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Pink Grevillea

1. Dr Maxine Cooper, the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability & the Environment has released a report recommending that the Urban Forest Renewal Program be tossed out & instead create a new position of Tree Curator to engage with Canberra residents about public trees.  She also recommends an extra $4 million a year ongoing to look after the 730,000 trees in the ACT. “So it’s like our health, if you look after yourself better & give attention to health, there’s less need for medicine. The same for trees. If you look after trees they actually will last longer.”

The Banksias are in flower

2. Mosman Council has a webpage called ‘Big Ideas for Mosman.’ One of the ideas is to plant fruit trees in public places.  This is an initiative I see happening a lot overseas.  Public fruit trees are also being planted as part of Sydney City Council’s Sustainable Streets project.

3. Still with Mosman Council, Brush Turkey chicks have been sighted at Reid Park & Millet Road.  The birds have been recorded in these areas since 2009, but large numbers have not been seen since the Depression when hungry people ate them. Brush Turkeys are protected under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974. Male Brush Turkeys continually rake an enormous mound of leaves to keep their eggs at the perfect temperature.

4. Myrtle Rust, a serious fungal disease of plants, has been confirmed in world heritage listed Lamington National Park. Myrtle Rust affects Eucalypts, Bottle brush & Tea tree as well as other Australian native plants. It can have a devastating affect in forests – “deformation of leaves, heavy defoliation of branches, dieback, stunted growth & plant death.” It spreads rapidly & procedures have been put in place to try to prevent this from happening.,20931

Palm tree

On 1st March 2011 Bio Security announced that Myrtle Rust had been found at a Cairns nursery making this the farthest north detection of the fungus.  Associate Professor Andres Drenth, a plant pathologist at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences said, “It’s likely to have a substantial long-term impact. It will affect reproductive rates for infected eucalypts. In the next generation, those resistant species will become more dominant & slowly over time you will get a change of species. This will also affect the animals that are dependent on these species.”

5.   Hills Shire Council opened their main street project this week. Unveiled were new street trees & shrubs, new lighting & paving, outdoor-dining spaces & wombat crossings. Wombat Crossings!  How fantastic to have wild wombats in Sydney.

6. An undefined number of Poplar trees were chopped down by Meriton  at a Warriewood Valley development site.  Meriton said the tree removal complied with their DA approved by the Planning Assessment Commission & they will replace the trees with native plants. Residents are angry about the tree-clearing saying they bought their properties because of the green leafy view. Now they will be looking onto & into units.  Poplars are big dramatic broad-leafed trees with lime green leaves. They are popular with birds & make the most terrific sound when the wind blows through the leaves.

7. Currawong, a holiday park opposite Palm Beach in Pittwater has been purchased for $12.2 million by the NSW state government to be made into a new state park. This has been a long battle to keep this iconic park in the ownership of the people.

The Cooks River bank near Mackey park was turned into a crime scene last week. It appears a car was driven into the river

8. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has ordered the all cows out of Alpine National Park in Victoria by 8th April 2011. The Victorian government put the cows into the national park in January 2011 as “part of a scientific research.” An Environmental Assessment of the impact of cattle grazing in the park had not been performed. When the paperwork was given to the Minister mid-March he said, “The information that has eventually come from the Victorian government is a joke. For something that is meant to be a university research project, we’re provided with documentation that wouldn’t pass as high school science homework.”

9. “Gloves are off” regarding community opposition to the Gunns Ltd pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.  Over 1,000 people protested at what will likely be the first of many demonstrations since the Federal government approved the $2.5 billion pulp mill. It’s hard for people to say the protests are just the work of green-left radicals when universally loved ex-Gardening Australia host Peter Cundall was one of the main speakers. I.50-minute ABC News video –

10. Staying in Tasmania – whether you like or dislike Senator Bob Brown, his donation of his Liffey Valley bushland home ‘Oura Oura’ in Northern Tasmania to Bush Heritage Australia is a generous act indeed. The 14-hectare parcel of land is environmentally significant & provides habitat to numerous threatened species such as ‘the tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle & the grey goshawk.’ The Liffey River flows through the land. Senator Brown founded Bush Heritage in 1991. plus a 1.02-minute video showing footage of ‘Oura Oura’ land.

Gum nuts



winter trees along the Cooks River

Conservation group Bat Advocacy with funding from Humane Society International is taking Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Trust to the Federal Court to contest Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s decision to allow the bats to be dispersed using noise. I had not realized that permission was given for the noise dispersion to occur for the next 20 years.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Trust recently announced that the relocation, expected to start in July, has been postponed until next year, because of the inability to tag enough flying foxes. Dr Tim Entwisle, the executive director of the Botanic Gardens Trust, said many of the bats were too underweight to tag. Bats are also starving all over Australia & leaving QLD & flying as far as Adelaide & Tasmania in the search for food.

Up to 7,000 grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species in NSW, have moved in to Parramatta Park along the banks of Parramatta River. They have come to this location due to severe food shortages in their usual habitat.  I hope Parramatta Council don’t decide to use dispersion or chop the trees down.

Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt & Sydney universities, Professor David Gloldney has been employed by Orange City Council to look at ways of preventing flying foxes returning to central western NSW. He says so far he has been looking at the legal implications of the recent arrival of the grey-headed flying foxes. “To look at the various acts under the National Parks and Wildlife and DECCW [the Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water] & the Federal Government’s Endangered Species Act.”

Yet more critically endangered Cumberland Plain & endangered shale transition forest woodland is at risk of development in Kellyville. Hills Shire Council wants to clear 10 hectares of its own woodland at Withers Rd Kellyville despite massive community opposition. They have applied for a State Government BioBanking Agreement that would allow it  the Council to clear this land in return for protecting land somewhere else.  The community met a fortnight ago as part of Council’s community consultation.

Wyong Council has directed that all gardens around caravans & mobile homes be removed in all caravan parks in Budgewoi, Canton Beach, Norah Head & Toowoon Bay. Another win for the fans of concrete.

* Bankstown Council discovered 3 large gums in Greenacre Heights Reserve had holes drilled into them, poisoned & killed.   The Land & Environment Court can fine anyone caught poisoning trees up to $1million.

* 12 residents are considering legal action against Hills Shire Council for severely cutting back 15 Tallowood trees in Gooden Reserve.

* 10 mature healthy trees will be removed from Glenmore Road Public School in Woollahra LGA for the erection of a hall & a shed as part of the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution program upsetting residents.  One particularly large tree will be chopped down for a garden shed.

* An amazing story where the community in West Sacramento trying to save a massive old Butternut tree may take the issue to court.  The tree has a girth measuring 6.7 metres (22 feet) & lives in the “ideal spot for a sewer pump …” Unbelievable.

fern fronds

* Not trees, but I wanted to share anyway. 50 healthy adult Canadian geese were taken from Rapid City’s Canyon Lake Park by the Game Fish & Parks Department & euthanized.  The Canada geese are migratory birds that fly to Canyon Lake.  The Game Fish & Parks Department estimates that between 300-500 Canadian geese call Canyon Lake home this time of year. The number surges around Christmas to the thousands, which is too many for some.

So at a large & beautiful lake, people come with food to feed the geese. The geese think this is great & they come to the mowed shoreline & waggle up to the people who have come to feed them.  Then the geese poop on the grass & cement paths. The people get mad. “I can’t have poop on my shoe!” The authorities come in & start culling the geese. To be fair, the authorities have had a 10 year ban on feeding the geese & even had a $5 fine if caught, but for some reason, this hasn’t deterred people.

* The Urban Forestry Administration for Washington DC has called for community assistance to water street trees during the country’s heat wave. While UFA crews are watering all 3,500 new trees we planted this year, we are calling on District residents & businesses to help water street trees close to their homes & offices. Together, we can ensure that these taxpayer-funded assets provide their full environmental, economic, & social benefits for years to come.  It takes less than 10 minutes a week to fill the free slow-drip watering device provided by the city to any individual who adopts street trees through UFA’s Canopy Keepers program. Washington DC has 140,000 trees around the city.

Gum nuts

* A date for your diary – The 2nd Walk Against Warming will take place on –

  • Sunday 15 August 2010 starting at 12 noon
  • Meet at Belmore Park (next to Central Station).

Together, we will remind government that we’re doing our bit on climate change. We’re working hard to reduce greenhouse pollution. We’re saving water & energy. We’re buying greenpower. We’re forming climate action groups. It’s time for the government to do their bit.

* The UK Environment Secretary said, If any organism has demonstrated an ability to multi-task, it’s trees. She added that in some parts of inner London, it was calculated that each tree was deemed to be worth as much as £78,000 in terms of its benefits. The Woodland Trust is also launching the More Trees More Good campaign & plan to plant 20 million native trees across the UK every year for the next 50 years.

* Stunningly imaginative, the Memorial Plaza design at Ground Zero NYC intends to use harvested stormwater for 400 Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) & Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) trees in suspended pavement system. The paving of the plaza will rest on a series of pre-cast concrete tables that “suspend” the Plaza over troughs of planting soil that run the full width of the Plaza. 

The suspended paving system will allow the soil to remain uncompacted, since the paving that people walk on is separated from the planting soil below.

* The National Highway Authority of India plans to chop down 16,000 trees, some over 100-years old, along the picturesque two-lane roadway between Thalapady & Kundapur to make it a four-lane stretch.

* Andy Kenney a senior lecturer on urban forestry at the University of Toronto & one of his former students has launched a program called Neighbourwoods to train citizens how to do tree inventories in their neighbourhood. “We wanted to see if we could get volunteers to engage in urban forestry beyond tree planting.

* New Orleans has a policy of allowing street trees to grow regardless of cracking to footpaths & road surfaces. To see what they allow their trees to become click on the link.

* The Washington DC Tree Act protects trees with a circumference of 55 inches or more classifying them as Special Trees. Fines for damaging or removing a tree of this size is a minimum of US$5,500. I mention this because they protect trees that would be classified as ordinary.

* Detroit USA is reinventing itself now that half the population has gone leaving behind 33,000 empty lots & vacant houses.  Like in no other city in the world, urban farming has taken root in Detroit, not just as a hobby or a sideline but as part of a model for a wholesale revitalisation of a major city. Some farms are the product of hardy individualists or non-profit community groups. Others, like Hantz Farms, are backed by millions of dollars and aim to build the world’s biggest urban farm right in the middle of the city.

* The US is covering car parks with solar panels, not only to protect the cars from the sun, but to use the space to create clean energy.  I predict this will be commonplace before long.

Camelia in full bloom

On 24th January 2010 I reported in Tree News Local & International of a report by The Cumberland Courier of the death of a grove of 40 year old Gums on a property in Boundary Road, Box Hill which was being investigated by Hills Shire Council & Castle Hill police.  Seems Hills Shire Council believes the trees have been poisoned as they have drill holes in them.  Apart from the Gums, a number of Ironbarks thought to be older than 100 years are also dying on this property.   Sad. Sad. Sad.  You can read the first part of the story here –

& the second follow-up article here –

Energy Australia is getting more negative publicity this time from the  Inner West Courier.

Coffs Harbour City Council just won a court case against a company owner for the removal of koala habitat trees on a Moonee property in June 2009.  The company received a hefty fine.  To read this click on the following –

I don’t know if this type of offence has always made news, but it seems to me that tree vandalism is making the news globally at the moment. I think this is terrific.  When I was growing up people did dreadful things to trees & there was no-one to call them to account for it.  The attitude was ‘man conquers trees’ & we have huge loss of forests world-wide & a massive reduction in the percentage of urban trees to show for it.

Times have changed & it seems the community is insisting that offences against trees be punished.  This type of attitudinal shift will only benefit us in the long-term & perhaps over the next 30 years we can leave the world in a much better state than it is currently.

The Cooks River Valley Times this week had the intended massive expansion (more than double) of Marrickville Metro shopping centre on their front page.  If AMP do get approval to expand Marrickville Metro, we will lose another lot of healthy, mature & old Hills Figs.  There are more than 20 which surround the shopping complex.  Apart from the food & shelter these trees give to local wildlife, they serve a very important role in disguising the visually unpleasant complex, which is basically a cement box with entrances & ramps leading to car parking.  Okay, this is what malls generally look like, but the Figs are way too precious to be chopped down to significantly enlarge a centre where shop-keepers have told me during general chit-chat over last 2-3 years that they are struggling to survive.  There are also a number of tall Eucalypts with trunks around 2-3 metres which may also have to go if the building expands outwards & not upwards.  This DA is going to have a big impact for the community if it goes ahead. I seem to remember Marrickville Council’s Draft LEP mentioning something about new units planned to house thousands of people within 800 metres from Metro.  Oh boy. More high-rise.

Integral Energy have “chastised some of its contactors for overzealous pruning of street trees” after the street trees in Christine Street Northmead were ruined.  Intergal Energy admitted their contactor “got it wrong.”  In the article written in the Cumberland Courier the energy company talks about their tree pruning practices & training.

I’ll start this post with a clarification concerning the last post Cambridge Street tree axed today.  I realised over breakfast this morning that I had generalised when I said, Once again, regarding the Cambridge Street tree, the Greens voted to keep the tree.  Once again, the vote to remove the tree comes from the other counselors.” In fact, with regards to the Cambridge Street tree, Independent Councillor Morris Hanna did not vote, as he was not in attendance at that particular meeting.  My apologies to Councillor Hanna.

I have decided to do another post on tree news from around the world.  I am assuming you will find it as interesting as I do & it gives us comparisons in which to measure our own Marrickville Council in regards to trees.

I'd call this street tree 'The Pride of Chatswood' except there are many street trees like this one, enough to be common

I received interest from the UK regarding the last post, where I mentioned that some Australian municipal councils erect billboards in place of trees that have been deliberately vandalised to get better access to a scenic view. Perhaps UK councils are considering using billboards to act as a deterrent to the recent rampant vandalism of trees in their country.

Caitlin from Save Our Figs in Newcastle found the following for me which, though old news, made me roar with laughter.  In 1998 Port Stephens Council on the mid-north coast of NSW placed 2 shipping containers on top of each other on a cliff in place of 20 trees that were illegally cut down to gain access to better views of picturesque Boat Harbour. Post Stephens Council also planted saplings to replace the trees & intended to keep the shipping containers in place for 3 years until the saplings reached a decent size.  Unsurprisingly, the locals were not amused.

To read the full story complete with photo that I wish I could use, click on the following link.

News more recent & local: the Cumberland Courier newspaper reported that Hills Shire Council & Castle Hill police are investigating the death of numerous trees on a property in Boundary Road, Box Hill. A grove of 40 year old Gums have died, yet the trees on properties either side are lush & green. The police are involved because they believe the trees were poisoned. It wouldn’t be the first time bush properties have been used for the dumping of chemicals. Causing deliberate harm to trees is called Malicious Damage in police speak & can incur hefty penalties including gaol time if severe enough.  You can read the full story here –

a row of recent street tree planting in Chatswood. Note how close together they are planted

In Seattle USA, a dozen 50 year old Fir trees both on private & public land were chopped down in the middle of the night to make way for better views.  Seattle doesn’t require a permit to chop down trees on private land unless on slopes or along the shore.  It calls itself the Emerald City, yet Seattle’s percentage of tree canopy has dropped from 40% in 1972 to 18% currently.

Seattle is trying to regreen the city to the first target of 30% cover.  In 1999 the budget for Parks & Recreation was US$250,000.  In 2010 it is US750,000 rising to US$1.2 million in 2011.  This is serious tree planting money & I would be interested to learn of Marrickville Council’s budget for tree planting.  Perhaps it would be fairer to compare the budget for City of Sydney Council instead.

The same article reminds readers of when a senior Seattle Judge was fined US$500,000 after he was found guilty of illegally chopping down 120 trees in a public park below his house.  The trees obscured his view of Lake Washington.  Can you imagine chopping down 120 trees in the middle of the night?  He must have been strong  & fit as none of the men I know would be up to this job.  No words of his position as a Senior Judge & bastion of society.

The article has other news including links & is well worth reading.  You can read it at the following link –

Tree news is a fairly recent phenomenon.  It used to be that only the most profound or shocking tree news was reported, but in recent months a great deal of tree related news is being written in the papers & on the internet.  This post is again too long so I will post the second part of recent news soon.



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