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I love this oak tree that lives in a Marrickville back garden. The owner planted it 80 plus years ago and the whole family loves it.   It is bare for winter, but come spring, the wonderful vibrant green eaves transform this tree and the surrounding neighbourhood.

I am back.  I disappeared for a while.  My husband was in hospital twice & it has been a hectic time.   Lots has happened locally, but I did not have the time to focus.  He is home now, so now I can concentrate on trees & the local environment again.   Thanks to all who continued to come to see if I had written anything.

A resident sent me a Facebook post from Mayor Darcy Byrne who wants to make it easier for private trees to be removed if the resident feels it is posing a risk to safety or damaging their property.   See – https://www.facebook.com/byrne.darcy/videos/1797985483610673/

The Mayor says that the state government has changed the law to prevent Councillors from voting on tree applications “so officers who make the decisions have a lot of power.”  I presume this refers to Council Officers.  I always thought the Councillors had a lot of power to decide the fate of trees in the municipality.  I saw that if they were not tree-people, there was very little chance of them voting to retain a tree that was on the agenda of council meetings.

In this Facebook post Mayor Byrne repeatedly refers to replacing the trees & says he wants to increase the urban canopy.    This is good.

Saving Our Trees blog does not focus on private trees.  Public trees are more than enough work for one person to concentrate on.

I have always felt sorry for residents who have spoken to me about problem trees on their property & how hard it is to get permission to remove them.  It is a difficult subject because most of the ground to create a viable urban forest is private land.

The NSW government created the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code in 2014.  This Code allowed landowners to chop down trees on their property within 10-metres of a home & clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs on their property within 50-metres of their home, without a permit.  As a result, many of the leafy suburbs in Sydney lost a great percentage of their urban forest.  Many of the trees removed were significant, both in terms of visibility & were landmark trees & in providing homes & food for wildlife.   Trees removed were often not within the permitted area for tree removal.   There was an uproar in the community, the NSW Liberal government knew what was happening & gave notice of 18-months before they would change this law.  As a result, there was a rush to get trees chopped down.

Pittwater Council, Manly Council & Warringah Council fought the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Code to prevent further tree loss, as they believed trees were being removed to make way for development, to enhance views, especially water views & that many trees were not being removed because they presented a fire risk.

I think this period of time showed that people will remove trees when they get the opportunity & there are many in Sydney who dislike trees.  This is of huge concern with rising temperatures due to climate change.  Wildlife is already in serious trouble because of a lack of habitat & food. We need a culture change in the way we regard trees.

I restate that I do believe that some trees are not appropriate for the spaces they have been planted, but I also believe this needs to be decided by Council.   So, I hope if the Mayor’s planned changes get through, that our community does not further decimate what is in reality a poor urban forest.

I also have concerns about what tree species will replace what is removed.  If you remove a gum tree & replace with a Crepe Myrtle for example.  I feel the same about the species choices for public trees as well.  I hope that Council insists that replacement trees offer amenity & help wildlife.

Labeling trees as ‘dangerous’ is also a problem.  Yes, people do get hurt or killed by trees, but it is a very small percentage.  Yet every day we get into cars & the statistics for people getting hurt or killed by vehicles is massive.  We ignore that & focus on trees.

Trees are useful to us.  They provide shade & oxygen for us to breathe.  They clean the air of pollution, especially particulate matter from vehicles.  A view of trees helps kids learn & all of us recover faster from illness.

To be amongst trees makes us feel peaceful & helps lift depression & calms anxiety. Trees sequester carbon & help mitigate climate change.   One tree can cool the air as much as ten residential air conditioners operating 20-hours a day & they do this silently & without using electricity.

Trees drop the cost of power, act as wind breaks & block off sound.  They also reduce storm water runoff, slow down cars & lower crime.

Shopping areas with lots of leafy trees have been shown to increase shopper spending by 11%.  They also raise property values, so there is a monetary reason to keep them & a monetary benefit to plant them.

Trees are great.   They keep us alive, keep us feeling good & work to improve our health.  Living in an area with few trees mean that the beauty that trees provide is not present.  Streets are also hot & birdsong is sparse.  Even if you think it is okay to be without trees, you are actually missing out on many proven benefits to your mental, emotional & physical health.

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