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Two Hills Figs (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) are up for removal on Cavendish Street (frontage of 1 Liberty Street) Stanmore.

Marrickville Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • Root growth from the trees has caused significant sewer, infrastructure & property damage
  • Pruning of tree roots is not a viable long-term option as regrowth is certain
  • Installation of root barriers is not a viable option as pruning of roots in close proximity to the tree stems would compromise their structural integrity and present an unacceptable hazard risk

One of the Hills Figs on Cavendish Street Stanmore

The trees will be replaced following consultation for the Cavendish Street tree upgrade.

These trees also had 4 Notice of Removal signs nailed into them.

Having visited these trees, I can see the problem.  The placement of the Figs 1 metre from the boundary fence & about 2.5 metres from the back part of the house itself means that it is impossible for the offending roots to be pruned & a root barrier put in place. If Council did this, the tree would certainly fall.

There are 2 ways to deal with this problem.

  1. Chop the trees down & fix the sewerage pipes. Council wants to do this.
  2. Fix the sewerage pipes and any other damage leakage has caused & keep the trees. This will cost money that Council doesn’t have or doesn’t want to spend.

Sewer pipes can be fixed. My plumber tells me that he regularly inserts a blow-up pipe into 100-year-old cracked terracotta pipes. Sydney is full of these pipes. Once the new pipe has been expanded it sets solid like concrete & cannot be broken into by tree roots even if the tree is a good old strong Fig. Using the cheaper intervention of an electric eel to cut off roots that have entered the pipe is only a temporary solution as the roots grow back & the pipe blocks again.

I know in other places, particularly in Europe & the US, healthy trees of this size would have everything possible done to save them.

I will not be putting in a submission.  However, if there is movement in the community to save these 2 trees, I will do whatever I can to try to save them. The deadline for submissions is 9th August 2010.

Two Hills Figs up for removal in Cavendish Street Stanmore

Marrickville Council intends to remove 1 Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis) outside 3 Calvert Street Marrickville.

Council gives the following reasons for removal:

  • Root growth from the tree has apparently caused fence damage on private property.
  • The species is considered a potential environmental weed.

Council say they will replace the tree with a Queensland brush box (Lophostemon confertus) though they don’t say when they will do this.

3 Calvert Street Marrickville

I went to visit this tree today.  First impressions were this is a beautiful tree planted in a lovely garden bed making this little area of Calvert Street look very nice. It is the only large tree in the street.

I was sad to see that Council’s Notice of Removal signs were nailed into the tree.  I had thought Marrickville Council had ceased this practice as they have been securing signs to trees with sticky tape for the last few months. I did notice that the trees in Toothill Street & Park Road also had their tree removal signs nailed, but as it was a given that these trees would be removed, I made no mention.  I am very disappointed that this practice has become the norm, as once again Council is sending a clear message to the community not to bother sending in a submission.

Council has excavated the footpath exposing a large root that travels underneath the brick front fence of the property.  No other roots enter the property.

The damage to the brick fence appears to be caused by the tree root, but the damage is restricted to one pillar on a 8-10 meter brick fence.  As is common with pillars regardless of whether there are trees nearby, the pillar has sustained a medium sized crack, which threatens to disconnect it from the remaining fence.

fence & tree root 3 Calvert Street Marrickville

I always take a man experienced in building with me where the tree is said to have caused structural damage.  His advice was the fence pillar is unlikely to fall in the near future without some other causative factor like a car crashing into it.  He said the fence could be easily repaired by filling the crack with cement & giving it a splash of paint. He said it they were really scared that the pillar might fall, they could fit a connector bolt to secure the pillar to the main fence.

I do not believe the damage is sufficient to warrant the removal of this beautiful street tree & will be putting in a submission asking Marrickville Council to repair the footpath, but deny the request to have the tree removed.

The tree is mature & healthy. I don’t care that Marrickville Council regards it as a potential environmental weed.  They also think Camphor laurel trees are environmental weeds, but City of Sydney Council has retained them as street trees in many places across their LGA such as Glebe Point Road, while Marrickville Council removes them.

Calvert Street is one of those streets that has very little green & almost no tree canopy.  This tree is important to the local community for the visual beauty & for maintaining property values. It also cleans up pollution from the large volume of traffic that drive through this street every day.

It would take many years for a street tree in these conditions to grow to this size.  We as a community need to keep all the trees we can.

Chinese hackberry is said to compete with native flora & is therefore detrimental to the local environment.  However, there is no native environment nearby.  Much of what surrounds this tree is cement, buildings & bitumen.

City of Sydney Council protects Chinese hackberry trees if they are 10 metres tall or more.

street tree Calvert Street

I would only support this tree’s removal if Marrickville Council plants more good-sized street trees along Calvert Street & only at a time when those trees have grown to a decent size. If this tree is removed now, it will denude the street of its greenery & have a negative impact on property values.  If it were happening on my street, I would be doing what I could to save this tree because of the impact its removal will have on my property value & the health of my family, especially if the tree was close to my house.

I know properties are going for high prices in Marrickville even if they are imbedded in cement, but ask any real estate agent whether a house is likely to go for a higher price if there is a good looking street tree out front & they will say yes.  The difference in what a property can sell for is significantly higher.  If people realised this, they would never allow street trees to be removed or be butchered by energy companies.

As is always the case, if mine is the only submission, the tree will likely go. I ask that you please send a submission to Marrickville Council.  You don’t need to live near the tree to be allowed to do this. The trees across the LGA belong to all of us & they benefit all of us.  I need others who care about street trees to help by sending in submissions even if the tree is not in their area.

I am happy to send you a draft if this will make it easier. You can change it as you see fit or just sign & e-mail it to Council. The deadline for submissions is Monday 9th August 2010.  Thank you. J

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

On 19th March, the following 3 street trees were put up on Marrickville Council’s web-site for removal.

1. Mature Corymbia citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum) outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill.  This tree was the first campaign for SoT in June last year.  At that time Council said the problem was ‘whole tree failure’ which I & other members of the community disputed.

showing the recent splits & the 'bleeding' from the nails which were hammered in last June 2009 - using a wide angle lens makes the tree appear taller than it is

The outcome was Council surveyed the tree & intended to monitor to see if the lean increased.  Their report says a lot has happened to this tree since then.

This time they say: Asymmetric root–plate development due to restrictive growth environment. (as does a huge percentage of mature trees in Marrickville LGA due to failure to remove cement from around their trunks), buttressing of the base of the tree over the adjacent kerb.  This predisposes the tree to wind-throw in extreme weather conditions.  There is also a risk of whole tree failure if the kerb collapses. Extensive structural root & crown decay in the plane of compressive stress.  This condition is compounded by the tree exhibiting a moderate lean in the plane of decay.  The decay has been caused by the presence of the naturally occurring fungal decay pathogen Armilaria leuteobubalina.  The tree is exposed to south-easterly winds in the direction of lean & in the plane of decay.  This is compounded by the tree exhibiting an asymmetric canopy, with the majority of the canopy being present in the direction of the lean of the tree (what does Council think of all the masses of asymmetric trees which have been made this way by Energy Australia?)  Severance of structural roots on the windward side of the tree as a result of excavations undertaken by Sydney Water.

I interpret the above as: this tree is likely to fall over if there is an extreme weather event, especially if the wind comes from a south-easterly direction or if the sandstone kerb collapses.  The tree has been placed at risk because Sydney Water severed its structural roots.  Finally, the tree has caught a fungal disease & this sews up the argument for removal.  As this fungus stays in the ground for a while, Council will not replace the tree for 2 years. Council does not say what species the replacement will be.

I went to have a look at this tree & its condition has really changed.  In my opinion it needs to go.  I can’t identify Armilaria leuteobubalina, but I can tell when a tree is deteriorating & this one is.  It has recently developed 2 large vertical splits in its trunk that regardless of the other things afflicting this tree, indicate its demise.

Its loss is going to have a dramatic affect on the streetscape as it cascades beautifully over Union Street & is clearly visible from the café on the corner.  The deadline for submissions is 2nd April 2010.

2. The second street tree is a Eucalyptus scoparia (Wallangarra White Gum) outside 70 Railway Street Petersham.  Council’s report says:  Extensive stem decay & is at risk of

showing the decay & damage by borers

breakage. No disagreement from me with this tree.  It looks like it has or had borers & they entered via a newly cut branch.

I am pleased to note that Council says they will replace it with a Lemon Scented Gum.  I do know a number of Petersham residents who are worried that Council will remove their Gums.  (I just realised how this reads like & will leave it for a bit of fun).  Put in a way that does not sound like dental work, residents fear that Council will remove the Eucalypts, so replacement with a tall growing Eucalypt will please many.  The deadline for submissions is 9th April 2010.

3.  The third tree required a certain amount of sleuthing on my part to locate because I failed to notice the word ‘adjacent.’  This is another Eucalyptus scoparia (Wallangarra

massive damage to this tree as well as termites

White Gum).  It sits in a lovely little space between 2 types of stairs (ordinary/normal stairs & thrill-seeker/kill off your granny stairs – see photo in this post) that connect Day Street with Hampden Avenue.  There are a number of mature trees in this little triangle of dirt.

Council’s report says: Extensive column decay in trunk. Termite activity evident. Again, both these were easy to see.  I also think the people who live in the house directly next to & below this particular tree may breath a sigh of relief when it goes.  They may have held their breath through a few storms, worried that it would crash on their house.  I know I would have.  Council will replace this tree with a Eucalyptus microcorys (Tallow Wood), which will be nice.  The deadline for submissions is 9th April 2010.

I was enormously pleased to see that Marrickville Council had used wide sticky tape to fasten the ‘notice of removal’ signs on all 3 trees.  Thank you for doing this.  This is a big

The ramp on the right is very steep - I assume it was used when the quarry across the road was active

change from previous practice of nailing in the signs & seems more effective because all 6 signs are still in place.

I was also very pleased to note the more detailed information provided with the ‘notification for removal.’  Although I recognise this takes more time for Council staff, it helps them in the long run because the community does not have to guess why the trees are up for removal.  All 3 notifications & especially the one in Union Street gave clear & descriptive reasons.  Coupled with the use of tape instead of nails, this is a great improvement & goes to generating goodwill.

Apparently the period for submissions for public trees is 14 days, not 21 as we have experienced throughout the latter half of 2009.  Council says they allow 21 days for submissions if the tree is significant in some way.  14 days doesn’t allow much time, but if we are organised, it can be done.  It also means that I cannot be slow in noticing new trees for removal on their web-site.

I am not going to put in a submission for any of the current trees as I believe they all should be removed.



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