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Not suitable for Pittwater with its landscape of soft green & greys of native plants

Last week I spotted something interesting that Pittwater Council is doing to improve the visual outlook of the municipality.

Having long disliked buildings that are painted in garish colours like lime green, bright yellow, bright red or even striped in an attempt to make the business more noticeable & perhaps trademark it, I think what Pittwater Council are doing is quite revolutionary as they are doing this with trees.

Lime green & purple!

As part of their ‘Tree Replenishment Program’ aimed at increasing the tree canopy, Pittwater Council have said that the Leightons Cypress Pine is an undesirable species & are encouraging residents not to plant it.  Instead they give free advice to residents on what plants & trees are suitable & grow well in their area.

They also have a ‘Scenic Streets Register’ made up of pretty streets that have been chosen by local residents. This is such a great way to get the community connecting with their environment & thinking about how street trees can make or break the visual outlook of a street.  It would be great if our own Marrickville Council could do both their own version of the tree replenishment & the scenic streets programs.

Regarding the Leightons Cypress Pine, Pittwater Council’s Landscape Architect said, “Its bright lime-green colour & rigid form contrasts against the soft greens & greys of native plants which dominate the local landscape.”

It’s the little things that count. These three initiatives will ultimately increase the urban forest in Pittwater LGA & support residents to plant what will work & make the area more beautiful, instead of creating hotchpotch or areas that can be an assault on the eyes. We would certainly benefit from increasing the urban forest & perhaps one day Marrickville Council will address paint colours & signage for building exteriors for shops & shopping strips. But this last wish is perhaps being too radical. http://www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/home/news_highlights/trees_and_hedges_in_the_spotlight

Not to be missed - Parramatta Road Camperdown

Princes Highway Tempe

On 16th November 2010 Marrickville Council took its Draft Urban Forest Policy  & Strategy to the Council Meeting where it was endorsed.

The Urban Forest Policy replaces the Tree Policy, Protection of Trees & Tree Management Policy & is integrated with tree protection measures included in the Draft Development Control Plan 2010. The Draft Marrickville Urban Forest Strategy is a separate document that will be reviewed every 5 years & new priorities set.

In brief Marrickville Council intends the following –

  • Do a tree inventory & establish a Public Tree Asset Inventory. The data

    Caged trees

    collected will allow Council to know what their tree asset actually is & the actual location of trees.  This information should help Council to:  identify areas that have fewer trees & where to focus on planting, assess the health & condition of each public tree, identify when a tree can benefit from maintenance to increase its health & lifespan, keep track of tree loss from death, vandalism or removal by residents or Council,  help manage trees more effectively throughout their lifespan, plan for replacement trees in a strategic way rather than piecemeal, increase the community’s awareness about the urban canopy & increase awareness & understanding of trees’ economic, social & environmental value.

  • Take an aerial photograph to see what the actual percentage of canopy is within Marrickville LGA. This will include trees on private land.  Hopefully Council will do this every few years so they can see if their urban tree strategy is working & if the canopy is increasing.  It will allow them to target areas that need work.
  • Increase the urban forest including promoting the planting of more trees on private land.
  • Set up a Street Tree Master Plan.  This will allow creation of better looking streetscapes as well as planting larger growing trees where appropriate. A Street Tree Master Plan looks at planting the right tree for the right location.
  • Take a ‘whole of life’ management approach to managing trees.
  • Establish a Significant Tree Register.  Having such a Register will set up a

    Empty for years

    culture & philosophy of protecting our natural heritage & will go a long way to protecting significant trees. City of Sydney Council for example has 1931 trees on their Significant Tree Register.  They say, “The aim of the Register is to identify & recognise the importance of significant trees in the City’s changing urban landscape. The Register will help to guide the management of these trees & to ensure their continued protection for the benefit of the community & for future generations.  These trees are integral parts of the City’s historic, cultural, social, aesthetic & botanical heritage. Many of these trees have a story to tell & may have strong associations with past events & people.”

  • Involve the community in decision-making & care of the urban forest.
  • Identify opportunities for increasing the urban forest on State Government & “Not for Profit” organisation lands. This means that all the wastelands around the LGA could be planted out with trees instead of becoming garbage dumps or areas of long grass & weeds. It will also help do our bit for global warming.
  • Development Applications will be required to include information that will allow Council to assess potential impact on trees.
  • A bond will be set to protect public trees that may be potentially affected by development.  One only has to look at the deterioration of the bulk of the Hills Figs in Renwick Street & Carrington Road Marrickville South to see how important this will be.
  • Council will view trees as ‘infrastructure assets.’
  • Establish guidelines & procedures to manage insurance claims regarding public trees.
  • Increase the diversity of trees planted.  Hopefully the use of ornamental Pears & Prunus varieties will decrease & other species of trees will be used in place of these.  My personal opinion is these trees have almost negligible benefit for urban wildlife & there are other species that will create the same effect yet be beneficial.
  • Will look for new places to plant trees.
  • Will not prune or remove trees due to leaf, fruit drop or sap drop, bird or bat droppings or because a branch overhangs private property.

Almost treeless skyline

Last February Council recommended to the Councillors the removal of 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years.  Their paper specifically targetted ‘senescent’ trees, meaning older trees.  This is of serious concern because it is older trees that provide the most benefits both to the community & the environment.

To lose these simply because they have been assessed as coming towards or reaching their SULE (safe, useful life expectancy) may be a matter for debate.  That Council has clearly stated that they “will involve the community as a key partner in managing the urban forest of Marrickville LGA” gives me great hope that they will actually do this. But I have not found in the new Draft Policy a target number. Perhaps some of these trees that would have been targeted for removal 10 months ago will now be protected.

Another treeless skyline

I was very happy with the changes & the new direction Marrickville Council intends to go with the Draft Urban Forest Policy and Strategy.  The new policy/strategy appears to me to be quite different than what they presented in February 2010.

Much of what it proposers is already happening in many other Councils across Sydney. The new direction can only improve the management of trees & communication with the community.  Increasing the tree canopy will benefit everyone & should have a positive impact on urban wildlife.

Sydenham Road skyline. The tree that created the shade in this photo has been lost

Unfortunately, it’s an aspirational document as many of the plans will remain just plans because Council doesn’t have the money to instigate much of what is in the Draft Urban Forest Policy & Strategy.  There isn’t long before the effects of global warming become obvious especially with the heat island effect. All the experts believe that trying to grow trees in these conditions will likely be much harder than today.  We need these trees now as they take many years to grow.

The Draft Urban Forest Policy & Strategy is a large document so I will go through it & post on any sections that I find interesting or relevant.  You can read what happened in the Council Meeting about the Draft Urban Forest Policy & Strategy here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/report-from-the-gallery-–-16th-november-2010-–-part-2/

I haven’t been able to find the Draft Urban Forest Policy & Strategy on the Community Consultations page of Marrickville Council’s website. As soon as it is made available, I will post the link.  You can look for it yourself by going to –

http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/ & scrolling down to Community Consultations in the left hand column if it is not on their main page. The deadline for community consultation is 2nd February 2010.

14th December 2010 – Both the Policy & the Strategy are now on Marrickville Council’s website. You can download them here – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/get_involved/community_consultations/urbanforest.html?s=2018938229 The deadline for submissions is Monday 28th February 2011.

Many street trees across Marrickville LGA have managed to survive in these conditions

On Victoria Road Marrickville next to where the road travels under the railway line & directly opposite the Bushpocket site is RTA land. It is a desolate place filled with weeds & garbage that miraculously finds its way over the high wire fence.  The space itself is a triangular patch of land

This is just a small section as the flowers appear to have spread naturally

that abuts the goods rail line.  Twice a year the area gets mowed. Other than that, nothing happens on this patch of land & it has been like that for at least 15 years.

Earlier this year I approached the RTA to ask whether this area could be planted with trees & shrubs so it could at least be of benefit to urban wildlife, suck up some CO2 & add some beauty to this area.  Hundreds of cars travel past daily & everyone could benefit if something was done.  They said they’d get back to me but disappointingly, I have not had any contact from them.

It need not be much.  A few trees of varying heights & some native shrubs & groundcover will improve this patch of land & make it useful for however long it is not used by the RTA.

Driving past a couple of months ago bright colours caught my eye so I stopped for a look.  Somehow huge African Daisies have grown in amongst the leftover bits of bitumen & piles of garbage. It may have been the work of local guerilla gardeners who threw seed bombs over the fence or they may have been left over from when the land was used for something else. I thought it was strikingly beautiful & worth sharing, though my photos lack the impact the flowers had when I was there.

These flowers would be a good choice for ground cover in traffic islands or on verges as they have proved on this site that they are as tough as they come, surviving in harsh heat & with only rainwater.  They are also common enough & cheap enough to deter plant thieves from helping themselves.

 

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