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This Port Jackson Fig in Enmore Park is up for removal

An old Port Jackson Fig (ficus rubiginosa) near the rocket play area in Enmore Park Enmore is up for removal. We went to have a look today. The Fig has a cavity in the trunk where it meets the soil.  It would make a perfect home for a small animal in a forest location.

Marrickville Council employed a consulting Arborist, who performed a Resistograph.  This test uses a ‘smart drill’ to record timber density, which can then be graphed onto a scale model showing how much hard wood is left in the

Port Jackson Fig Enmore Park - circled area is where decay is visible

trunk.  Unfortunately 70% of the base of this particular tree has decayed.  The hollow has also travelled 67% up the stem of the tree.  Both factors make it a high risk of falling, particularly if placed under stress like high winds.

The report does say the tree can be pruned to remove weight, but says the tree would have to be topped with the side branches lopped & kept in this condition.  Therefore, it would never regain a full tree shape again.  Erecting a fence around the tree to protect the public was also an option.  Neither of these actually would improve the look of the tree & amenity of the park, so the advice is to remove the tree.

Marrickville Council intends to replace the tree with an advanced Port Jackson Fig at the same location.

I am pleased Marrickville Council made the Tree Report freely available to the public with the Notice of Removal. The Notice of Removal on the tree had clear information about the reasons for removal.  Unfortunately, they nailed the signs to the tree, which is a bugbear of mine.  Council recently started using tape to secure the notices on the trees, but has returned to old habits.

All in all, the information provided to the community is thorough & I thank Council for this.  At the very least, it helps people like myself understand why this tree needs to be removed.  The Tree Report was also written in a way that was easily understandable & was in itself, a great learning resource.

The period for submissions is only 2 weeks & closes Friday 7th May 2010.   SoT will not be putting in a submission.

Top: Morton Bay Fig with Hills Figs in the background. The photo doesn't show, but all these trees are massive in size & height. Bottom: view of the lone Morton Bay Fig from the Salvation Army Depot Tempe

Update – IKEA Fig trees – I have been on the search for information about the Post Jackson Fig & the 2-3 massive Hills Figs on the grounds of the new IKEA development, Princes Highway Tempe.  As this was a DA, Parks & Gardens did not know what has or is intended for these trees.  They gave me the contact details for an officer in Planning who told me that the only tree which was referred to in the DA requirements was the Morton Bay Fig tree.  This tree is to be relocated outside the staff recreation room.  This explains why the tree is sitting perched up on the original soil with the surrounding areas outside the tree line excavated.

As to what happened to the 2 or 3 massive Hill’s Figs, no one knows.  I would presume they fell victim to the chainsaw, which makes me very sad.  Judging by the amount of birds that roost in the 2 Mackey Park Hills Figs, these trees would have also been the homes for thousands of birds.  Now, they are most likely lost to concrete & bricks & mortar.  I guess it depends on one’s priorities, but I don’t think trees feature highly in development.  Trees get in the way.  It’s as simple as that.

I will try to contact Marrickville Council’s heritage expert to see if I can find out more about these trees.  Marrickville Heritage Society is also concerned about the Morton bay Fig, but was unaware of the presence of the Hills Figs.  Most of us were similarly unaware, because they were hidden behind 2 storey buildings for decades.

Update: Bandicoot habitat Lewisham – The trees that were due to be removed as part of renovations at the St Vincent’s de Paul Head Office in West Street Lewisham are still standing.  I did read in the Inner West Courier about 1 month back that they were working with local WIRES to help keep the Bandicoot habitat.  It’s excellent to see an organisation making an effort in response to the community’s concerns with regards to threatened species.

Marrickville Council approved their DA & they could have legally gone ahead with the destruction of this little group of Bandicoots’ habitat.

Top: bank of large mature trees on this property. Bottom: the same trees visible from the adjoining property

We had a look today & saw other church properties that are filled with large trees.  It made me realise just how important these old established grounds are in built-up urban areas.  Over the years, we have lost so many large trees from front & back gardens, from streets, from properties that have been knocked down & rebuilt & from areas that were once vacant space. While suburban environments have changed, places like the grounds of St Vincent’s de Paul still function as a green oasis in what is becoming predominately bitumen, cement, bricks, glass & steel.

Callan Park in Leichhardt LGA is also a prime example as the grounds are still as they were 50 years ago, except the trees have grown to become magnificent.  To lose these green places will be devastating in more ways that one & not just to the urban wildlife.

Last week residents of Wilga Avenue Dulwich Hill were given a grant of $1,000.   See Report from the Gallery – 20th April 2010.  Photo below.

The largest of the current 6 or 7 verge gardens in Wilga Avenue Dulwich Hill with 2 others visible in the background

I received the following e-mail last night:

We have been following your site for a few months.  You are always banging on about birds & Bandicoots.  What about us?  We need trees too!  More trees for Marrickville LGA!

Dogs have needs as well. More trees for Marrickville LGA!

1. Marrickville Councillors will be voting on a DA soon which will see the demolition of 2 houses built in the 1920’s at 34-36 Piggott St Dulwich Hill, the conversion of the original area manor house built in the early 1880’s as well as the loss of 15 mature trees to build a 3 & 4 storeys development overlooking Hoskins Park.  The local community is rallying to prevent this development. They believe the DA has many negative impacts on the community as well as destroying a green corridor & the green outlook of Hoskins Park.  It is DA 201000022 & can be accessed via Council’s web-site.

2. The Manly Daily reported last week that Warringah Council removed a much-loved palm tree planted on the verge in Forestville without consulting the community. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/loved-palm-tree-gets-the-chop/ Interestingly, a cross was spray-painted on the tree’s trunk a few days before it

What is the purpose of these symbols?

was chopped down.  I note similar strange rune-like markings sprayed on a couple of the Hills Figs in Carrington Road Marrickville South.  Were these put there by Council?  Are Marrickville Council intending to remove these trees?  I seem to remember 1 Fig tree was agreed to be removed for the new development which has recently commenced.

3. I wrote in the post Tempe Wetlands protest & trees at risk in Tempe that I would try to get further information about the mature trees at risk at the State Rail land in Edgar Street Tempe.  Kerry, a local resident kindly left a comment (see comment roll) saying “I believe they (the trees) are under threat by the 27 townhouse development going in on the land next to the railway line.  An underground car park & water tank retention system is to be built along the boundary line with the railway.  At no stage have these trees been mentioned by the DA or State Rail or Marrickville Council’s tree officer.”

4. Sydney is getting it’s own 5.8 hectare Central Park at the old Carlton & United Brewery site at Broadway. This is a huge boon for the community on may levels & for Sydney’s urban wildlife.    http://www.smh.com.au/national/central-park-off-broadway–thats-sydney-not-manhattan-20100209-notw.html

5. A little old as it was published last November.  Hornsby Council intends to plant tree-lined boulevards with a councilor suggesting council create ‘immediate’ boulevards by planting trees which are already 4-5 metres tall.  Wonderful if it happens & maybe cost effective considering the high loss of saplings Hornsby Council also experience. http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-boulevardes-plan-for-hornsby/

new street trees - hanging baskets & planter box

6.  City of Sydney Council recently planted numerous young trees along Glebe Point Road & some side streets.  They used a porous hard substance to cover larger than average planting holes.  The new street tree planting resulted in instant & significant greening of this already green street.  Because of their size, I doubt they will be vandalized.  It looks terrific.

7. The Star Tribune reported that a woman in Eden Prairie USA took to a tree service worker with a shot-gun to stop him chopping down a tree.  We should never have this kind of action here. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/83607162.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

8. The Home Owners Association in San Diego California will chop down in excess of 200 mature Eucalypts because 1 fell on a house recently. The residents are campaigning to prevent the removal of the trees saying they are prepared to live with the risk.  You can read the story & watch a video which is an interesting look at their urban environment. http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11985277

9. World Forestry day is coming up on 21 March 2010.   Many countries plant thousands of trees on this day.  I don’t know as yet whether our Council is participating. The NSW Department of Industry & Investment has a range of activities planned – http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/info/escape

10. Lastly, the NSW Department of Climate Change & Water has a great resource about threatened species which may be of interest to those of you are concerned about the Bandicoots at Lewisham. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/index.htm & http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Search/QuickSearch.aspx

SoT concentrates on trying to save, preserve & protect healthy trees in public spaces, yet sometimes the loss of trees on private property deserves mention. Generally most residents of Marrickville LGA are unaware of the loss of the older, perhaps historic trees unless they are directly affected or when they recognise that ‘something’ in a particular area has changed.  The presence of trees is something we take for granted & it is often only if they all go & the landscape is radically changed that we recognise their loss.

I have decided to document the loss of our big older trees or when a mass of trees are removed regardless of whether they were situated on private property or not.  This post informs of a recent loss & one that is about to occur.

In September 09, 2 heritage listed 77 year old Fig trees, 1 other Fig tree, which were alive & growing in 1943, 1 mature Plane tree & 2 mature Eucalypts were chopped down in Ferncourt Primary School Marrickville South to make way for the building of a school hall as part of the Federal Government’s stimulus program.  The loss of these trees caused much grief to those in the community who know about it.  The community tried to find solutions that would enable all the trees to be retained, but their efforts were unsuccessful.  You can read about these trees & see photos at the following –http://ecopond.blogspot.com/2009/09/trees.html Thanks to Voren a local resident who sent me the link to her blog.

I understand all the trees visible in this photograph are to be removed - still more trees are out of shot

Last Tuesday 2nd February 2010 the Labor & Independent councillors voted to approve a DA for the St Vincent’s de Paul State Office 2C West Street Lewisham.  Many of you will know it as the old Lewisham Hospital site.  It is situated across the road from Petersham Park with its lovely oval, numerous old, very special trees & the Fanny Durak Pool. The DA was seeking to demolish an existing brick & stone fence, remove 32 31 mature trees & construct a new fence, driveway & landscaping.  The trees that are to be removed give the feeling of a tree-lined avenue as they match those on the opposite side of the road in size & were probably planted at around the same time so their loss is going to have major visual impact. 3 Palms will be relocated.

The whole St Vincent’s de Paul site is heritage listed, including the fence.  The DA said:

  • the existing fence does not provide sufficient security for residents of an aged-care facility & a woman’s refuge on site.
  • the fence is also suffering structural problems due to the height of the soil inside the property & the presence of mature trees, both of which have caused the brickwork to move & lean outward in some parts.

row of trees which will be chopped down - I have been told Bandicoots live here

While I agree with both points, after going to the site & having a look, I believe that the removal of the trees is unnecessary unless the aim is to get a more modern, streamlined effect to match the new shiny glass black building.

The fence is bowing outwards.  The ground is built up on the inside of the fence.  This looks to be deliberate & would have been in place for many decades. I wonder why they just cannot remove the old brick fence, built a new, higher one to improve the security & replace any soil dislodged during construction of the new fence.  If they do this, they will be able to retain most if not all of the trees.

This tree will be chopped down - it has a massive trunk

St Vincent’s de Paul intends to replace the 32 trees with a mix of lawn, low scale planting, screen planting & Crepe Myrtle, Tuckeroo & Summer Red Gums. I think they want to do this to modernise the place & perhaps allow more onsite parking.

The trees to be removed are decades old.  I would guess around 80 years.  Most have massive trunks (2-3 metres) & as such are significant sequesters of CO2.

The front of the Lewisham complex looks a mess at the moment because there is building work happening & the front & side of the property has a cement barrier erected to prevent pedestrians being flattened by any part of the fence if it decides to collapse.  However, when you enter the property, the noise immediately abates because the trees block a lot of the traffic noise.  It is cool, visually pretty & smells nice.  It is a relaxing place despite the construction work.

another very large tree due to be chopped down

Enter past the front buildings & further into the property & you come across one of Sydney’s hidden gems.  There is a contemplation garden complete with life-size religious statues, a small cemetery, old hand-made stone seats tucked into raised garden beds, a variety of mature trees & an old fashioned & very beautiful garden.  Birds, insects & lizards are everywhere.  Further in there is a school with 3 massive trees with huge natural canopies that shade the playground.  There are also many heritage buildings with curved silo-like attachments, a gigantic copper dome & an enormous & exquisitely beautiful sandstone church. The

this beautiful tree is to go as well

complex is dotted with enormous Eucalypts & other trees, all of them mature.

Two families of Bandicoots live on the property.  I was told the Bandicoots live “out front & in the trees along Thomas Street.” Where will these animals go when their homes are removed? The animals can’t just cross the road & take up

3 Kookaburras live in the trees which are to be chopped down.

residence in Petersham Park because animals are territorial & other animals probably won’t allow them to move in even if the conditions are right.

The St Vincent’s de Paul complex is a green oasis that provides significant habitat for wildlife one block from the heavily trafficked Parramatta Road & about 6 kms from Sydney CBD.  It’s not that I think everything should stay the same & there should be no progress, but sometimes progress can ruin something very special.

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