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3 new street trees are up for removal by Marrickville Council, this time in Station Street Petersham.  One tree is a Eucalyptus scoparia (Wallangarra White Gum) outside number 45.  Marrickville Council’s notification says: Tree is dead. It will be replaced with Melaleuca linariifolia (Flaxleaf Paperbark),  a native with perfumed, white flowers in early summer & creamy white papery bark.

A second tree is a Eucalyptus sideroxlon (Ironbark) is outside number 67B Station Street Petersham.  Marrickville Councils notification says: “Tree is in decline with significant amounts of dieback in the canopy.  Exceeded its Safe Useful Life. Council intends to replace it with Gordonia axillaris (Fried Egg Plant).  This tree has dappled, orange/brown bark & large white flowers (10cm or 4″ across) with prominent golden stamens.  It flowers from autumn to spring & has glossy, dark green leaves with red tips in winter.

There are no details for the tree outside number 59 Station Street because of an error with the pdf.  I have notified Council about this.  I will post about this tree once I have the details & post photos of the trees after I have visited them.

The deadline for submissions is 12th April 2010.

Damaged street tree in Station Street Petersham

Last week I saw a street tree in dreadful condition on the corner of Station & Brighton Streets.  I would bet it is one of the above.  It had a large chunk of bark stripped from its trunk & had other deep gashes from repeated hits perhaps from close parking by a truck.

In past weeks I have written about Richard Pennicuik & his tree sit-in to save a street tree outside his home in Thornlie Perth.  Last week he came down after spending 110 days & nights in the street tree.  At 2 am on March 29th 2010 Cameron Johnson & another man climbed the street tree outside Mr Pennicuik’s house vowing to remain & continue the protest to save this street tree.   All 3 men dispute Gosnell Council’s assessment that the tree is dangerous.

Personally, I don’t know understand how City of Gosnells Council can continue to say this tree is dangerous after it managed to remain undamaged & standing after last week’s extraordinarily ‘once in every 50 years’ severe storm, but perhaps it’s a matter of principle in their minds.  The City of Gosnells Council’s insistence that the tree be chopped down says a lot about how much influence they allow the community who disagree with their ideas on how to manage the area.

Surely Gosnells Council has other alternatives than simply chopping the tree down? Why can’t a couple of truly independent Arborists come & assess the tree?  Perhaps they have but I have not seen reported news about this.  At least with people sitting in the tree, it is less likely that someone will vandalize the tree to ensure it needs to be removed.

Richard Pennicuik’s action has attracted a massive amount of threatening, aggressive comments from anonymous public on news web-sites.  I fail to understand why one man’s commitment to a tree results in such hatred & vilification from people who don’t know him, the tree or the history of this tree.  His action was non-violent & this itself is deserves applaud.

It would have been a different story if he had sat in the tree armed with bazookas threatening to kill anyone who came near the tree.  He didn’t.  All he did was sit in the tree for 110 days & nights.  The fact that others who came to visit behaved in a way that distressed the neighbourhood was not Mr Pennicuik’s fault.

I admire the passion & commitment of Richard Pennicuik & the new people who have taken up the fight to save this tree.  I doubt there would be many people who would do this, even if they were totally against the removal of a tree.  Mr Pennicuik says he is seriously thinking of standing for the next council elections.

After 110 days Richard Pennicuik has come down voluntarily from his tree sit-in protest. Amazingly, City of Gosnells Council still intends to chop this tree down despite the tree proving itself to be sturdy by not falling down during last Monday’s severe storm that caused $200 million of damage. Well done!  Whatever you think about the tree, you really must admire the strength & determination of a man who is prepared to suffer for his principles.

Jacaranda tree in flower

Last week the Cumberland Courier reported that a Pymble solicitor who illegally removed a Jacaranda tree from his property was fined a total of $18,075 after being taken to court by Ku-ring-gai Council.  This action by Ku-ring-gai Council shows commitment to taking action to protect trees in an area renown for its significant green canopy & many large, tall trees.

The level of punishment ordered by the court will send a strong signal to those who are prepared to act against the community’s expectations that trees be protected. I expect the people of Ku-ring-gai Council LGA will be extremely reticent to chop down trees without council permission from now on. You can read the article by clicking on the following link –

In the Dorset resort of Poole in the UK a row of mature Monterey pines, Cedars & Oaks protected by Tree Preservation Orders have been killed off by residents using hatchets, handsaws, drain cleaner & rock salt all for the sake of a sea view.  This news has traveled the internet like a virus which has surprised me.  They call it ‘tree-mugging.’  Council intends to deliver hefty fines (20,000 pounds) & possibly gaol time if they catch the perpetrators.  They must not have heard of the councils in Australia who erect large billboards saying “this billboard has been put here because of tree vandalism & will remain until the replacement tree has fully matured.”  I know that I would rather see a view through a leafy canopy than look at a billboard.

Down to the nearest growth point

The Cumberland Courier ran an article about another group of residents who complained about the street tree pruning by Energy Australia in Kens Road, Frenches Forest.  The residents say the energy company has left the street trees ugly & looking like telegraph poles. To read this article, click on the link just above this paragraph.

The council of the city of Milpitas USA took a creative approach to increasing their tree canopy.  Residents came home to find a letter speared into their front lawn with wire informing them that a tree was to be planted by the council in their front garden.  In one street, about 3/4s of the homes were targeted.  If residents didn’t want a tree planted, they were required to send a written appeal within 14 days.

Can you imagine the uproar if our Marrickville Council tried this?  Maybe a modified approach of offering free trees to residents to plant in their gardens would be successful.  It would have to be part of a concentrated campaign to green the LGA because council were offering a free plant from the Addison Road nursery late 09 to anyone who presented a coupon available in the free newspaper Marrickville Matters.  It would be interesting to know how many residents took up this offer.

Peter Spenser of Shannon’s Flat NSW has come down from his tower & stopped his hunger strike after 52 days protesting the State Government’s refusal to allow him to clear his land of trees.  He wants a Royal Commission, compensation & “a Chardonnay.”

Richard Pennicuik who I have posted about on 10th December 09 & 5th January 10 is still sitting in the street tree outside his home in Perth suburb of Thornlie. The City of Gosnell Council must be pulling their hair out by now.  What to do?  Keep the healthy street trees in this street or continue to suffer the now world-wide bad publicity?

Old Palms in Marrickville. Unfortunately 11 palms on the opposite side of the street were chopped down in 2009 because of existing power lines - the residents were very upset & the street doesn't look nearly as good as it did before

Finally, a study in Landscape & Urban Planning by Geoffrey Donavan of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that if a house in East Portland had street trees & tree canopy close by, the house sold for US$8,870 more & it sold faster. He said his research had some public policy implications in that, “Calculating the increased property tax revenue to the city & comparing it to the expense the city bears maintaining street trees, the authors estimate street trees have a benefit to cost ratio of 2 to 1. In Portland, the benefits of street trees significantly outweigh their maintenance costs.”

I did a google search & found a house for sale in East Portland – 3 beds, 1 bath, 475 sq metre with multiple tall trees at US$234,000. Can you believe these prices!

This is part of a current world trend that recognizes that good street trees increase property values.  Interesting if you consider the impact of severe pruning by energy companies.

Large branch sheared off Fig tree

There is a 3 sided block surrounded by large mature Hills Figs in Marrickville South.  One Fig trees is situated on Warren Road, the others along Renwick Street & Carrington Road.  I think there are around 13 Fig trees in total.  These trees would be eligible to be included in a Significant Tree Register, if we had one.  They are a landmark in the area.  Combined with the row of Palms probably planted in the same era (around 80-90 years ago) when the factories along Carrington Road were built, these trees make Carrington Road look far nicer than it would without them.

Two industries used the land for decades, cohabiting comfortably with the trees with large trucks driving in & out.  Unfortunately over the last 15 years the trees have suffered much trauma from severe pruning for the sake of electricity wires. Energy Australia deny pruning these trees & say they were pruned for a loading zone. However, there is a great big long hole through the canopy where the wires travel. (see Energy Australia letters)

Size 9 feet to show dimensions

A DA for the block of land was taken to the Land & Environment Court back in 2008 for a number of reasons, one of which was the proposed removal of 2 of these Fig trees to make way for entrance driveways.  On this issue, Marrickville Council & the community were successful in having the application refused.

Thanks to the Court ruling, these beautiful trees got to live on, with the next threat to their existence being the actual development of the site, which may or may not affect their root system.

This is major damage to this Fig tree

Two months ago, a truck crashed into one of the trees leaving multiple deep gashes in its trunk & causing the loss of one major branch.  A month ago a truck tore off half a tree.  Council had to cut what remained back to the trunk leaving a Fig tree with one branch.  How long before they say this tree is unstable, looks ugly & has to be removed?

Yesterday, I drove by & saw another major branch of one of these trees lying in the gutter.  I can safely assume a truck it ripped off because the area of damage is high off the road.  Council has cut this branch into 3 to make it easier to take away.  I assume they will also have to do work on the tree where the branch was sheared off.

I feel aghast at what is happening to these trees.  There are many trucks that use these streets & their presence is causing a lot of damage. I am sure this is a common story in other areas of Marrickville LGA.

You can see trucks have repeatedly gashed this branch

It is nothing less than vandalism & truck drivers should be required to take more care of street trees & other infrastructure if they are to use these streets.

I blame also the businesses that require the drivers to use extremely large trucks to cut down on the amount of deliveries as a way of increasing profit margin.  While they make money, they are destroying the area.

This was a thriving Fig tree not too long ago. How can this be okay?

If a truck has to drive over a footpath to take a corner, it is too big to be using these narrow streets.  If the driver sees a tree canopy overhead, they can take measures to ensure they do not take branches with them. Council certainly makes sure that the branches of our street trees are high off the ground.  I suspect it wasn’t a passing truck which caused this latest damage.  Many trucks use this area to park overnight.  Seems trying to park a high truck near the kerb brought the vehicle within reach of the canopy and brought the branch down.

It also needs to be said that Carrington Road is a very wide road, certainly big enough for trucks to use & the tree canopy does not restrict passage.

Other news – on 10th December 09 I wrote about a Perth man who was sitting in a street tree to prevent its removal. (see post This is Commitment)  Well, he is still there.

His name is Richard Pennicuik & he lives in the Perth suburb of Thornlie.  He is protesting the proposed removal of 2 mature native street trees outside his property by the City of Gosnell Council.  Apparently, the Council has chopped down 20 other mature street trees in his street & plans to remove the remaining trees. Richard Pennicuik is refusing to come down from the tree until Council reverse their decision to remove these street trees.

Gosnell Council wrote to Mr Pennicuik saying they would not remove the trees for 3 months if he would come down from the tree & discuss the issue with them.  They have also said they will plant native tree species instead of their original intention to plant exotics.  He says this is insufficient & will not be coming down.  He believes the Council will remove the trees if he does.

Imagine spending 4 weeks up a tree & having so much commitment & love for trees to be willing to stay as long as necessary to save these trees.  Many of the comments on the net have been very derogatory towards Mr Pennicuik, but most of these comments have come from people who also chose to write less than positive comments about trees.  I respect Mr Pennicuik & wish him success.  He believes that the earth needs all its mature trees because of global warming & says he is also protesting for his children’s future.



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