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Looking into Pioneers Memorial Park. The Bicentennial Rotunda is the steel structure in the background.

Looking into Pioneers Memorial Park. 

Mums with their babies sit in the shade of a mighty Hill's Fig tree.  There were so many lovely places to sit in the shade.

Mums with their babies gather in the shade of a mighty Hill’s Fig tree. There were so many lovely shady places to sit in this park.

The quick version:  Tree, trees, trees!  Many species of trees & lots of shade.  No need for shade cloth.  Lovely trees with side branches & canopies that cascade down to the ground.  Fabulous interesting playground.  Logs for seats.  Concrete as well as natural pathways.  Non-fenced off-leash area for dogs.  No graffiti or litter anywhere.  Peace & quiet.  No cars in the park.  Natural leaf litter as well as woodchip.  Old rose garden.  Well-maintained WW1 War Memorial with statue.  Huge rotunda.  Children’s maze.  This is an excellent park to kick a ball, run your dog or go for peace & quiet & get into nature.  5kms from Sydney CBD & just next door to Marrickville LGA.

The longer version:  A friend had been trying to get me to visit this park for a while saying that I would love it & that it would probably surprise me.  She was correct on both accounts.

This beautiful 3-hectare park is located at Norton Street Leichhardt.  From 1868 to 1912 it functioned as the Old Balmain Cemetery.  A plaque on site said that there were 10,608 burials of 24 different religious denominations.  In 1941 the cemetery was declared a park & renamed Pioneers Memorial Park.  Leichhardt Council describes this park as ‘an urban jewel’ & they are not exaggerating.

Even though we went on a week day, there were plenty of people – groups, couples & people on their own.

The sandstone entrance gate

The sandstone entrance gate

The park itself has a number of different roles, as well as features.  It has a very old & lovely rose garden marking that it once was a cemetery.  The grand old sandstone entrance gate has been retained. It leads up to a well-kept war memorial of the First World War of 1914-1919.   On either side of the war memorial is a row of cypress pines.

The memorial itself is in excellent condition. The gold lettering of the names of the fallen soldiers is clear & the statue of a woman, who I think symbolizes Victory, stands on top.  There is no graffiti or litter & the surrounding landscaping is beautiful. This memorial would give peace for some people.

The WW1 War Memorial

The WW1 War Memorial

The park itself is divided into a number of rooms.  At the street frontage there are beautiful large old trees & plenty of shade.  The setup allows one to quickly pop into the park, sit in the shade of a tree & have lunch for example.  There is what appears to be appears to be a fairly new wheelchair ramp into the park as well making it accessible to everyone.

Further in, but still close to the road, is a four-sided Lilly pilly hedge offering a quiet place to sit mostly unseen by others.  On either side of the war memorial is a substantial olive grove, which I imagine represents the Italian culture & community of Leichhardt.  In line with the war memorial, but further into the park, is the raised modern steel Bicentennial Rotunda. I remember this being built & can safely say the park has been greened up significantly since those days.

A little further in from the road is a fantastic children’s playground.  The equipment looked to me to be exciting & different.  There was a swing where a child could lie down in a bowl-shaped net with padded sides. It looks to be safe for children with physical disabilities.  I didn’t go close to the playground, but from where I stood I could see a walled area covered in painted tiles of what looked to be a large sandplay area.  The whole playground looked wonderful & it was being well used while we were there.

We came across two Council workers watering the plants & after a quick chat, found out that they look after this park 5-days per week.  I can tell you I was quite shocked.  They were very pleasant happy men who were obviously very proud of the park.

The Ibis are let be, but they, other birds & dogs have access to fresh water with water bowls & other containers under taps all over the park.  Birds of many different species were everywhere.  You could not see or hear the traffic from most areas of the park, so you were left with the sound of the breeze in the trees, the occasional sound of children laughing & birdsong.  It is a very peaceful park, which is quite amazing considering its central location.

Approximately one-third of the park is off-leash for dogs & the area is not fenced.  There are doggie-poo bag dispensers & bins in many places.  For the most part people respect this.  I did not see one bag of dog poo anywhere.  Litter was not an issue either.  I saw one discarded bottle – so different to the parks around where I live.

Some of the areas are used as sporting fields. All of these are surrounded by landscaped areas & groups of trees. This allows for these areas to be separated for both privacy & noise, but they also act as windbreaks

Moving from one section to another

Moving from one section to another

Leichhardt Council certainly doesn’t seem to have an issue with sightlines in Pioneers Memorial Park. For those who don’t know what sightlines are, as I didn’t until 2-3 years ago – sightlines are where all vegetation is either removed or kept very low to allow a clear sight across the park.  In Marrickville LGA this often means being able to see, hear & smell the traffic right across the park. Sightlines are created to deter criminal or unsavoury behaviour.   It may well achieve this, but the community loses out by having little or no respite from the outside world.  I think sightlines are overdone.

What impressed me most was the beauty & the peacefulness of Pioneers Memorial Park.  Here you can get away from the madding crowd & although the planes fly overhead, cars are not a feature.   Most importantly, you do feel you are getting away into nature.  This is something that I believe is extremely important if people are to get the most benefit from being in nature in an inner-city environment.  My friend even walked barefoot without getting injured by bindi-eyes or stepping in dog poo.

The trees were stunning & there were so many.  There were at least six Hill’s Figs with seating under them & lots & lots of Gum trees of various ages & heights.   There was a grove of around 100 Casuarinas.  There were shrubs wrapped along the fence line & a spotted Gum that would have had a girth of around 5-metres.  There were also Olive trees, Banksias, Grevillias, a variety of pine trees & many more.

The trees also had side branches.  This is a fixation of mine, as most of our trees have been formative pruned removing side branches, even trees in parks.  On top of this, the canopy of many trees in Pioneers Memorial Park cascaded to just above the ground or all the way to the ground.  The trees looked fantastic.  People can step out of the way if there is a branch of willowy leaves in front of them.  It is a park, not the footpath.

Almost every area of trees had an understory making it very hospitable & safe for birds & other urban wildlife.  Gymea lilies were used a lot as feature plants & many were in flower.  There were a couple of areas where native grasses were used, but they were certainly not the dominant ground cover.    Logs were scattered about offering a different kind of seating.

In amongst the trees was a children's playstation. This is a delightful place for a child to play.

In amongst the trees was a toddler’s playstation. This is a delightful shady place for a child to play.

Woodchip was used, but there were also many areas where natural leaf litter provided mulch.  There were many dirt  paths meandering through the planted areas so you would hear the crunch of leaves. There was even a toddler’s playstation inside a shady area of trees with leaf litter on the ground. I was very impressed with this as it introduces children to nature & a new toy is always fun.

There were concrete paths, but also plenty of natural paths were people have wandered through the undergrowth.  I suspect the Council keeps them looking like paths to encourage people to leave the concrete & wander through these areas.

There was also a maze of soft vines that grew into mounds. Little kids could go into the maze, chase each other around, yet still be able to see each other as it was only about 1-metre high before pruning.  The maze was in a very shady area as Gum trees were sprinkled all around like white sentinels.

I loved this park.  It had many really great qualities.  Leichhardt Council & the community should be proud of it.

The maze area in the shade of Gum trees

The maze area in the shade of Gum trees

Plenty of grassed areas as well as plenty of trees & landscaped areas.  The Bicentennial Rotunda is at the far left.

Plenty of grassed areas as well as plenty of trees & landscaped areas. The Bicentennial Rotunda is at the far left.

 

 

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There was some interesting news in both local papers this week.

  • Marrickville Council have designed a street bin that takes cigarette butts allowing disposal without setting the contents of the bin on fire.  60 of these street bins have been installed along Marrickville & Enmore Roads & King Street with more on the way.  This is excellent & should go a long way to preventing butts ending up in the Cooks River via stormwater drains.  http://www.torchpublishing.com.au/read/Valley_Times_2_February_2012/index.php
  • After complaints from residents in Lamb Street Lilyfield about street tree pruning for powerlines Leichhardt Council called on Ausgrid “to consult with them before undertaking any more work.”  Leichhardt Council thought the pruning of some street trees “excessive.”   From Ausgrid’s website – “Trimming is carried out by contractors who follow the Australian Standard AS4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees.  Ausgrid employs a horticulturist & an arborist to audit the work of our contractors.  Each contractor also employs a horticulturist & an arborist to monitor standards & ensure they are maintained.”
    http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/ausgrid-tree-pruning-raises-debate/

    This is one example of the many street trees in Hurlstone Park that were pruned for cables just before Christmas. It was quite a shock to see.

Marrickville Council intend to remove a Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata) from outside 8 Ross Street, Dulwich Hill.

Council gives the following reasons for removal:

  • “The subject tree has a repeat history of large branch failure & there remains the possibility that the tree may further shed branches in the future.
  • The subject tree in its current condition presents an unacceptable risk of harm or injury to persons & property.”

Council say they will replace this Spotted gum with another Spotted gum, but not when they will do this.    The weblink for further information did not work at the time of writing (error 404).

There is evidence of 5 branches coming off this tree.  The remaining parts of the branches are jagged & the tree looks injured.   I haven’t seen branch loss looking like this before, but this isn’t surprising.  The tree looks to be in good health. It’s one of 2 tall trees in the street & has a girth of around 1.8 – 2 metres.

I think there are a number of issues here.  My research came up with a report written in 2003 by Hornsby Council who refused an application to remove a 18-metre Spotted gum street tree that was dropping branches into the front garden of a property because the tree was healthy.  Hornsby Council refused to remove the tree even though they knew they could be liable, especially if property damage occurred in the near future.   See – http://www2.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/ebp/ebp2003.nsf/bb43e613b7cc52adca256cbc0011e27b/500e6046a9fef4f2ca256dd6008284e6?OpenDocument

This is the Spotted gum up for removal

What I did find out was that Spotted gums are self pruning (meaning they drop branches as a natural characteristic) & have lighter branches than other species of Corymbia.  They are often deemed as suitable for use as street trees & have a life expectancy over 40 years.  Now I love my Gums, but I would ask – why are they deemed suitable if they are known for dropping branches?  Marrickvlle Council is using a Spotted gum to replace this one once they chop it down.

The technical name is limb shear & the branches of this particular tree certainly looked sheared.  It looks like a rope has been slung over the branch & pulled until the branch tore away from the trunk.  Shear is a good description.

Apparently there are a number of causes of limb shear & no single cause. Limb shear can happen as part of the behaviour of certain species, including the Spotted gum & because of drought or compaction of the soil.  An arborist can check limbs regularly to look for obvious weakness showing in the branch & prune to prevent the limb falling.  Problem is Marrickville Council doesn’t prune street trees, they chop them down when branches fall.

Yesterday I learnt that Leichhardt Council checks every single one of their public trees every 2 years & prunes as needed.  Their Urban Forest Policy says the removal of a public tree is the last option.

Most of the Council’s around Sydney have thousands more Eucalypts & Corymbia’s as street trees than does Marrickville LGA.  A quick Google search choosing Councils at random, showed me that Ryde, Hornsby, Newcastle, Randwick & City of Sydney all prune street trees.  This was enough for me to show that pruning is considered a norm.

I would prefer that Parks & Gardens were given sufficient money in the budget to allow them to establish a regular tree maintenance program & prune street trees to bring Marrickville Council up to the standard of other Councils.  Perhaps then, many more trees could be caught before they become dangerous to allow the canopy to remain. The cycle of chopping a tree down once it has reached a good height means we will never really have tall trees or increase the canopy beyond small stature trees.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 27th May 2011.  I will not be putting in a submission.

Showing where 3 branches have broken off

This post is about Norton Street Leichhardt as part of a series about main shopping strips in other local government areas.  Norton Street is famous for being the undisputed Italian food heaven in Sydney.  Leichhardt Council has made the best of this reputation by implementing a number of placemaking initiatives to improve the streetscape to make the area look lovely – & it does.   Norton Street, especially the side west of Marion Street, has really changed over the last few years.

The power poles have been removed & now, overhead lights that match the historic nature of many of the buildings provide street lighting. This is terrific for the street trees as well as the streetscape because the street trees no longer need to undergo radical pruning every few years, allowing them to grow to their full beauty.

Leichhardt Council also kept the many large street trees that were growing when I lived here 20-years ago & they have planted more.  The effect is a green streetscape, which has been enhanced by layered green hedges with flowering gardenias in the centre on most street corners & scattered amongst the designated eating areas.

Quite a few spaces on the road have been claimed for street trees & the trees can't be damaged by parking cars

Street trees have also been planted in contained spaces on the side of the road taking a space of a car park, but to great affect. Permeable paving around the tree has been used in pedestrian areas.   It was nice to hear Lorikeets in the street trees.

They haven’t used many deciduous trees.  I like this because if deciduous trees are the main tree species along  a shopping strip,  the street is stripped green for 5-6 months of the year.  Bare trees are not particularly visible to me from a distance & they also have the weird psychological effect of making me notice the cold more.  I like my trees green & leafy.  I only like deciduous trees as street trees when there is more green than grey infrastructure.  In Canberra, landscaping is on many layers & when a tree loses its leaves during winter, the landscape shows through, not the walls of the buildings.  It’s just a personal preference.  There is another factor that is increasingly becoming an issue & that is the need for shade, even in autumn & winter.  The sun is getting hotter & we can still burn on a sunny day in winter.

One traffic lane on Norton Street has been reclaimed allowing the footpath on both sides to be widened. This allows for pedestrians to walk freely & for the creation of designated eating areas.  They have moved well past café tables juggling for space with pedestrians. The eating areas jut out into the road & are separated from the footpath traffic. The staff from the many restaurants are the only ones who need to juggle through any pedestrian traffic.

Planter boxes that are filled to bursting with colourful petunias, wooden barriers & green hedges & gardenias surround the eating areas.  I imagine the flowers will change seasonally.  The gardenias will scent the air during the summer months. Some were even flowering this Easter.

Long rows of planter boxes filled with petunias have been placed on the four corners of busy Marion & Norton Streets to great effect.  It’s a simple & reasonably cheap thing to do, yet introduced colour makes such a positive impact & takes your eye away from the traffic & directs it to flowers.

Overhead street lighting in Norton Street

On the lawn outside the Leichhardt Town Hall is a no dig vegetable patch showing the community what can be done in a small space.  A young Camphor laurel tree has been planted directly outside the Town Hall.  In the decades ahead this tree will frame the Town Hall & cascade over Norton Street with beautiful lime green leaves. I am very impressed that Leichhardt Council is still planting this species of tree. If Camphor laurel’s were the dangerous urban weeds that they are claimed to be, the Inner West would be a forest of these unwanted trees by now.  It hasn’t happened over 8 decades or more – yet. As such, these trees deserve a place as graceful elegant long-lived shade trees in our landscape & I am not surprised that one was chosen to be outside the historic Town Hall building.  They are also great at sequestrating CO2 as well, adding another significant benefit.

There is some street art. I noticed a peaceful mural on one large corner wall of a shop & a painted electricity box.  It was great one of a dog & a cat howling at the moon.   There is no graffiti or tags & there are plenty of bins at regular intervals so there is no litter either.

Overall the look is very inviting & people-friendly. I would call the work done on the lower end of Norton Street successful placemaking.  Traffic, pedestrians & people dining all fit comfortably into this space. The eating areas will easily adapt to any changes to the shops over the years.  There are also places to sit in the shade outside restaurant designated areas. Everywhere the eye looks you can see green trees & plants. This will have a positive impact on all the businesses along Norton Street as green areas with landscaping & many large trees equates into people spending 11% more because they tend to linger.

Marrickville Road Marrickville looks very different from both Glebe Point Road & Norton Street. I can see no other reason why it should, other than a policy decision by Marrickville Council.  There are a few street trees & garden beds on some of the corners & these look good except in winter when the shopping strip looks bare. There are also the 4 new Eucalyptus trees in Alex Trevellian Place.  They should make a nice statement when they mature. Other than this, in my opinion, the streetscape of Norton Street & Glebe Point Road are miles ahead.

I wrote about Glebe Point Road Glebe here –  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/glebe-point-road-glebe/

I made a short YouTube video of Norton Street – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03bUOvdDDjo

One of the areas for tables & chairs

The Year of the Forest includes urban forests.

Street trees in Surry Hills

I thought I’d put together a few examples of what other Councils & cities are doing regarding urban forests across the world. After a long period of searching the net using every key word I could think of I have come to the conclusion that, really, apart from a few places, nothing much is being done. Basically I read & reread the same motherhood statements that covered the issue in a bland matter-of-fact way with few quantifiable data of what they will do for 2011.

There are a number of voices out there, including the UN, pushing the benefits of trees & linking the presence of trees to human health, safety & quality of life. Trees are also strongly linked to managing & surviving climate change.  I guess as global warming gets more heavy-handed & punches us in the gut a few times, the urgency of planting more trees will hit home. We will see.

Below are a few statements that were part of my search for decent information & include those that said they intended to increase the urban forest & those that challenge some of the attitudes regarding the value & importance of public trees.

  • An urban forest is a relatively new & innovative approach to developing space for recreational purposes. The area is not a manicured or ornamental park, but an attempt to recreate an ecosystem that existed before European settlement & urbanisation. ~ City of Stonnington Council Victoria
  • The Urban Forests One Million Trees initiative aims to redress the loss of local native biodiversity across metropolitan Adelaide. Urban environments will be
  • There are not too many tall trees like these left on the skyline in many parts of Marrickville LGA

    significantly enhanced through increased habitat for our unique flora & fauna as well as improvements in air & water quality. Over a thousand hectares of suitable open space will be planted with a mixture of local trees, bushes & ground-covers creating new urban woodlands as well as helping to buffer, link & protect existing remnant bushland. ~ Hugh Kneebone Adelaide

  • Mature trees from over 300 different species fill Canberra. They significantly contribute to the aesthetics & have direct economic value & environmental benefits. The Australian National University has calculated this value at more than $15 million annually including $3.9m annually in energy reduction (less cooling & heating); $7.9m annually for pollution mitigation; & $3.5m annually for storm water mitigation. Trees have also contributed to the reduction in Canberra’s wind speeds by up to 50% from the once open & windy plains & provide a buffer for extreme temperatures. ~ Department of Territory & Municipal Services.

  • Brisbane city currently has an estimated 46% tree canopy cover in a 1,330 square kilometre region.  49% of Brisbane’s tree canopy cover is on public land. Brisbane City Council’s goals to increase our urban forest are to plant two million trees by 2012, achieve 40% native forest cover, ensure 50% tree shade cover for footpaths & bikeways by 2026 & transform major entry roads to the city into subtropical boulevards. ~ Brisbane City Council

  • Leichhardt’s Urban Forest contributing towards reducing the impacts of climate change & creating a sustainable environment through the protection, restoration &

    A Brushbox decorated for Christmas

    enhancement of our natural environment & native biodiversity including the urban landscape. Increase the health & extent of the canopy or vegetation cover of the Local Government Area to provide environmental & social benefits.  Address climate change locally by increasing the canopy & vegetation to capture carbon, provide shade to reduce ambient temperatures & reduce solar ultraviolet radiation exposure, reduce the impacts of storm water runoff & improve air quality.  Increase the habitat provided by the trees & vegetation in our streets, parks, private gardens & urban forest for the wildlife that now exists in an Inner City context. ~ Leichhardt Council

  • The City of Sydney’s street trees are one of our most important assets. They make our city beautiful, improve the air by removing carbon dioxide & returning oxygen, enhance property values & provide cooling shade.  The City has approximately 29,000 street trees, of over 120 differing species, that are both native and exotic species, evergreen & deciduous & range in age, size &  condition. ~ City of Sydney Council.

  • Victoria’s urban forest has significant economic value. Trees & shrubs help increase real estate values of homes and encourage customers to linger and shop at local businesses. Trees also reduce stormwater runoff and filter air and water pollutants. And, by shading roads and parking lots, well-placed trees increase the life of asphalt. Victoria’s trees also have a tremendous financial value. Each tree is estimated to be worth at least $2,000. This means the value of trees on City land is over $80 million, and much more when the value of trees on private lands is considered.

  • International cities that have recognised the importance of their urban forest are being rewarded with positive social & economic benefits.  These include less graffiti, enhanced feelings of security, less crime, healthier residents & more community involvement. ~ Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria

  • It is estimated that a tree with a 50-year life span provides nearly US$60,000 of benefit over its lifetime. Other benefits are less easily measured, but not less valuable. An urban forest provides beauty that inspires us, recreation that refreshes us & a contact with nature that lifts our spirits. The aesthetic & inspirational value of an urban forest is incalculable. ~ Burlington Vermont

  • The Millennium Forest was a huge programme of urban tree planting & the management of urban woodlands, creating a tremendous increase in the area of woodland in the area. The most ambitious urban forestry project ever undertaken in the UK.

  • Trees are major capital assets in cities across the United States. Just as streets, sidewalks, public buildings & recreational facilities are a part  of a community’s infrastructure, so are publicly owned trees. Trees — and, collectively, the urban forest — are important assets that require care & maintenance the same as other public property. Trees are on the job 24 hours every day working for all of us to improve our environment & quality of life. ~ Colorado Trees

  • In the not-too-distant future, parts of  Beijing city center will resemble the deep forest rather than a bustling metropolis, since an international architecture competition decided on a new environmentally-responsible streetscape.  Once this year’s Olympics come to an end, pavements will take on the form of a forest floor, walkways will be made from permeable materials, water is to be redirected by catchments at plaza level & from surrounding roof tops & solar panels will generate electricity for adjacent buildings & pedestrian areas. ~ Environmental Graffiti Magazine

I wish you all a happy New Year & hope that not only is 2011 a good year for you, but for trees as well. Thank you for your support. Much happiness. Jacqueline

Natures fireworks. Happy New Year!

Marrickville Council section of Parramatta Road on right. Leichhardt Council on left

An article was published in Reuters Health this week about research done by Dr Robert A Silverman of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.  Dr Silverman studied the link between particulate matter (pollution from vehicles & coal-fire power plants) & 8,000 heart attacks in New York City between 2002 & 2006.

“As the levels of particulate matter air pollution increased, more cardiac arrests occurred.”

“When they looked at fine particulate matter (particles 2.5 micrometer or less in size), they found that the risk of having a deadly cardiac arrest rose by between 4 & 10% with every 10-microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in fine particulates.” The current EPA standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter is grossly inadequate.

“Being indoors may offer only limited protection since small particles can penetrate into buildings and homes.”

As far as I can ascertain, there are only 3 things that stop particulate matter –

  • removing all vehicles from the roads,
  • closing down coal-fire power stations &
  • trees.

In 2003 there were 204 million vehicles on the road in the US.  This increased to 246 million vehicles on the road by January 2010.  In 2009, there were 50 million more vehicles on US roads than 6 years previously, though in 2010, it dropped to only 46 million more. In comparison, China is estimated to have in excess of 70 million vehicles on the road by the end of 2010 & expected to have over 200 million by 2020. Still they wont have caught up with the Jones’s.

Australian statistics were hard to get though I did find that 13.2 million vehicles, including motorcycles, were registered in Australia at 31 March 2003.  I would expect the numbers to be much higher for 2010.

Worldwide it is predicted there will be 1.2 billion vehicles on the road by 2015.

Only the cost of petrol or a severe shortage of oil is going to bring down vehicle use numbers.  You can see why most cities are trying to encourage public transport use, walking & cycling.

As for coal-fired power stations, Australia does not look like it is planning to reduce or stop them with up to 12 new coal-fired power stations planned across the country.  Unfortunately, in NSW they intend to mine for coal in the small bits of land that is Koala habitat.  If you are interested in this – https://www.savethekoala.com/ is a terrific resource & Deborah’s (Tabart) Diary gives regular updates about the Koala situation in Australia https://www.savethekoala.com/deborahtabartsdesk.html

Everyone loves this end of Crystal Street because of the large trees

Lastly, we come to trees. Trees remove up to 60% of street level particulate matter & dramatically improve air quality, which is why their presence is so important in high traffic areas.  The more trees in an area, the better the air quality. Trees also absorb other pollutants such as Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide & Sulfur Dioxide through their leaves.

A street tree removes 9 times the amount of air-born pollution from passing traffic than does a tree on a nearby property.  Street trees also improve the air that enters people’s homes, especially important as particulate matter penetrates buildings even when the windows are closed.

Large trees provide the most benefit as they provide greater absorption of particulate matter.  Small stature trees that are the perhaps the most common sized tree across Marrickville LGA have far less ability to do this.

The issue of pollution from vehicles is becoming an issue that is too hard to ignore. I am of the opinion that many of our roads in Marrickville LGA are quite dangerous in this regard due to the large volumes of traffic every day. Even small suburban streets that are more like lanes can have in excess of 7,000 vehicles/day.

If the Marrickville Metro expansion goes ahead there will be a potential loss of 142 trees & an extra 4 million shoppers a year. You can just imagine the air pollution around the surrounding residential streets & the planned plaza.

Parramatta Road & the Princes Highway are mostly treeless in the section that is under the governance of Marrickville Council.  It’s not just a matter of beautifying areas that are seriously lacking in aesthetic beauty, it is a matter of public health.

Parramatta Road under the governance of City of Sydney Council

This problem is not going to go away.   I think the NSW state government should allocate money to Marrickville Council to plant trees on these main roads. This is a major project requiring funds that Marrickville Council cannot afford. For this reason it is imperative that the state government fund it as a special environmental project.   It will save the government much greater amounts of money in the long run as people living in Marrickville LGA may just end up in the health-care system.

The population of Marrickville LGA is going to expand. We will all be living & shopping closer together & despite what the authorities say, I believe that the ‘culture of the car’ is not over by a long-shot.  If I am correct, then the issue of pollution-related illness from vehicles is going to spike in the Inner West & we are going to need many more trees to try & lessen the particulate matter that the residents & workers are breathing in.

On 29th June 2010 I posted ‘Living close to a main road is bad for your heath’ which discusses this issue further.

https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/living-close-to-a-main-road-is-bad-for-your-health/

To read the article with a link to the research paper – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100916/hl_nm/us_pollution_cardiac

On 26th June 2010 the Sydney Morning Herald published an article headlined: Why living near a road is bad for your health. A major study was done by the US Health Effects Institute who reviewed 700 worldwide health-pollution studies. They found:

  • traffic pollution within a 500-metre radius of a major thoroughfare was likely to exacerbate asthma in children
  • trigger new asthma cases across all ages
  • impair lung function in adults &
  • could cause cardiovascular illness & death

Because the results showed a clear health-risk for those living within 500 metres of a main road the National Environment Protection Council will consider the US study in a review of existing national air pollution regulations next month.

The National Environment Protection Council will be considering “whether a limit should be imposed on the concentration levels of particulate matter larger than 2.5 micrometres. Currently authorities need to adhere to limits set for particulate matter larger than 10 micrometres.”

That’s good, even if it is significantly overdue.  25 years ago a friend’s mother  told me not to rent a house in Leichhardt because it was a block away from Parramatta Road. She said the pollution will be dropping in your yard & you will be breathing it every day, especially when the wind blows towards the property. I took heed & let that house go even though the rent was low.

The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is already trying to find loopholes saying, “the industry supported moves to minimise pollution from cars, but added that air quality was good in Australia & warned against comparisons in US studies.” Except the 700 health-pollution studies were taken world-wide, not just in the US.

A random view of the Pacific Highway, Sydney. There are just as many trees along most of its length to Hornsby.

Recently I posted on the differences between Parramatta Road & the Pacific Highway.  They are both main roads, but the differences between the two are astounding, so much so, one could believe they are in different countries, not in the same city separated by a bridge.  The Pacific Highway has large trunk tall trees along its length. Tree canopies cascade over the road & no one is in fear even though the majority appears to me to be of the Eucalypt variety.

Parramatta Road however, has very few trees along the section managed by Marrickville & Leichhardt Councils & most of this road managed by other Councils are just as treeless.  The Princes Highway also is almost devoid of trees, even though this road appears to have more obvious spaces that would allow for planting.  I would think these Councils made a decision not to plant street trees along these main thoroughfares as these roads have remained in this state for decades. https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/north-shore-versus-inner-west-main-roads/

A random view of Parramatta Road at Stanmore.

Now it is not just a matter of unsightliness (which has its own recognized impact on mental & physical health), it has been recognized as a serious health matter for the thousands of people who live within 500 metres of main roads. The pollution from Parramatta Road & the Princes Highway must be at astounding levels.  I don’t know whether anyone has measured the pollution levels along these roads, but I doubt it will be too long before a study is done on this.

All the people who live within 500 metres of these roads are having their health compromised on a daily basis when all that needs to be done is plant decent sized street trees.

A tree with a 76 cm-diameter trunk removes 70 times more pollution per year than does a tree with a 7.5 cm trunk.  This is not a big tree. Double the trunk size & you will be removing a much greater amount of particulate matter & other pollutants.  The trees along the Pacific Highway are not small thin little things. They are big trunked robust growing trees with a significant canopy.

Trees are best known for their ability to sequester & store CO2, but they also absorb other pollutants such as Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide & Sulfur Dioxide through their leaves. They reduce air temperature ground-level ozone, which contributes to greenhouse gas creation & global warming. They also remove up to 60% of street level particulate matter such as dust, smoke, ash & the sooty bi-product from car & truck exhausts. The more trees planted, the less heat is generated & the more air pollution is removed.

Now that health effects from pollution from main roads is finally being taken seriously in Australia, it is time all main roads are made safer.  The cars & trucks are not going to go away for the foreseeable future & it doesn’t matter that engines of newer cars spew out lower levels of toxic material, it is still happening year in, year out & having a major effect on the health & lives of residents & people who work on or near main roads.  Perhaps the Health Department will help cover the cost of trees for planting. It’s a valid argument as trees will help stop thousands of people becoming ill & landing up at hospitals.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/why-living-near-a-road-is-bad-for-your-health-20100626-zavi.html

In a few short years the City of Sydney Council have made this run down area opposite the Fish Markets at Pyrmont unrecognizable. Young Hills Figs line the road on both sides softening buildings & other grey infrastructure. I think the landscaping looks fabulous & all those trees are great for the health of the people who live & work in this area. The beauty of the area will also give a favourable impression of Sydney to the many tourists who visit the markets.

A random view of the Pacific Highway, Sydney. There are just as many trees along most of its length to Hornsby.

In this post I am discussing 2 main roads: the Pacific Highway & Parramatta Road.  Travelling on either road is like travelling in different countries.  I cannot help but be astounded by the difference.

There is really no difference in the utility between the two roads except that Parramatta Road has many more shopping strips. However, I don’t see why this should mean there should be dearth of trees along its length.

The section of Parramatta Road that is under the control of Marrickville & Leichhardt Councils is ugly & getting visually worse as the years pass. The almost treeless state of Parramatta Road under the control of these 2 Councils seems to be a planning decision that was probably made decades ago & little has been done to change it.  Of course, there are other parts of this road that are just as treeless, but I am presently concerned with the section under the control of Marrickville, Leichhardt & City of Sydney Councils.

You can see the demarcation line between Marrickville & Leichhardt Councils & the City of Sydney Council by looking for the presence of street trees.  Once they start you are in City of Sydney territory. Once they stop you are in Marrickville & Leichhardt territory.

A random view of Parramatta Road at Stanmore. The Palm belongs to McDonalds car park.

Sydney City has planted quite a number of Eucalypts along their section of Parramatta Road & the trees are already looking good.  Sydney Council’s action proves it can be done.  Interestingly they planted Eucalypts, trees which some regard as dangerous because of falling branches.  Mind you, the branch die-off is a slow process & is clearly visible to the naked eye. I’d guess that Sydney City Council chose to plant Eucalypts because they grow tall & straight, grow rapidly & also flower providing food for the birds.  I’d also guess they made a decision to check on the trees occasionally & prune any branches that die off as part of general maintenance.

The Pacific Highway is filled with a variety of tall growing trees along its length, again proving that trees can exist on a main thoroughfare.  The trees don’t cause visibility problems for the traffic & they certainly help keep pedestrians safer. The trees also provide a pollution barrier to local housing by capturing particulate matter from the exhausts of passing traffic.  People who live within a block of the Pacific will have much cleaner air than those who live along or near Parramatta Road.

Parramatta Road opposite McDonalds at Stanmore looking towards the city.

It annoys me that Sydney’s Inner West of has to be exposed to more pollution, including visual pollution.   What does it take to cut out concrete & plant trees in available spaces along Parramatta Road? If Leichhardt & Marrickville Councils followed City of Sydney’s lead & planted 3-4 metre high saplings, the effect would be to instantly beautify & green the place. The trees would also have a much greater chance of survival, as they are not sitting ducks to be vandalized.  The new street trees recently planted along Glebe Point Road are proof of this.

I know money is an issue, but is losing 95% of saplings planted each season due to dying for lack of water, accidents, vandalism & the like a wise investment?  Wouldn’t it be better to plant bigger saplings which do cost more, but if watered, are more likely to survive?

Couldn’t the nearest business owner be given a complementary watering can & asked to water the tree?  Council could give them a big bright sticker to put in their window saying that they are caretakers of the street trees with much thanks from Council & the community.  Something like I am a volunteer caretaker of the street tree/s outside this business.

View of the Pacific Hwy just before Chatswood. Even in this area street trees are regularly spaced & of a tall growing species.

People notice these things.  Couldn’t community appreciation awards be given each year to those people & businesses that kept the street trees alive?  Surely this type of recognition would be good for their professional reputation because a large percentage of the community cares about green issues these days.

My dream is that once businesses catch on to the fact that shoppers spend around 11% more where there are shady trees, they will be beating down Council’s door demanding trees be planted.

Parramatta Road is also a main route south of Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Tourists travel along it daily & they will gain an impression of Sydney from this road.  As for the Princes Highway, straight out from the airport…….

The Princes is shamefully ugly.  The section from St Peters to the Cooks River always looked dreadful &, like Parramatta Road, is only getting worse.  Rockdale Council made their section look considerably better & more people-friendly by planting street trees every 3 metres along the whole length of the shopping strip.  Rockdale Council prunes & maintains these trees & although they are trees in cages, they look good.  It is the kind of care that is noticeable & makes people feel good, better connected in their communities & happier.

Trees have this extraordinary capacity to cause people to feel happier & peaceful. Research has been done regarding the effects of trees on peoples’ physical & mental health, so it is not just me banging on. 100 Tree Facts has more information regarding the benefits of trees.  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/100-tree-facts/

Marrickville Council won’t do anything about this unless we let them know that we want more trees in areas like Parramatta Road where there is tree-poverty.  We should not need to get used to ugliness when the solution is so simple & good for us & our children. If we work or live in areas with a predominance of grey infrastructure, it will have a negative impact on our health & our quality of life.  Besides, the UN says we should be planting 14 billion trees a year across the planet if we are going to have a chance of holding back the thrust towards climate change.

I nearly fell over when I saw this street in Newcastle

Festival of the Trees: When I think about festive trees I think of Christmas trees.  As it isn’t Christmas, the next tree I would call ‘festive’ is the Fig tree because it is so large, brimming with life & has the amazing ability to make me feel good.  Fig trees it is.

I love Fig trees, any type & the bigger the better. I love that they grow very tall & if left unpruned, can look like a mammoth upturned bowl of leaves.  The Hill’s Fig is my favourite.  I love the colour of its leaves & the way its branches get a whitish look & grow skyward.

Fig trees have featured in the greater part of my life.  They are all over Balmain were I spent a good chunk of my adult life & were in the grounds of most places I worked.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours sitting under Figs working, reading & chatting with friends.  I’ve had picnics & held parties under them.  I’ve even had a ‘first kiss’ underneath one.  Unfortunately I have never lived with a Fig tree on the property, though I have had friends who did.

I don’t live close to a Fig tree these days, but in the past I did.  I used to love listening to the bats eating the figs in summer.  In particularly hot summers, the fruit would ferment & the bats would become drunk & fight amongst themselves, which made it difficult to get to sleep at times.  After a couple of summers, the bats’ behaviour became white noise & I would have to specifically tune in to hear them.

I also like to watch bats as they fly around.  Just last month I spent half an hour watching the bats circle the Fig trees at a local park.  Quietly, the bats flew around & around.  After a while, I realised it was play.

Sometime I will get myself organised to go to the east entrance of Wolli Creek to watch the thousands of bats fly out for the night.  I am told it is quite a spectacle.  As previously mentioned, the bats in the city are also beautiful to watch & I think this is a terrific bonus to tourism for Sydney.

a gorgeous Fig in Sydney's Domain

I love the thick branches of Fig trees.  I particularly like the way part of their root system is above ground.  I like the roots that descend from their branches ready to support the branch as it gets bigger & heavier.  I like the knots that develop after a branch is cut off &, of course, I love their trunks.

I like how dark & cool it can be when there are many mature Figs planted close to each other.  Other than being in the water, there is nowhere cooler on a hot summer day.  I even like that it takes a while for the rain to get to you if you are taking refuge from the weather by standing under a Fig.

Sydney City Council puts Fig trees to great advantage by using their spectacular size & canopy to highlight many areas in the city & surrounding suburbs.  The fairy lights wound around the branches of the avenues of Figs in Hyde Park & make it a very romantic place after dark.  I think they add more fairy lights during the Festival of Sydney & this immediately creates a magical party feel.

Leichhardt Council has many old Fig trees throughout the LGA.  They have recently planted Fig trees every 4 metres along Lilyfield Road (which is at least a couple of kilometres long).  Apart from being a beautiful feature to the street-scape, they also hide the railway line.  Give the trees a few years to grow & this thoroughfare will look tremendous, with a huge canopy spilling over the road.  I predict property prices here will rise even more.

Marrickville Council has its own Figs including the oldest Fig in Sydney, though I’m not absolutely sure of this.  The St Stephen’s Fig was planted in 1848.  See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/st-stephens-fig/ It is most certainly the oldest in the LGA.

Part of a Fig tree in Enmore Park

Another very old Fig tree is on a private property in South Street Tempe.  This is also a very special tree. Then there is the ancient Morton Bay Fig in the IKEA development that the community is concerned about.  Council also planted a ring of Figs in Tempe Reserve that I hope I live for long enough to see mature.

I would think most Councils in Sydney have a significant quota of Fig trees as these were popular in the early 1900’s.  Now many are getting old (read senescent in ‘Arborist Speak’) & I fear they will be replaced with something like Tuckaroos.  If this happens, it will be such a loss.

If I were a Town Planner, I would insist that a Fig tree was planted at as many street corners as possible.  Imagine the dramatic entrance to ordinary suburban streets if this is done.  They do this in the Sunshine Coast to great effect.  Shopping strips are kept cool by these trees & people linger just to sit in their shade.  Because shoppers linger they spend more.  Research has shown 11% more.

I would also make Fig trees mandatory in public parks & in the grounds of hospitals, because a green outlook helps people feel emotionally good as well as increase the body’s healing ability.  I would have Fig trees in school grounds to protect the children from the sun & stimulate their imagination, because Figs are magical trees & easily the stuff of fairy tales & tropical islands.  Children, particularly girls, learn better when they can see trees during study.  Boys tend to be calmer in leafy surrounds.  The Fig tree is a giant in this regard.

To my mind the most amazing Fig in Australia is the ‘Curtain Fig’ in North Queensland. http://rainforest-australia.com/additional_Curtfig_photos.htm to see photos. To quote from the site:

  • It is one of the largest trees in north Queensland.
  • To count the tangled roots of the Curtain Fig would take a week.
  • Its curtain of aerial roots drops 15 metres (49 feet) to the ground.

How can I get Marrickville Council to plant one of these?

Fig trees in the Domain, outside the Art Gallery of NSW & in Hyde Park

The Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting & the Service Committee Meeting was held on 13th April.  I stayed only for the first meeting.  Councillor Thanos was absent.  The following is my take on the meeting & all mistake are mine.

1.       Local traffic planning – 2 issues were discussed in detail.  3 residents addressed Council regarding a development affecting Wilford Lane Newtown.   Link Construction Group Pty Ltd are constructing a building at 63 – 71 Enmore Road Newtown. The speakers complained about a heap of problems such as noise, dust, multiple incidents of damage to private property, potholes, rubbish, blocking of access & abuse from builders.

walk way in Tempe Reserve

A privacy wall that the DA said was to remain was knocked down & not replaced. Also contrary to the DA a green space was removed.  3 metres of land that was reclaimed by Marrickville Council was paved over, making it appear to be private rather than Council property.

The developer has been fined 10 times at a total of $30,000 & the residents say that Council could be booking the builders for violations on a daily basis.

Chair Clr Mary O’Sullivan said this was an acute & serious issue & all Councillors mirrored this sentiment.  They will meet asap with residents & bring back the results to the next Council meeting.

In the second issue a resident spoke passionately against allowing a request from the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) to Marrickville Council to give them a substantial parcel of Sydenham Green for The RTA to create another lane on Railway Road Sydenham heading towards the intersection of the Princes Hwy.  The RTA say the extra lane will make it easier for trucks & other vehicles to leave Railway Road & enter the Hwy.  Of course it will, but it will also encourage more trucks to use this route through Marrickville LGA.  The resident who spoke said as far as he was concerned, there was too much traffic & far too many trucks in this area.

The area of land the RTA have their eye on is from the Princes Hwy to the Coptic Church built in 1884.  13 healthy trees on park land would need to be chopped down.  Councillors voted to deny the request from the RTA.

2.         The Metropolitan Strategy Review 2036 Discussion Paper was briefly discussed.  This is a large document, which I have yet to read.

3.         Metropolitan Transport Plan – Most discussion concentrated on the Greenway.  Marrickville Council is concerned that 55% of the Plan’s budget is for road infrastructure.

Just about to burst into flower-Sydenham Green

Council thought it would be better if only 20% of the budget was directed towards roads with the remaining 80% directed to walking, cycling & public transport.

The Greens wanted an amendment that called on the state government to ‘guarantee’ a bike-path in the Greenway corridor.  The plans do not guarantee the bike path, as a lot depends on whether the light rail is 1 or 2 tracks.  Clr Wright did not want to impose conditions that may impact on how light rail works.  After debate that centred on using creative engineering around ‘pinch points’ the motion was amened to ‘consider inclusion’ & this was carried unanimously.

4.       Greenway Steering Committee.  The Mayor & Deputy Mayor will attend as representatives for a period of 2 years.

5.        LGA wide Parking Management Study – The issue was to employ a consultant for $300,000 to do a study on parking across the LGA.  The Greens were against both the study, saying that Council cannot afford $300,000.  They said there are already areas which the council knows needs work done & it would be better to start fixing the problems than paying that money for another study.  Clr Phillips suggested using Section 94 money to fix known problems.  A staff member advised that Council has already collected funds for parking including on-road parking.  As I understood it, the other Councillors although concerned at the amount of money, were interested in learning what the study came up with.

wetlands in Tempe Reserve

The outcome was the Councillors would be briefed on parking matters.  They would look at using Section 94 money as an alternative to a consultancy report & look at previous parking proposals that have been considered. The decision to employ a consultant has been deferred.

My fear is that Council will go they way of Leichhardt Council & bring in metered parking because it is a phenomenal revenue maker & could be attractive to a council which has severe financial problems.

6.         Re-establishing alcohol-free zones – Clr Tsardoulias put forward an amendment to remove Alex Trevallian Plaza (next to Post Office Café on Marrickville Road Marrickville) from the proposed list of alcohol free places because a Thai restaurant which fronts the plaza will have outdoor eating & wants to be BYO.  The General Manager said they would allow the restaurant to serve alcohol, so Councillor Tsardoulias withdrew his motion. The Greens concerned about the associated increase in police powers that result from such measures. Public consultation will be done regarding a number of locations along Marrickville Road shopping strip, side streets, Calvert Street car park, Sydenham Green & other locations in Sydenham.

There ends Report from the Gallery for another week.

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