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Driving down Renwick Street Marrickville South yesterday afternoon I saw to my horror a pile of greenery lying at the base & along the gutter underneath the Hills Figs near the corner of Carrington Road.  These trees have been mutilated AGAIN!  I last posted about this group of trees on 5th January 2010 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/

I have watched these trees since 1996.  These magnificent Hills Figs stood sentinel to the old PYE factory. For some years an electrical company used a part of the site & the rest was a busy timber yard and then an also busy scaffolding supplier. Large trucks used to go in & out the property 6 days a week & nothing happened to the Fig trees except people used to treat them as a dumping ground for all sorts of household rubbish & for the sake of neatness, they were compelled to put this at the base of their trunks.

Then the property was sold & a DA was lodged with Marrickville Council around 2007.  My awareness of these Fig trees heightened because part of the DA was to remove a perfectly healthy magnificent Hills Fig on the Warren Road side of the development & a couple of others on Carrington Rd & Renwick Street for driveways & public visibility of the complex itself.  The community fought this DA for a year ending up in the Land & Environment Court.  The outcome concerning the trees was that only one tree would be removed to construct a driveway at a different place at the front of the development. The community’s fight managed to keep the loss down to one tree.

Over the past 2-3 years, I have watched all sorts of massive damage occur to these trees.  No one knows who is doing it, though we surmise it is done by parking trucks because the damage is done high up in the branches on the road side of the tree.

Renwick Street Marrickville South showing the actual path drivers take & how much room & clearance there is regarding the row of Hills Fig trees

The Fig trees on Carrington Road are literally cleaved out after trucks parking there tore off branches. It’s unlikely that passing trucks did the damage as Marrickville Council has pruned these trees to ensure they are not an obstacle to traffic.  Both Carrington Road & Renwick Street are wide enough for trucks to pass easily & safely.  However, Council seems to not be able to do anything about drivers who decide to park close to the kerb & ram their way through branches.  The only solution is to prohibit trucks parking there.

Do the drivers come in so fast they are unable to brake?  Or do they find the branches a pest & deliberately ram into them?

These trees are very much loved by the community.  They are a landmark in the area &, as there are not many large street trees in this area, we would like to keep them for as long as possible.

I have asked people how they feel about these trees & the response is always one of fervent approval immediately followed by concern that something is going to happen to them.  Recently people have approached me to talk about the state of the Hills Figs on Carrington Road.  In conversations there is an air of pessimism about these trees.

The Tree Strategies Issues Paper which was before Council earlier this year recommended that 59% of the trees in Marrickville LGA be removed.  Council were recommending targeting the mature trees which were labelled ‘senescent,’ meaning ‘approaching an advanced age.’  This block of Hills Figs are senescent.  I would guess they are around 80 years old.

Am I alone in thinking that older, mature trees look fabulous in the main?  It is their size & height that I find particularly attractive & trees need years to grow large.  I don’t understand the need to chop trees down when they are mature, though it has been explained to me that urban trees find it difficult to grow to their full life span because of the difficulties inherent in an urban environment – soil compaction, injury, lack of water, lack of nutrients, disease.  Why can’t Council take special care of our older special trees when they are senescent?  Why is the answer to chop them?  I need to say here that Marrickville Council has not suggested removing these particular trees.

Considering all the adversity these trees are suffering because of human activity, I fear that Council will look at these trees in a year or two & say, “Too damaged.  They need to be removed.”  Chop!  There goes another link to the area’s history & another major loss of beauty that we sorely need.  Not to mention the CO2 sequestration they achieve.

It would be preferable if Council could do something to prevent trucks parking there because the drivers can’t be trusted to not damage the trees.  I know that City of Sydney Council would not tolerate such vandalism done to their trees.  They consider trees the city’s assets & I think they exercise more power over roads because of being the city of Sydney.

I also believe that if Marrickville Council did have a Significant Tree Register, this would go some way in helping implement strategies to protect these trees from drivers.

This week’s damage destroyed yet another large branch.  The photos below tell the remainder of the story.

The yellow arrows indicate damage spots to two of the trees

1.          The Cumberland Courier reported that Energy Australia is to spend $62 million installing high-voltage power lines between substations at Allambie Heights & Balgowlah to protect endangered tree communities at River Flat Eucalyptus Forest & Duffys Forest Ecological Community & to not damage historic Sloane Crescent Bridge.  This is a great thing they are doing. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/power-plan-to-protect-trees/

showing the Optus cables clearance - extreme at this end of Renwick St Marrickville South. At the other end of this street the branches were pruned to & above the Optus cables

Pity about what Energy Australia did to the street trees at the Woolworths end of Renwick Street during ‘routine pruning’  last February.   People just looked at the trees with their mouth open.  As usual, the feeling was “the damage is done & there is nothing we can do about it.”

It is such as shame as we know they can do better.  See https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/tree-pruning-planting-practices-compare/ where just last February I complimented Energy Australia for the good pruning they did in Excelsior Parade.  Even Renwick Street has different pruning outcomes.  The lower end, towards Carrington Road, the street trees were moderately pruned. Some trees that had been almost destroyed during the previous pruning cycle 7-8 years ago were looked after this time.  Interestingly, Energy Australia workers did not clear branches below the Optus cables at this end of Renwick Street, whereas up the other end the Optus cables where given a huge clearance. The trees on the corner of Renwick & Excelsior had more than 2/3s of their canopy removed.

2.         Brisbane City Council announced they will plant 2 million trees across the city by 2012.  This is a fabulous initiative & the community can participate. http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:BASE::pc=PC_2645

Their website http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:BASE::pc=PC_694 says residents can request a street tree be planted & provides a list of suitable trees.  Brisbane City Council also say they plant trees which will not interfere with overhead powerlines & that street trees are classified as “valuable Council & community assets” & protected under the Natural Assets Local Law making it an offence to prune, interfere with or remove street trees.  Wonderful.

In another lovely initiative, Brisbane City Council has organised Tree Trail. Information & a map of 20 locations can be downloaded highlighting special & significant trees around the CBD.  I think this is a terrific idea & believe it would be a boon for tourism.  HTTP://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:BASE::pc=PC_936

3.                 Hornsby Councillor Bruce Mills’ proposal to plant mature trees to create ‘instant boulevards’ was voted in during a March Council Meeting.  Residents need to request that their street become a tree-lined boulevard. Councillor Mills says this initiative will be “returning ratepayer funds in a way which adds to their property value.” http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-streets-are-a-reality-in-cherrybrook/

After pruning by Energy Australia, this tree on Renwick Street is a shadow of its former self

The Boulevard in Dulwich Hill is an excellent local example of a street loved because of its many, large street trees that cascade over the road.  Ask any real estate agent & they will tell you this street is sort after with buyers paying more to purchase property here because of the presence of these trees.

The following is a short, but relevant article about trees & property value in America.  Adelaide University has assessed the value of trees upwards to 25% of the property’s value in line with Australian property prices as they are more expensive than in the USA. http://www.keeferealestate.com/news/concierge.php?itemid=620

Personally, I would love it if our Council copied the ‘instant boulevard’ idea. Even planting more developed trees would be a step forward as these have a greater chance of surviving.  City of Sydney Council planted 200 litre root-ball 4 metre high Simon Poplars along & on the corner of side streets in Glebe Point Road  in 2009.   All these trees have survived & are growing well.  There positive impact was immediate & the area looks greener & prettier for it.

4.                 City of Sydney Greens Councillor Chris Harris wrote about a proposed cycleway in Johnstons Creek that he says will destroy wildlife habitat.  This new 2.5 meter wide cement path starts at Orphan Creek, an woodland & wildlife habitat area in Forest Lodge that was decimated for a similar path in 2009 despite enormous & organised community opposition.  What is also disturbing in this article is residents from Minogue Crescent who are directly affected by the new cycleway, were refused permission to address the Councillors during a Council Meeting who ‘voted in a block’ to deny them this opportunity.  I would have thought it a right.   http://www.chrisharris.org.au/2010/03/10/johnstons-creek-cycleway-on-the-wrong-track/

5. The Daily Telegraph reported that State Forests NSW started woodchip logging in the Mumbulla & Murrah state forests on 29th March 2010 despite this being the last area in SE NSW where the threatened species Koala lives. A group of residents attempting to save the Koala habitat managed to stop logging by getting in the way of loggers. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/tense-stand-off-over-koala-colony/story-e6freuyi-1225847595335?from=public_rss

This street tree in Renwick Street had a naturally round canopy. Before it was pruned early 2010, it looked something like the area shaded in yellow. It may have been taller

Koalas are listed as a threatened species & classified as ‘vulnerable.’ From the NSW state governments own web-site – A ‘vulnerable’ species is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances & factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate. Yet, they are taking down forests where Koalas are known to live.  I just don’t understand this.

Everyone fell in love with the burnt Koala who was filmed drinking water given by a Fireman during last year’s Victorian bushfires, but we can’t rely on our government to save our national emblem.  For more information about this issue including how you can help, go to Nature Conservation Council of NSW http://nccnsw.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3002&Itemid=1

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