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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/
It happened two years ago, but I’ve just seen it.
“The City of Playford has commenced a program of retaining selected standing dead street trees for their habitat value – this video explains the process and details the first such tree to be created, on Judd Road in Elizabeth, in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia.”
The tree is a ancient Red gum & a street tree. Interestingly, the Arborist carved the ends of the branches to create more natural aesthetics & also to provide homes for insects. Natural holes were used to create access holes to man-made hollows. This has been happening in Europe.
The video is almost 18-minutes long, but worth watching for the information it provides. It is interesting watch the Arborist create the hollows with a chainsaw.
Playford Council also provided native plants to the resident to add to the local biodiversity close to the habitat tree. It’s great to see such enthusiasm from all involved, including the resident who lives closest to the street tree. It’s a wonderful video.
To watch see – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPLWrmMjmnc
City of Sydney Council has recently created two ‘habitat trees’ in Sydney Park. Both trees are Eucalypts & are located close to the lower pond. They are surrounded by other tall trees & so would make attractive homes for wildlife.
A significant difference from the ‘habitat tree’ created by Marrickville Council in McNeilly Park is that the branches have not been ring-barked – at least it had not been done when I saw these trees. It appears that Sydney Council has created more holes in each tree than the one in McNeilly Park.
Like Marrickville Council, the City of Sydney Council is also using these trees as a demonstration for professionals on to how to create nesting hollows for birds & animals.
I really like this movement to retain trees that would have been removed previously. The idea is to mimic dead trees found in the bush.
The more I read about dead trees the more I realize how important these old dead trees are to the ecology of the environment. Standing dead trees in the bush are called snags & stag trees.
Only old trees have hollows & these trees often need to be 100-150 years old before they 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).
Repurposing trees that would have been removed so that they become useful for wildlife is a great idea. Tree hollows in urban environments are very rare. I look at trees all the time, but only know of three trees on public land in Marrickville LGA that have natural hollows. I applaud this move to help wildlife & improve on biodiversity by both Councils. It will be interesting to see what wildlife do take up residence in these hollows.
Tree-planting volunteers in Western Australia are waiting for official confirmation of a new Guinness World Record after planting more than 100,000 tree seedlings in one hour. How fantastic is that!
The current record holder is India with a record of 99,103 trees, which was set in 2012.
The event organized by the ‘Men of the Trees,’ who are well known for their tree planting, gathered more than 2,200 volunteers in Whiteman Park in Perth. Twelve hundred participants were school children.
Confirmation from Guinness World Record should happen within the next two weeks.
See – http://ab.co/1l2PZKN
I love it when I receive emails pointing me to media articles that prove to me that my observations about Marrickville’s urban forest are correct. An article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph said –
“A survey of the city’s tree canopy shows Botany Bay has fewer trees than any other suburb, with just 12 per cent leaf cover.
Next comes nearby Randwick, with 14 per cent, and beachside Waverley is also near the bottom with only 17 per cent. Other suburbs under 20 per cent include Auburn, Marrickville, Holroyd and Strathfield.”
Suburbs blessed with a tree canopy of above 50% were Pittwater, Warringah & Ku-ring-gai. Suburbs with more than 30% canopy were Lane Cove, Hunters Hill & Ryde. Manly, North Sydney, Penrith, Liverpool & Burwood followed. These statistics were gathered by the University of Technology Sydney & compiled by the 202020 Vision.
The 202020 Vision is a national initiative that includes government, local councils, the private sector, individuals & academics. The initiative was launched in November 2013, well before Marrickville Council’s new Street Tree Master Plan was released.
The 202020 Vision has the wonderful aim to increase urban green space by 20% by 2020. They want more trees, gardens, green walls & green roofs, because these will improve the livability of our suburbs & cities, as well as the health & wellbeing of the community & wildlife. The use of hard surfaces, increased development & a rising population is creating urban heat islands & poor air quality.
Of course the urban forest & public trees are a major part of this. I have heard some of the Marrickville Councillors saying on a number of occasions in Council Meetings that we have enough public trees & one even said that we may even have too many. Another Councillor even wanted all the street trees removed from the historic Abergeldie Estate in Dulwich Hill.
I must say that I find it exciting to see a strong movement to increase the canopy of Sydney. To me trees are a public health issue & the research backs me up on this. Maybe one day Marrickville Council will publicize on their website & in newsletters such as ‘Marrickville Matters’ just how many trees they target to plant & how many they actually planted each year. That would be good.
I will post more about the 202020 Vision soon. To read the Sunday Telegraph’s article, see – http://bit.ly/1zixCtJ
Next Sunday 27th July is National Tree Day. To commemorate this day, the National Trusts of Australia has, in a world first, put together a national register of 25,000 significant trees. Information about these trees will be available on a new website & also available as an app. This means that you can look for significant trees while you are out traveling the country.
You can also nominate any tree that you think is significant. The tree/s you nominate will be assessed by the Significant Trees Committee for each state ot territoty to see if they are suitable for inclusion in the Register.
This is not just about celebrating trees, but also about their protection. A registered significant tree has a greater chance of being protected from development. Not always, but any tree is safer being on a National Trust Register.
To get a national map like this is very special & I predict that it will be a popular download both for residents & visitors to Australia.
The National Trust of Victoria has an excellent free app that maps & provides information on more than 24,000 significant trees in Victoria. I have long enjoyed perusing this app because of the photographs & often detailed information about the trees. You can download this app here – https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/trust-trees/id426819442?mt=8
You can download the National Register of Significant Trees app on & after National Tree Day here – http://trusttrees.org.au