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Last Friday, I was called to Excelsior Parade Marrickville, home of ‘The Pride of Excelsior.’ (see Shame Page) “Energy Australia are pruning the trees.”  I arrived just as they were finishing.  Whether due to recent bad publicity plaguing the energy companies or just a good crew of contractors, they had done a good job.

Energy Australia removed only what was necessary

I always give credit where when it’s due. This is one such occasion.  I have been worried about these trees knowing that Energy Australia were due.  This time there were only a few branches on the road & they had taken care not to over prune.

Interestingly, a small crowd had gathered to assess the work, indicating that others hold these trees in high esteem as well.

The trees are Brush Box, large & old, just the type that Council have recommended to be chopped down & replaced in their Tree Strategies Issues Paper (see last post).  No one knows when these trees were planted, but the housing was built in 1915.  Older residents said the trees went in around that time.  They form a canopy over the street & support a myriad of wildlife.  Everyone who comes to this street mentions the beauty of these trees.  Even the real estate agents mention them in their advertising when a house is up for sale & I am sure the house prices reflect their presence.

A Fire-Wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus, Wheel of Fire, White Beefwood, White Oak for those of you who like botanical names) had to be topped for the cables.  This native species of tree can grow to 40m, but more commonly to 15m in cultivation.  Question is, why was this tree planted under electricity wires around 5 years ago? It will continue to grow & by the time Energy Australia return, the trunk will have grown taller.  Routine pruning will then turn this tree into a flat umbrella & Council will probably chop it down.  In Los Angles, Fire-Wheels are classified as heritage trees & they are described as a ‘fragile tree.’ So, well done Energy Australia.  Thank you for leaving the trees looking beautiful.  I am sure the community will be happy you did.

Integral Energy butchered these street trees in Valentine Ave Blacktown

Not so for the residents of Valentine Avenue Blacktown & Browning Crescent Lalor Park, who complained about the pruning practices of Integral Energy contractors recently.  (see my posts More butchering of street trees & Bakers dozen or it dozen matter).  Curious to see just how bad the damage was & to compare with what has happened in Marrickville LGA, we took a trip there last weekend to see the trees. What a shocker!  They were butchered & the residents were entitled to complain.

Compare the two trees

The visit was worthwhile on a number of fronts.  I now know that Blacktown Council took action to prevent savage over-pruning, whereas in cases of severe over pruning in Marrickville LGA no action seems to have been taken.  Marrickville Council also can intervene in the future, rather than sit back & allow our assets to be destroyed.

Tree-lined M4 which must assist local wildlife

I haven’t been on the M4 for a while.  After leaving the eyesore of Parramatta Road, which seriously needs the intervention of multiple councils, we reached the expressway.  This has become a green corridor as the trees planted for the Olympics have grown & now present a tall, lush, green screen.  It is quite an achievement to make a highway look nice, but they have done it.

I also discovered that Blacktown, Seven Hills & Lalor Park are as green as Eastwood.  There are tall trees everywhere, many of them Eucalypts & it is impossible to count the trees on the horizon. I think Blacktown Council has done well regarding street trees. I found other articles about the recent pruning of street trees & in other locations the Blacktown area.  From the Blacktown Sun – http://www.blacktownsun.com.au/news/local/news/general/pruning-vandalism/1729453.aspx & another from the Blacktown Advocate – http://blacktown-advocate.whereilive.com.au/your-news/story/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/ & from the Cumberland Courier – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/your-news/comments/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/

During my research I was stunned to read that Blacktown City Council gives away 70,000 trees every year free to residents as part of the Visionary Greening Of Blacktown Program.  It’s working.  Then I came across “more than 7,000 native trees have been planted in Fairfield as part of Blacktown City Council Council’s Regenesis Project.” (Aug & Sept 09) http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/showPost.cfm?bid=11987&mycomm=WC A look at Blacktown Council’s web-site revealed more.  Over 500 residents & businesses people helped plant 23,370 native trees, shrubs & grasses over 8 month period ending June 09. http://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/news-releases/wow-23370-trees-planted-since-october.cfm

The Sikh temple & a street in the new housing estate

Even the Sikh Centre, a massive temple, has been given an Environment Grant ($4,200) to rejuvenate the local streetscape, as this is a new housing development with building still under way.

Blacktown City Council has done a Tree Inventory & they also have a Significant Tree Register.  Our Council has  neither & at present have no intention to do so.

I’m going to stop now because I sound like I have set up the Blacktown City Council Fan Club.  http://www.bccfanclub.org.au for your free t-shirt! (NOTE: no such web-site) This research started because I wanted to know why our Council ignores what happens to our street trees & Blacktown Council doesn’t.  Now I can see why.  It’s also good to know what other Council’s are doing about street trees & over-all greening of their municipality so we know what is a reasonable expectation.

Back to the Brush Box trees on Excelsior Parade.  These trees are also at risk of being damaged by passing trucks.  Residents in the area are campaigning on a number of issues & one of their concerns is that long semi-trailers on Excelsior Parade will destroy the trees.  Considering the damage heavy vehicles have caused to trees in the nearby Carrington Road (see post –https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/) I think their concerns are justified. To view their concerns go to the Council Gripe web-site at – http://councilgripe.com/content/marrickville-council-police-inaction-re-traffic-safety-warren-road-marrickville

Top right shows the overhead cables cut across the corner-the trees here were scooped out even though they were a fair distance from the cables

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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 – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/what-s-killing-box-hill-s-trees/

& the second follow-up article here – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/dying-trees-may-be-over-100-years-old-council-confirms-trees-poisoned/

Energy Australia is getting more negative publicity this time from the  Inner West Courier. http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/wrights-rd-drummoyne-ruined-days-after-resurfacing/

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 – http://www.lgtra.com/in-the-news/7-council/61-tree-preservation-order-fines-highlight-need-for-awareness.html

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.

http://www.torchpublishing.com.au/read/Valley_Times_4_February_2010/index.html

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.

http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-cant-see-the-trees-for-deforest/

The Cumberland Courier reported today of another incident of Integral Energy contractors ‘butchering’ street trees during routine pruning.  Despite the events of late January 2010 in Lalor Park (see Bakers dozen or it dozen matter below) they did it again, this time in Valentine Street Blacktown.

Quoted from the news article – The job was done so badly, an Integral Energy spokesman offered an apology to the residents & pledged to either reshape or replace the 6 trees. The pruning was “excessive 
& did not meet our standards”, he said.

Once again I thank The Cumberland Courier for reporting these matters.  I also thank the residents who were brave enough to take this company on & I thank Blacktown Council for taking action.  We will continue to suffer the effects of savage pruning unless we say this is unacceptable as well as unnecessary each time it happens & in each area where it happens. When the street trees are ruined it has a great impact on our lives for many years.

To read the article, click on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/blacktowns-butchered-trees-integral-at-it-again/

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Voren, a local resident which included a bunch of photos of mutilated street trees on Riverside Crescent Dulwich Hill.  These photos are a perfect example of how the streetscape can be ruined by pruning for electricity cables.  I was extremely happy to receive these & welcome any photos or addresses of public trees you think is worth the attention of SoT.  My e-mail address can be found on the About me page.

Voren's photos of the street trees in Riverside Crescent Dulwich Hill

On 26th January 2010 the Cumberland Courier ran another street tree article titled Tears for mutilated trees.  This time the residents of Lalor Park were distressed at the state Integral Energy left their 50-year-old street trees after pruning for overhead wires.  Terms such as “hacked,” “massacred,” “mutilated” & “butchered” were used to describe the aftermath.

Back in October 2009 Blacktown City Council put Integral Energy on notice about their pruning practices after they had pruned the trees in Riverstone & surrounding suburbs.

When they saw what happened to the street trees in Lalor Park, Blacktown Council stepped in & suspended Integral Energy’s powerline clearance pruning work.

Integral Energy apologised & now has to work under the supervision of Blacktown Council, review their tree pruning practices & fulfil a range of other requirements.

Hallelujah!  Finally a municipal council stepping in to ensure the street trees are not mutilated to the point where it is questionable whether they will survive, where the streetscape is marred for many years, where once beautiful trees are ruined forever & where people have to lose an essential part of what makes a street a desirable place to live as well as the negative impact on property values.  It may be that a council has stepped in before, but apart from Mosman Council doing so many years ago, I am unaware of this.

There is more of this tree on the ground than what is left on the tree

The Lalor Park residents say they no longer have shade on the street or footpath.  I can attest to that as my own street lost the shade from the street trees after recent pruning by Energy Australia.  When the sun is overhead we now have the long shadow of the electricity & pay TV cables instead of shade from street trees.  Frankly it looks weird & of course it is hot.

You can’t stand under a street tree having a chat to your neighbours anymore.  You have to look for shade & move to it, either on private property or walk across the road where the street trees were only slightly pruned.  This apparently small thing will have an impact on community relations over time.

This is a great article from the Cumberland Courier with much more information than I have reported.  You can read it by clicking on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tears-for-mutilated-trees/ I thank the Cumberland Courier as they have been reporting on trees frequently of late.

Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco USA recently posted a call for help on their web-site asking residents to alert them to public trees which have been illegally pruned.

Friends of the Urban Forest & the Bureau of Urban Forestry (don’t you love these names) have planted 10,928 new street trees in San Francisco since 2003.

About street trees they say, “The small, younger trees currently provide very little environmental benefit…” meaning that if older more mature trees are removed due to heavy pruning which weakens them or makes them way too ugly, then replacing them is not as good as a solution as it seems on the surface.  Personally I am worried that in our LGA we will reach the stage where we will have more young trees with thin trunks than we will have older trees.

Older trees sequester greater amounts of CO2, filter more particulate matter & other pollutants (though you need leaves to do this & there are plenty of trees with thick trunks, but with relatively few branches & leaves after pruning in Marrickville LGA), produce larger amounts of oxygen & collects more storm water runoff than does a tree with a thin trunk.

We can already see in some areas of our LGA that the skyline has few tall trees.  I think it is a shame that we can count the trees visible along the skyline.  This is not the case in many other suburbs of Sydney metropolitan area where the overall look & feel is green because their canopy is substantial.

We need to keep as many of the large stature street trees as we are able & our young trees need to be given a chance to grow up because it is then they provide the most benefit.  Severe pruning clearly demonstrated in Voren’s photographs not only makes the tree ugly & negatively impacts the streetscape & our lives, but also weakens the tree making it more susceptible to disease.  A weakened & diseased tree will be more likely to fall in a storm or some other event that places pressure upon it.

I do understand that street trees need to be pruned for the passage of overhead wires & I have never advocated that this should be stopped.  I do believe however that our electricity companies can do a much better job of pruning & Blacktown Council’s intervention has proved this.

The article by Friends of the Urban Forest is interesting reading & describes the impact of over pruning & topping.  They also have some fantastic photographs of trees that have been severely mutilated.  You can access this via the following link – http://www.fuf.net/getInvolved/topping.html

Tempe Wetlands - how will the RTA put a major arterial road over this without destroying it?

On a final note, a local community group called Tempe 2010 is holding a rally on Saturday 6th February at 11am meeting in South Street (between Hart & Fanning Streets) Tempe.  They are opposing the building of a new arterial road that is to go over the Cooks River, across the newly renovated Tempe Reserve & over the top of the lovely Tempe Wetlands ending at a t-section at Sydney Park.

SoT is interested not only because of the obvious factors of more roads, traffic, noise & pollution, but also because the Tempe Reserve is likely to be grossly affected & the damage to the wetlands is a real concern.  There is also the question of how many trees will need to be removed to build this new road.

All the details as well as how to access information from the RTA about this project & to connect with Tempe 2010 can be accessed via the Marrickville Greens web-site http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/

The Greens have been in the Inner West Courier about this issue recently & have stated they are against this project as it stands.  I hope the other councillors look into the impact of the new arterial road & decide to publicly oppose it if it is indeed as environmentally destructive as it seems to be.  I say ‘seems’ because I haven’t looked into the literature as yet.

We cannot keep building cities for cars instead of people.  Four vulnerable assets; the Cooks River, Tempe Reserve, the many old park trees & the Tempe Wetlands need to be fought for & protected by both Marrickville Council & the community if this project negatively impacts on these.  One visit to these areas will show you just how much work Marrickville Council & community groups have put into improving all these sites over the years.  I think this is a worthwhile event to attend & find out what we need to know to make an informed decision.  It is also good to support a community group who is working to save quite significant assets for our benefit & for future generations.  J

There is quite a bit of tree/nature news happening now. The Inner West Courier reported that 3 residents of High Street Strathfield set up camp on the nature strip to peacefully protest Strathfield Council’s order for the nature strip to be destroyed for a temporary pedestrian crossing.  The residents’ protest was successful in that the work has been postponed. You can read the article by clicking on the following link – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-protest-saves-path/

The Cumberland Courier wrote an article this week saying Baulkham Hills residents are furious at Integral Energy for the way their contractors pruned street trees recently.

The local politician, Castle Hill State Liberal MP Michael Richardson has taken a stand calling on the State Government to step in to stop the “butchering.”  Reading this made me hoot with joy.  Finally, a politician has stepped up & challenged the ‘never to be questioned’ power of these companies.

This tree was pruned a long time ago, certainly more than 12 months & it only has small patches of regrowth

Intergal Energy’s letter in reply to Mr Richardson said “While trimming can look severe at first, trees regrow at a normal rate & training them away from power-lines avoids the need to remove them entirely in the future.”  I dispute this having witnessed energy Australia contractors pruning the thin hanging branches of Bottlebrush trees closer to the ground than the wires.  It was entirely unnecessary.

In my opinion they ruined the street trees in my area in 2000 & came & did a much harder prune late 2009.  Many of the trees are hardly worth keeping after this last visit.  Marrickville Council knows this because they have removed a whole street of trees after they have been pruned for power-lines.  It’s a vicious cycle & one I would like to see stopped.  See the Shame Page 1 & 2 on this site for examples.

For the record, I know that trees need to be pruned to prevent blackouts/fire caused by damage to the cables by branches moving in the wind during storms.  However, I strongly believe the energy companies can do much better with their pruning & I am not alone in this.

They can also make AB Cabling cheaper so the councils can afford to use it.  In the long run, it will save significant amounts of money for the energy companies who must pay out millions each year to pay contractors to prune street trees.

You can read the full article by clicking on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-fury-at-tree-butchering-in-hills/

Marrickville Ave Marrickville - shocking

In America they are having a similar argument about their energy supplier ComEd’s treatment of street & public trees.  It is of such concern to the community that ways to manage the problem is the subject of debate in a public forum between 4 State Senators who are candidates for the DuPage County Board Chairman’s seat, a necessary step before going to State Primary elections.  Serious stuff.  All 4 senators want state legislation to bring in measures of control.

“The current state statute is insufficient to deal with this perpetual problem,” Olson (one of the State Senators) said. “I have joined the chairman of the (county board’s) environmental committee in proposing & supporting legislation that would require ComEd to replace high-growing trees they cut down or disfigure under their transmission lines with lower-growing native species.”

Senator Cronin said, “Utilities are subject to specific tree-care standards & the county must ensure that ComEd is meeting those expectations.”

Senator Pankau wants to initiate a program requiring contractors to undergo certified training by the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, which I guess is the equivalent of our Botanical gardens.

I find it astounding that American’s love their public trees so much, they become a voting issue & politicians have to stand up for what they believe about trees in a public forum & that sufficient numbers of people will attend.

You can read the full article at the following link – http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=349705

There is much more tree news.  To keep this post to a decent size I will post the rest soon.

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