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Bamboo to create a green wall.

Bamboo to create a green wall.

Last February 2014 some of the residents of Central Avenue Marrickville came together & planted an unusual & very effective verge garden as part of Marrickville Council’s Sustainable Streets program.

Non-invasive, clumping bamboo was planted along a fence line that is visible at the end of the street before it turns the corner. Instead of looking at wooden fences at the rear of three properties, residents now have a vibrant living green wall.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, so this space should be looking even better in a few months.  Bamboo has serious benefits in that it is great at stopping soil erosion & also sequestering carbon, which it locks up in the fibre of the bamboo as well as in the soil.

Planting bamboo was a brilliant idea for this small space. I hope this idea is copied everywhere it can be.

Already looking good.  It will also block off some of the view of the highrise development at the old Marrickville RSL Club.

Already looking good. It will also block off some of the view of the highrise development at the old Marrickville RSL Club, which is the building in blue.

Barcelona in Spain has delivered an amazing 8-storey green wall outside an already standing building, proving that green walls do not need to be the domain of new developments.

As the world heats up, this kind of initiative will need to become more commonplace. We cannot continue to create urban environments that are essentially a mix of hard surfaces on different levels – from streets to walls & roofs on high-rise buildings.  We will bake unless we make changes to the way we build.

A green wall is not only a living entity; it is also a working entity cleaning up air pollution.  Green walls have many benefits.  They cool down the building & the local area. They add beauty to the streetscape & have a positive impact on the health & happiness of people who live or work in the building & also those who pass by.  They also add to biodiversity. Green walls make sense, especially as the population increases & land becomes scarcer.

What is terrific about this particular green wall in Barcelona is that what was once a large 8-storey blank wall has now been transformed into a living green wall.  A scaffold-like structure was built in the air space outside the building. Therefore the plants & the water that is used to keep the plants alive will not impact on the structure of the building, something that concerns many.  A staircase & floors have been created between the wall & the building to allow maintenance.  The planted boxes are modular & can be removed & replaced.  So can plants, making it easy to remove any that may have died.

The designing Architect Juli Capella says they have identified seven species of birds that use this particular green wall as well as flying foxes & geckos.  These are shown as an interpretive sign near the green wall to educate the public.  The green wall has turned into an attraction with a monocular installed so people can zoom in to have a close look at the plants.  Initially the locals were worried about the birds & insects & the ‘evils of nature,’ but now are happy with the wall.

This could be done here in Marrickville municipality if the owners of buildings were willing & if Marrickville Council encouraged it.  Green walls like this one would certainly significantly add to the value of their properties as well as provide the community major inspirational beauty to the streetscape & make it a healthier place to live.

If I had my way, all new developments would include green walls in some way because they are so beneficial.  In time it will happen, as I believe Architects will not want to be viewed as out of date & out of touch with the community’s desires when other Architects design more people & environmentally friendly office & residential buildings.  Until then we can look at what is happening overseas as well as in the City of Sydney Council area, as they are embracing green walls with a passion to make Sydney a very livable city.

You can watch a short video of the green wall in Barcelona here –

A small section of the glorious living green wall outside the new Cbus tower in Sydney CBD when it was very new. This green wall is a vastly different design & structure than the one in Barcelona.

I came across something rather wonderful today called Tree Tape invented by Thai designer Nitipak Samsen.

Tree Tape is a downloadable tape measure that you print, cut out & stick together so that it becomes a tape measure.  With this tape measure you measure the girth of the tree in question & it will tell you how much CO2 this tree sequesters in comparison with air travel, pints of lager, cheese burgers & oxygen production.

Tree Tape is an excellent resource for teachers.  Apart from being free! it also allows the kids to actively learn by getting outside & measuring the trees themselves.  Instead of measuring a number denoting the CO2 sequestered, it measures the CO2 in terms of activities.  How many cheese burgers have to be cooked, how many pints of lager poured, how much breathing is returned to a person.  Tree Tape will make the impact of CO2 sequestration far more understandable.  You can download Tree Tape here –

Nitipak Samsen’s website is an interesting place showcasing a few of his projects. One I particularly like is Natural Fuse. It’s a system of plants that sequester CO2 for an area. Those that live in the designated area can only use power to the amount of the CO2 sequestered by their plants.  Reach the limit & all power cuts off until the plants have sequestered more CO2.  Brilliant! His website explains the concept better than I do.

Tree Tape download for measuring air travel for 4 different kinds of trees

Street trees have always posed a problem for Councils because they usually have poor growing conditions; wall-to-kerb concrete, very little area for rainwater collection, compaction due to heavy foot traffic or from vehicles, overhead power lines,

Unfortunately this is a common sight across Marrickville LGA.

renegade roots, threats to sue for cracking to walls & fences, wobbly footpaths, falling leaves, complaints about falling leaves, side branches, dropping branches, threats to sue because of dropping branches, falling flower petals, slippery footpaths from fallen fruit, leaves or petals, labour & costs for cleaning the trees of fallen tree litter, noisy birds & feeding flying-foxes & other animals, cultural dislike of non-fruit trees, illegal tree removal & vandalism …. have I covered everything?

Suffice to say that trees often divide the community & cause problems for Councils.  With the climate getting hotter it’s getting much harder to grow street & park trees.  They require regular & deep water every couple of days while they are young & need watering for 1-2 years until they are established.  Marrickville Council doesn’t do this. They water weekly for 12 weeks, then the tree has to survive on its own. Their own report said there has been a very high loss of new tree plantings due to death usually caused by lack of water & sometimes vandalism.

How this street tree in Marrickville has managed to survive for 80 years or more in these conditions is a miracle

Trees also take many years to grow depending on the species.  I’ve been meaning to document the growth of a newly planted street tree to demonstrate this.  A whole street of mature Melaleucas was removed in my area around 7 years ago.  Council did plant replacement trees & those trees still look like sticks. They provide little greenery, no canopy & no shade.  In winter they completely lose their leaves looking more like sticks.  This isn’t Council’s fault.  They cannot make a canopy replace itself in a short time.

Council staff once told me that street trees are only expected to live between 7-15 years because of the poor growing conditions & because of pruning required for overhead cables.  If you think about it, it would be almost impossible to get a canopy & trees on the skyline if this was adhered to. That street trees live longer is a miracle in many cases.

The streetscape outside St Vincent's Hospital is an example of how the beauty of trees will never be replicated by something man-made

Now to get to the meat of this post…. The City of Boston asked for designs for a synthetic tree as part of their SHIFTboston Urban Intervention contest.  This tree needed to provide the benefits of a real tree of carbon sequestration & oxygen production, but must not require soil or need watering to function. (Solves many of the tree problems Councils currently face). Paris designers Mario Caceres & Cristian Canonico of Influx Studio came up with Treepods. They look similar to the Dragon Blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari) & fulfill the specifications of removing CO2 from the air & releasing oxygen. Treepods sit on top of the ground so there is no problem with underground installation & certainly no problems with tree roots.  Treepods are constructed from recycled plastic drinking bottles & run on solar power & kinetic energy. They also light up at night adding an extra dimension by creating safely lit areas.

I am of two minds about Treepods. I love the sheer creativity of the design  & that they could be employed if the climate changes so much that it becomes difficult to grow trees.  Treepods fit the design criteria for SHIFTboston perfectly.  However, I imagine that this technology could well be used on building walls & roofs without having to be in the form of a tree.  I also think Treepods would do well as art in public spaces right now purely for art’s sake & for the added benefit of community education as the kinetic part of its function requires interaction with people. But to replace street or park trees with Treepods, well, I’d rather not. Just imagine the impact on birds, insects, other urban wildlife as well as human health & wellbeing.

More information & 14 photos containing design specs of Treepods can be found here.  Photo 9 shows Treepods used extensively as street & park trees.  Is this the future? –

How hard is it for a street tree to grow in these conditions? Too much of Marrickville LGA looks like this. It's a harsh, ugly landscape in my opinion..

4 of the 7 large trees photographed here are recommended for removal & will not be replaced. Crepe myrtle trees will be planted in the grassed area. The Crepe myrtle here is indicated by the red dot at the base of its trunk.

Marrickville Council is planning an overhaul of historic Petersham Park in Petersham.  I’ve done my best to translate the plans. There is a Legend on the side of the plans offering a range of symbols in various shades of green & one has to scroll around the map trying to find the symbols.  It would be so much easier if there was list of what will be removed, replaced etc & any trees to be removed coloured red.  Perhaps that would look too imposing, especially on this map.  I apologize in advance if I have made a mistake translating the plans.

The Petersham Park Masterplan recommends –

  • removing 8 of the 26 large Camphor laurel trees from the magnificent memorial avenue of trees that make the Brighton Street entrance.
  • removing 4 of the 10 large Camphor laurels along Wentworth Street.
  • removing 5 of the 7 large trees near the entry to the Fanny Durak Pool & the playground.  That will mean another shadecloth structure. Council are removing these trees because the soil is compacted. Soil compaction can be treated without removing trees. Axing these trees is simply the most expedient option.
  • removing 4 of the 12 large trees along Station Street.
  • removing  2 other large trees inside the park.
  • removing  7 of the 14 large trees from the boundary of West Street.  Apart from

    In January 2011 the last of 31 trees were removed from the St Vincent de Paul Society complex. For many decades these trees matched the trees across the road at Petersham Park on the right of this photo. Now Council wants to remove 7 of the 14 trees along here

    1 tree with significant dieback, I cannot see why these trees need to be removed.  They have been badly pruned, but so have the majority of the trees in the park.  Most look like champagne glasses because of Council’s long-standing policy of pruning all side branches.  The plans recommend not replacing trees along West Street to offer unrestricted visual access into the park. Unrestricted for who? The third storey across the road?  Whether on foot or in a car you can easily see into Petersham Park.  No substantial trees will also ensure that the traffic noise from ultra-busy West Street would fully infiltrate the park.

  • If I understand the Legend correctly, the ultimate recommendation is to remove all the trees along West Street. If that is correct, the remaining side of the once glorious avenue of trees will be lost.  (Last January 2011 St Vincent de Paul Society completed the removal of 31 trees that formed the other side of the avenue of trees. See – )
  • All up 30 very large trees are to be removed.
  • 38 new trees are to be planted. Sounds great, except they will be small stature ornamental Crepe myrtle & Cape Chestnut trees.  Many new tree plantings fail so even whether these 38 trees survive remains to be seen.  Figs & large Eucalypts have been suggested for the Brighton & Wentworth Street as replacement for the trees removed in these sections.
  • Cape Chestnuts & Crepe Myrtles are to be planted in the space between West Street & the oval to offer colour.  I am rather horrified that Crepe myrtle trees are popping up across Marrickville LGA when there are many better choices of small native trees that offer colour as well as food for wildlife.
  • Very small spaces will be planted with groundcover for Bandicoot habitat where trees have been removed on West Street. Although habitat for the critically endangered Long-nosed Bandicoot is of paramount importance, especially now that their habitat across the road at St Vincent de Paul Society has been destroyed, the size of the proposed habitat is tokenistic at best & keeps the Bandicoots near the very busy road.
  • Council also plans to upgrade the playground, repair the stonework, repair the paths, add some lighting, add some garden beds, replant the existing garden beds & add a decorative picket fence to part of the Brighton Street entry – all good.

Magnificent trees are recommended for removal, yet this & others like it will stay

There are many wonderful things about Petersham Park.  It is remarkably different from most parks in Marrickville LGA in that it has many very large trees as well as large shade-producing trees throughout the park itself, not just around the perimeter.  Removing so many large trees at one time would be devastating. To remove half of the trees on West Street only to replace with groundcover & add some Crepe myrtles further in would to my mind, reduce this side of the park to ‘ordinary.’

I know parks have to be maintained & Petersham Park, even for its beauty is showing signs of neglect, but in my opinion, the bulk of the large mature trees are doing well.  The paths, the playground & the garden beds are what needs work & yes, some trees need to be removed, but I wonder about the choices of trees.  The Prunus looks scraggly & a couple of Fig trees look quite weird & unhealthy.  I could have removed 20 trees, however, only 1 of those trees matched the trees Council is recommending for removal.

4 out of 10 trees here are recommended for removal

It’s obvious that some trees are to be removed simply because they are mature or that removing the trees will allow for the new fashion of having clear unobstructed views deep into parks.  To me, that’s not a good enough reason to remove healthy mature trees which are doing great work in sequestering large amounts of CO2, removing particulate matter, improving air quality as well as providing shade & beauty to the area.  Mature doesn’t mean dying.

There are dead street trees all over Marrickville LGA, some that have been sitting there for 18 months or more.  Then there is the borer infestation of Mahoney Reserve & the 6 dead

8 out of the 26 trees along the avenue are recommended for removal

Poplar trees that are still standing.  These things make me wonder why so much money will be spent removing so many trees in Petersham Park when very few of them are showing obvious signs of deterioration.  They are mature trees & for that very reason, quite spectacular.  I’d rather the dead & dying trees elsewhere be removed than 30 mature beautiful trees from the one park. Council needs to start to grow replacement trees (further in the park if they are to be Fig trees to allow for the canopy) & when they have grown to a decent size, only then do a graduated removal of the other trees.

I recognize that Marrickville Council wants to do the best thing for the park & it is good that community consultation was offered. However, the plans for Petersham Park remind me of the intention in the draft tree strategy policy that was so poorly received by Councillors in early 2010 & which has been redrafted. That report spoke negatively about mature trees & proposed cutting down 1,000 trees per year for 5 years. Is Council still pursuing this kind of goal?

Any written feedback to Marrickville Council from the community is due by 28th February 2011.  The plan can be downloaded here (5MB) –

I made a video of Petersham Park here –

The red dots indicate several Prunus & 1 Fig that looks sick. These insubstantial, scraggly 'trees' are to remain while 30 large mature trees are to be removed.


Quite an impact

I had been hearing reports that devastation had happened in front of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Lewisham so we went to have a look for ourselves.  The visual impact to the area is phenomenal. What once was a beautiful stretch of trees along both sides of busy West Street is now a wide gaping hole that looks like a scar.

The lovely historical buildings of St Vincent de Paul Society that front West Street are for the most part brick & sandstone.  In recent years, St Vincent de Paul Society erected a grey glass & steel edifice that is not sympathetic to the surrounding buildings. Things like this are personal taste & I am sure they are happy with the result.  The 31 trees that once fronted this site softened this new building & matched the older buildings.  Together with the trees on the periphery of Petersham Park they created a green corridor along West Street as you came off Parramatta Road.

It is not just the local people who treasure the St Vincent de Paul Society site. I remember when I first saw it in the early 80s when it was still Lewisham Hospital. My reaction was one of stunned, “Wow! This place is gorgeous!”  The many magnificent trees that made up front garden combined with the obviously historical buildings made a strong impression on me.

This gorgeous tree dwarfing the stone arch once provided a grand entrance to the St Vincent de Paul Society complex

Buildings can be beautiful on their own, but most of the time it is the trees that create an atmosphere of wellbeing.  As an example I give the ‘Prayer Garden’ within the St Vincent de Paul Society grounds. I don’t know what this area is called, but it is certainly meant for prayer & contemplation because of the life-size-statue of Jesus, the trees, the landscaping & even the graves tucked into a corner.  If you removed all the trees from this area, it would no longer be a place of contemplation & peace. It would simply be open space between buildings.  This is precisely what has happened at the front of the St Vincent de Paul Society site on West Street.

31 large & mature trees, many with massive trunks, have been removed.  This has exposed the buildings, which now look slightly foreboding, especially the newest grey/glass building.  I acknowledge that this is a matter of personal perception & this is mine.

In place of the trees is a black bitumen driveway & parking spaces. This choice of surface will increase the heat island effect making the area & the buildings hotter in summer.  At the far right there were a grove of Melaleucas & some very big & beautiful Eucalypts that framed the stone arch entrance. They too have gone.  The car park does not come to this area so removing these trees appears to have been done simply to facilitate the rebuilding of the fence.  If St Vincent de Paul Society had wanted to, engineers could have easily replaced the fence & kept the trees.

Instead, the place has been cleared.  Nice little Banksias & Crepe Myrtles have now been planted at wide intervals with other low landscaping plants in a garden bed along the completed section of the new fence.

In my opinion, Marrickville Council let the community down when they passed this DA.  Even though the trees were on private property, the type of property it is means that it has had a long & active history with the community.  The trees were part of the fabric of this Lewisham street & were part of what made Lewisham special.  Most people know of this complex, even if they do not know of its new name & purpose.  What they remember is the beautiful old buildings & the trees.  Question is, are trees valuable enough to be classified part of a community’s history?  I think so, but I am not so naïve to not think that others would disagree with me.

The St Vincent de Paul Society complex is on a main thoroughfare, one block from Parramatta Road. The tall trees with their wide trunks & significant canopy captured & stored much CO2 & particulate matter from passing traffic, preventing this from going into the complex itself, but also further afield into the local community.

The before shot shows the Bandicoot habitat

Then there are the Long-nosed Bandicoots, those small little animals that are classified as ‘endangered species’ & that call this particular patch home.  The presence of Bandicoots is another reason why Marrickville Council should not have passed this DA.   Endangered Species rely on our Councils to preserve & manage their habitat.

The Department of Climate Change, Environment & Water were aghast when I spoke to them last year about the removal of the Long-nosed Bandicoots’ habitat.  I last heard that WIRES was negotiating with St Vincent de Paul Society to retain some habitat so the Bandicoots could continue to survive.  I will contact WIRES to ask what happened.

Marrickville Council now needs to plant street trees on the footpath outside the St Vincent de Paul Society complex.  What is left is a 100 metre long desolate space that is hot, very

A family of Kookaburras lives on the site

windy & not good to look at. It is also noisy as the traffic sounds now bounce back from the buildings. whereas before it was much quieter because the trees muffled the traffic noise.  There are no overhead cables & the footpath is 3 metres wide so tall-growing large canopy trees can be planted.  It would be good if sections of cement could be removed to make long patches of garden greenspace.

It’s difficult to comment about tree removal on private property, though in this case the trees were an integral part of the streetscape & provided habitat for an Australian native animal that has been classified as an endangered species.

There were many in the community who sincerely thought that St Vincent de Paul Society would keep the trees on the far right of the front of the complex for the Bandicoots, especially as they knew the community were very concerned about the loss of their habitat.

I know of a few people who are devastated by the loss of these trees & by how desolate the streetscape of their neighbourhood now looks.  A great chunk of our urban forest has gone & there may be more as I understand St Vincent de Paul Society intend to remove other large Eucalypts throughout the complex.

I have put up a 1.27-minute YouTube of the front of the St Vincent de Paul Society & the streetscape here if you are interested –

I last wrote about this DA here –

On 25 January 2010 Marrickville Council put up a Notification of Removal on their website saying they will be removing a Camphor Laurel (Cinnamonum camphora) street tree outside 2-12 Metropolitan Road Enmore.

On 26 January 2010 I went to have a look at this tree & after a search, found the stump in-between 2-parked cars.

Some residents said the tree had been chopped down a few days ago.  This is one more instance of Council’s inconsistent tree removal processes.  I have written about this issue before. This is a pointless notification when the tree was already gone for a few days.  This process engenders distrust because it is only a pretend attempt to engage the community.

The reason Marrickville Council gave for the tree’s removal was “Conditioned for removal as part of an approved Development Application DA200900354.01.”

This is cryptic language that doesn’t inform of the real reason for the tree’s removal & makes it impossible for the community to make an assessment whether the removal is reasonable.  As I understand it, the Notification of Removal notices are posted principally for the benefit of the community.  If this is the case, I can see no reason why they shouldn’t be written in plain language.  Jargon excludes people.

By inspecting the site (which is the old school being revamped), I can only suppose that the tree was removed to allow driveway access at the front of the property.  If this is correct, it is such a shame to lose a tree described by local residents as “gorgeous,” when there is access of equal width & equal utility at the rear of the property. All the properties in the neighbourhood have rear access only.

I could not find the reason for the tree’s removal because the DA cannot be found on Council’s website nor elsewhere on the net.

Council says the tree will be replaced with “4 x Super advanced amenity tree specimens.” They do not indicate which species of tree or say when they will be planted. Dr Kim D. Coder, Professor of Community Forestry & Arboriculture at Warnell School of Forest Resources said amenity trees can be summarized as having 3 qualities; “charming, satisfaction & utility.” I would say that the Camphor laurel also had these qualities.

The Camphor laurel had a girth of 2.5 metres & therefore would have sequestrated a significant amount of Co2 annually.  I hope that the “4 x Super advanced amenity tree specimens” are of the kind that also grow large trunks.

Not only do I wish Marrickville Council had a standardized process regarding tree removal & honoured it, but I wish that they would also fight to protect & keep our street trees when there is a DA, especially when there are alternatives available.  This tree was a huge loss to the community.

Stump of the Camphor laurel chopped down outside 2-12 Metropolitan Road Enmore

“Deforestation releases more Co2 than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships & planes combined. The destruction of the forests in Australia have led to the worst droughts in Australia in the last 10,000 years.”

This 5-minute video explains the relationship between climate change & deforestation.  Standing forests were not included in Kyoto Protocol.


In news just in, the Victorian Labor state government has ‘refined’ rules regarding street trees & power cables.  The new law, “set minimum clearance space” around cables. It ranges from 30cm to 3.5m, depending on the type of powerline.” The energy companies must be planning a big celebration party.

“Banyule Council deputy mayor Jenny Mulholland, whose municipality includes Ivanhoe & Eaglemont, said many of Melbourne’s leafy streetscapes would be reduced to rows of tree stumps. She said 75,000 trees would be affected, costing the council $3 million, or the equivalent of a 6% rate rise.”

Street trees in Darlinghurst

Quite understandably, many of Victoria’s local Councils are very unhappy about the new rules, as the fine is $30,000, which I presume will be for each tree that breaches the clearance space.  Councils will need to spend millions of dollars pruning & removing larger trees just to comply with the initial stages. Then there will be ongoing costs. This is death to most local government budgets.

Here is where it gets really interesting.  Melbourne is famous for its street & park trees.  Having lived there I can attest that is it is a lovely green city with large street trees everywhere.  Most ordinary streets in Melbourne are what we in Sydney would call ‘an avenue of trees’ & regard as special streets.  The city prides itself on its street trees & it has lots of urban wildlife.  People & businesses take care of the street trees.

We visited Melbourne recently & it seemed that there were more trees than when I lived there.  There was no rubbish around trees in the areas we visited, trees were not in cages, branches were not snapped off & main shopping strips were full of large leafy trees.  Large street trees in the middle of the road is the norm.  The general height of street trees in Melbourne is much higher than in Marrickville LGA.   Most street trees reach well above the gutters of buildings & many are higher than the buildings themselves.

Quite simply, the city & surrounding suburbs looked glorious. Speak to any Melbourne person about the street trees & watch their face light up. They love them.

It makes a big difference to how a city & its suburbs work when there are a lot of street trees. People are drawn to eat outside. Melbourne is a coffee-drinking culture.  There are hundreds of cafes with people sitting at tables eating & drinking under street trees.  They were doing this as a norm 30 years ago, while here in Sydney it is a relatively new thing.

Street trees in Liverpool Street Sydney

Many of the street trees of Melbourne are deciduous so, like Canberra, they have visible seasons with autumn colours, bare trees in winter & spring growth. Because much of Melbourne is flat terrain, trees are visible in the distance. They also bring much beauty to industrial areas or areas where the quality of the buildings is not so attractive.

Take the trees away & you have removed much of what makes Melbourne special. The city won’t recover & the loss of street trees will affect tourism in a major way.

Add the fact that Melbourne is very hot in summer. Most years they have a few days of constant heat-wave conditions.  Take the street trees away & the heat island effect is going to be horrendous. Then there is winter where the winds come straight from Antarctica & are bone-crunching freezing. With fewer street trees, the wind won’t be diffused & will roar around the streets. The heat will be hotter & the cold colder.

To me the Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor has made a really strange decision. In one foul swoop he will seriously affect tourism for the city, he will ensure rates rise dramatically, he will anger the Councils & seriously anger the people. How will they accept that their beautiful streets are going to be denuded & made ugly? The process may start, but I doubt it will last long once people & industries start noticing the impact & the loss of quality of life.

Has the Minister not heard of global warming or climate change? Just how hot does he want the city of Melbourne & its suburbs to become?  Imagine the follow through as more people go to hospital with heat, respiratory & cardiac related illnesses.

Hills Figs in Jersey Street Marrickville

The real winners of this decision are the power companies & the retailers of air-conditioning units.  Every residence will need at least 1 air-conditioning unit & sales will go through the roof. More electricity will be used & power costs will increase dramatically. The city will pump out CO2 making us proud polluters in the world stage.  Urban wildlife will die. The city will be dirtier from particulate matter & dust that usually gets picked up by the trees.  People will be angrier. Graffiti will get worse as it is known to be high in areas that have few street trees. Rates will rise again just to pay for graffiti removal & state taxes will rise due to the increased pressure on the health system.

It’s astounding that this ‘rule’ comes out of the mouth of a representative of the people who is supposed to be doing things for the people & for the benefit of the people.  While the rest of the country & the world gets its act together about trees in urban areas & greens their cities, Melbourne will be doing the opposite.  Right now Melbourne is a role model of what a green city looks like.

Street trees in Salisbury Road Stanmore

Then the National Broadband Network will roll out.  If they don’t put the cables underground, they will put them on the power-poles just like Optus did.  They will probably want their broadband cable positioned another metre below the Optus cable & then all the street trees will have to be removed.  Great move.

In a senate debate, “To bury or not to bury,” the following was written – “To provide optical fibre cables aerially, the NBN Co will need to either use existing electricity utility infrastructure, or to build their own poles where there are none in existence. Aerial cabling is most likely to be used in existing, or ‘brownfield’ areas, where telecommunications & other infrastructure already exists. Extrapolating from that assumption & taking guidance from the Tasmanian roll-out, the committee believes that aerial cabling may be deployed over the vast majority of the 90 per cent FTTP footprint.”

I can’t imagine the people of Melbourne will just sit back & allow their suburbs be made into wastelands. I will watch how this pans out & report back on the most interesting bits.  Good luck Melbourne.

Gloriously beautiful trees which are a huge asset to Newcastle

On Tuesday 17th August 2010 7 out of 12 Newcastle City Councillors went down in history as being the crew who voted to remove the 14 iconic, beautiful & very healthy Hills Figs outside the Newcastle Art Gallery along Laman Street Newcastle.

Why, because Newcastle Council says they are dangerous & are likely to fall. Except around 6 weeks ago, they had the NSW Governor Marie Bashir chauffeur-driven to the door of the Art Gallery & the official car remained parked under the killer trees for the evening.

Of course nothing happened. Nor did anything happen with the Pashar Bulka storm that produced incredibly high winds & caused much destruction throughout Newcastle. Nor did anything happen with the 2 recent bad storms & high winds that hit Newcastle.

If you want to read a story of intrigue, lack of transparency, weird ideas, healthy trees with no roots, a community being run rings around, I’d recommend spending the evening reading Save Our Figs & Other Trees of Newcastle – & the post written on the night of Newcastle Council’s decision –

The very last option Newcastle Council gave the community was a single row of Liquid ambers. Really? A tree known to have large invasive roots that also grow near the surface. They are very large deciduous trees that not only drop a very large amount of leaves in Autumn, they also drop a large amount of round spiked seeds that do not decay well leaving ‘lumps’ under lawns. Liquid ambers are also known to drop branches easily in storms.

These trees will not provide food for the numerous flying-foxes & birds that used the Laman Street Figs as a home & source of food for many decades.

How will replacing the 14 Hills Figs with very large trees known to have large & invasive roots improve the situation? How would tons of leaves dropping outside the Art Gallery in Autumn improve the situation?  Wouldn’t the leaves & ball-like seeds create a public injury risk? Wouldn’t a tree known to drop branches during storms create a public injury risk?  This idea was a good as grinding the trees into stumps & carving them into famous Newcastle citizens. See –

Now they say they will replace the current Hills Figs with a single row of Hills Figs down the centre of the road, but don’t say when this will happen.

Newcastle City Council received 400 submissions about this Laman Street Figs from the community. 96% of those people said, “Keep the Figs.” They were ignored.  I predict the community is going to go ape about this & Newcastle City Council will get the lumber jacks in as fast as possible to end the matter for good, except people have long memories.

My original post about the Laman Street  Figs can be found here –

You can read the follow-up post  written on 1st September 2010 about the Independent Arborist Report by clicking here –



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