trees on National Tree Day in Sydney Park.
I think it would be great for Marrickville Council to take part in the ‘One Tree Per Child’ initiative. Even if not all primary school students could take part due to lack of necessary funds, at least Year 6 of every school every year could. This is achievable & would help get our tree canopy above the woeful 16.3% that it is now.
The City of Melbourne has an interesting initiative that is showing that the community cares about its public trees. I first read about this last year & it seems to have taken off in the community’s mind.
The City of Melbourne’s Urban Landscapes Team had the quite brilliant idea that each of their 70,000 public trees be assigned an email address allowing the community to send an email if they had something to report regarding a tree.
This initiative did not cost much as the Council already had a comprehensive database on every one of their public trees. Every tree has its own ID number, so the community does not need to try & describe the location of the tree to the Council in any correspondence. The ID number provides Council with all the information they need about ythe tree, a bit like your medical file.
The initiative allows people to report problems with trees to the Council, but they also started receiving positive emails about particular trees & how the person writing loves them. In response, the Council staff began sending a reply email from the tree. How lovely is that!
I think this is a brilliant way of encouraging people of all ages to value the urban forest. I can easily imagine schoolteachers asking students to pick their favourite tree & to send an email listing all the reasons why they like it & thanking the tree for the benefits it provides. What an interesting way to get kids engaged & learn about the value of trees. Sending a reply could be fun for the Council staff too. See – http://bit.ly/1KdQZrh
The article also said that Eucalypts are Melbourne’s most common trees. Nice that they have an Australian native tree that provides a quintessential Australian look to the streets, as well as being a great food & habitat provider for wildlife.
The City of Melbourne also has a comprehensive & interactive webpage about their urban forest. It also allows you to explore the database, which is really excellent community engagement in my opinion. You can find it here – http://melbourneurbanforestvisual.com.au/
The following photos are examples of how Marrickville Council creates a habitat tree, which is a tree that would normally be removed because it presents a risk to the public or infrastructure. Instead it is modified to remain useful to wildlife.
These were on display in Council’s kiosk at the Marrickville Festival last Sunday. I did not go to the festival, but was fortunate to be shown these exhibits last week.
I found it extremely interesting to be able to look at these hollows & to see close-up just how small the entrance are. It’s one thing to see a photo or read a description & something else entirely to be able to see & touch a real one.
I think it was a great idea for Marrickville Council to create such an exhibit & feel happy that so many in our community got to see & touch these exhibits as I did.
You can read about habitat trees here – http://bit.ly/1034evv
Once again inequity of the urban environment has been shown to impact the health of the community, this time pregnant woman & newborn babies.
New research published in ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’ by researchers from Oregon State University USA, the University of British Columbia Canada & Utrecht University in The Netherlands has shown that that a leafy environment in urban areas has an impact on birth weight & full-term gestation of human babies.
Live in a green leafy area & it is more likely that there will be fewer premature births & babies will be born with a higher birth weight. The opposite is true for pregnant women who live in areas with less greenery & less green space.
“The findings held even when factors such as socioeconomic status, walkability, & exposure to air pollution & noise were controlled for…” http://bit.ly/1pUW7pl
The researchers think that reduced stress levels & depression, plus the ability to connect with others while out in green spaces are factors.
Mental health & connectivity have been the subject of recent research that clearly shows that street trees, leafy parks & green spaces all help raise the mental, physical & spiritual health of the community. In contrast, areas with few trees, & I would include good-looking trees, & few green spaces increases the incidence & duration of depressive illness.
Not only does Marrickville municipality have the least green space in Australia, but in 2010, Marrickville was found to be the unhappiest suburb in Australia according to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index conducted by Deakin University. Add to this the incredible increase in traffic in some parts of the municipality & I think street trees & green leafy parks are once again showing their importance to public health.
The more street trees, green walls, verge gardens & leafy parks we can have, the better off the health of our community will be. I also think that new high-rise housing developments should include green space. Now it has been shown that trees & green space play a vital part in the start of life.
You can read the research in here – http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1308049/