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Yesterday Marrickville Council posted a Notice of Removal for a Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipiferum) in Enmore Park.  As usual, the Council web-link provided for further information did not work at the time of writing.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • Inappropriate species for location.
  • Does not conform to landscape design.

Pardon?

They say they will replace the tree with a Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa), but as usual, don’t say when they will do this.

Great – a Fig, but to chop down a healthy tree in a park where there is loads of empty space just because it doesn’t fit into their design?

Council says this tree is an ‘inappropriate species for location.’ Why did Council plant a Tulip tree in Enmore Park in the first place if they consider the tree an inappropriate species?   Why is a Tulip tree an inappropriate species? Why is it okay for Tulip trees to be planted as street trees less than 1km away, yet be ‘inappropriate’ for Enmore Park? How many years has the tree been there?  Why does it bother Council now?  I cannot come up with any ideas why a gorgeous & not at all common Tulip tree would be inappropriate for a large park.  Is it like kitchen & bathroom designs that change with the fashion?

The Tulip tree is about 5-6 metres tall & situated close to a row of palms that used to delineate 2 areas of lawn. Now one side is lawn, the other is the concrete walkway surrounding the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre. 3 palms away, there is another tree close to the palms.  So, I suspect they will soon think this is also unsuitable and will have to go.

Council says the tree “does not conform to landscape design.”  I agree.  However, the palm trees have been there for a very long time & someone in Council planted these 2 trees directly next to this row of palms a number of years ago.  Even before the building of the pool, the placement of these 2 trees was an odd choice.  Not so odd though, that the tree should be chopped down.

Another tree planted close to the row of palms

Someone suggested to me that the 2 trees were part of a row of trees intended to be planted next to the palms, but that Council didn’t complete this plan.  I must say this makes sense as to why these trees find themselves near the row palms.

I don’t believe this tree should be axed.  It is healthy, it shouldn’t lose its life simply for visual conformity & it is beneficial in carbon sequestration & cleaning the air.  That it is just only one tree in a park & is therefore expendable is not a convincing argument for me. Enmore Park has already lost 51 trees to make room for the pool, plus a large Fig tree was removed in 2010.

To be fair to Council, Tulip trees have a symmetrical & pyramidal growth habit & once mature, can have a 12-metre canopy & reach a height of 24-metres. If it does grow like this, it will eventually overtake the palm.  Council could choose to transplant this tree a few metres away.  These trees cope with transplanting as long as water is kept up them while they are settling in.  Enmore Park is a boggy park after rain. Tulip trees love these conditions, which is probably why this species was chosen in the first place.  The tree is small enough not to make transplanting an impossible job. Springtime is recommended for transplanting these trees to prevent stress & increase the chances of survival.

Council say they will replace the tree with a Port Jackson Fig. Well I would be surprised if they are planning to plant it where the Tulip tree is currently located.  If they do, they will only be recreating the same problem. Enmore Park could easily cope with another Fig as well as keeping the Tulip tree by moving it to another location.

I will be putting in a submission regarding this tree & requesting that it should not be chopped down, but just transplanted a few metres away.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd June 2011.  Marrickville Council’s email address for submissions is – council@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

The Tulip tree is the one second from the right & has lost most of its leaves for winter. Therefore, it is not its most attractive time

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Ned Barnard was writing a book about the trees of Central Park.  He asked his friend Ken to make a map of the park.  This 4.40-minute YouTube video will make you marvel at a park like this in one of the densest cities in the world.  The woodland trails are 804.6 kms (500 miles) alone.  There are 843 acres of trees, paths, trails, ponds & exceptional beauty.  The forefathers of New York City certainly got this right.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ROUJIxvCpYQ#

 

Sydenham Green before the upgrade- the placement of the benches was interesting

The upgrade of the front section of Sydenham Green along Unwins Bridge Road in Tempe was completed a couple of weeks ago.  This park has always puzzled me in that there are relatively few trees for the space. Sydenham Green seems to have been designed with a Placemaking idea behind it as there is an obviously designated meeting place in the centre of the park. This section is quite theatrical with an amphitheatre & a great arch. There is a giant teapot, kettle & a giant lounge that offers stepped seating.  I guess these represent home & pay tribute to the homes that were once here before they were demolished due to extreme noise from planes taking off & landing.  Much of the artwork is painted & fired tiles made by local school children & they are great, well worth a look.  I have been there a number of times & it is always empty.  Maybe because it is hot.

The entrance to Sydenham Green opposite the St Peters-Sydenham Library is the section of the park that was most puzzling to me.  It was, until recently, a large area of grass, a couple of Gum trees & a large section of terracotta coloured pavers & grass that had benches placed in & around it.  It puzzled me because I couldn’t work out why the seats had been placed in that particular way & why this layout was deemed inviting.

I thought that the best things about this section of the park was a row of Callistemon that lined the front edge of the park.  I also quite like the sculpture that tells of the history of Sydenham Green & I love that it has a natural birdbath carved into the sandstone.

Today we went to have a look at the finished upgrade.  Hmmmm.  We did not think it good-looking, but this is only a matter of personal taste.  Maybe plenty of other people will think it looks good.

The problem I have is that Marrickville Council removed the permeable hard & soft surfaces & replaced them with hard, impermeable surfaces – concrete & black bitumen.  This will make the area hotter than before & ensure that the stormwater runs off instead of the rain soaking into the ground as it did previously.

Council has also removed the row of bird-feeding Callistemon replacing them with grasses, some other small growing plants & 2 Crepe myrtle trees, none of which provide food for birds.

Should we care about this?  I believe we should.  So many food sources for urban wildlife have been removed over decades due to urbanisation.  Current garden trends are removing even more.  I believe that it is incumbent on Councils to ensure that they plant sufficient food sources for urban wildlife all over the place; in car parks, as street trees & especially in parks.  If there are insufficient food sources our urban wildlife will slowly disappear. Most of them just can’t move to another area.  Plant a couple of Grevilleas or Red Flowering Gums & watch the increase of birds. They arrive in large numbers. It’s a happy sound.

An ornamental wall has been built at the front with the name of the park in silver letters.  Clear, visible letters is great.  The benches are back in a new configuration & now you have to choice of facing the grass or the bitumen.

8 Crepe myrtle & 8 Lilly pilly trees have been planted.  2 Lilly pillys have already died.  The trees were not planted near the benches, nor are they of a species that will create shade so the place will remain hot. Time will tell whether it remains empty.

The 2 Prunus trees on the footpath have either been replaced or have come back to life after they were vandalised.

The design layout is an improvement of what was previously there, but the choice of both ground surface materials & tree species fail to meet the needs of this era of climate change.  I am confident in saying this because all recent literature about urban landscaping & placemaking speaks about such simple things as using albedo surfaces & planting sufficient shade-producing trees to make a cool environment that is not only useable for the community, but actually encourages them to go there.

See what you think. I have put up a 1.47 minute YouTube video of the works at Sydenham Green here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkcto3Cdsvs

Sydenham Green after the upgrade

 

I had been meaning to get down to Mahoney Reserve on the corner of Illawarra & Wharf Roads Marrickville South since I saw ghostly skeletons of Poplar trees in the distance a

Showing the dead Poplars & giving an idea of their height

couple of weeks ago.  Once we got down to have a look it became apparent that all the Poplars are dying. 6 Poplars are stone dead. I was told they died last year. They stand like mutilated sentinels, a ghostly grey.

This is an avenue of 21 Poplars planted around 40-years ago. As a guess, each tree would be about 22-26 metres tall. These are substantial trees in Marrickville LGA as there are not many of this height & size. They are also landmarks as they are visible from many areas on both sides of the river.

In my amateur assessment, the trees have been killed by boring insects as there is evidence of borer holes all through these trees.  Only the 3 Poplars situated along Illawarra Road appear to be savable.  They seem to be in reasonable condition with only small amounts of dieback. They too have evidence of boring insects, but like the Poplar further along the Cooks River, intervention by chopping back the offending branches may just be what will allow them to survive if the borers have not yet reached the trunk. (See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/can-this-poplar-be-saved/ )

TreeHelp.com http://www.treehelp.com/trees/trees-insects.asp says the following –  “Boring insects are often the most harmful to trees & if left untreated can cause death. Boring, or tunneling, insects cause damage by boring into the stem, roots, or twigs of a tree. Some lay eggs which then hatch & the larvae burrow more deeply into the wood blocking off the water-conducting tissues of the tree.  Boring insects generally feed on the vascular tissues of the tree. If the infestation is serious, the upper leaves are starved of nutrients & moisture & the tree can die. Signs of borer infestation include entry/exit holes in the bark, small mounds of sawdust at the base & sections of the crown wilting & dying. It is important to regularly monitor a tree’s trunk for signs of boring insects to enable early identification & quick treatment. The key is to prevent infestation by keeping the tree as healthy as possible. This includes proper pruning, watering, mulching & fertilization. Pruning should be done in late fall or winter to avoid attracting insects to open wounds. Dead or fallen wood should be removed immediately. Once borers are present, control becomes extremely difficult, but steps should be taken to prevent further damage & to stop the spread to surrounding trees.”

A double row of Casuarinas dividing Mahoney Reserve & Marrickville Golf Course. These trees don't reach half the height of the Poplars

From my reading I understand that all trees should be checked periodically for signs of disease. Borer infestations can be diagnosed before dieback starts by seeing holes on the trunk or branches. At this state, systemic, chemicals can be put into the ground around the tree (maybe a problem with the Cooks River metres away, though they say the chemicals are non-toxic). Chemicals are also injected into the tree to kill off all boring insects at whatever stage of development they are at.  There is also a technique of literally skewering the insect to death.  Then the tree is fertilized to help fend off the stress it has been under.  If the tree is severely infected, it needs to be destroyed on site to prevent taking the insects to another location. The trunk & roots need to be removed from the soil as well & the soil treated before any new trees can be planted.

One by one we looked at the trees along the Wharf Road side of Mahoney Reserve. It was difficult to find a tree that wasn’t showing borer holes & rot.  Many had ant infestations as well.

The trees of Mahoney Reserve are very sick. Dieback takes a while to manifest, sometimes up to 5 years. My limited knowledge tells me that planting new trees will just provide further resources for the boring insects that are in control of this area unless the infestation is removed.

The Poplars especially, with their 2-3 metre girth are substantial carbon sequesters.  To have lost 6 & have the rest at serious risk of being chopped down as well is devastating on a number of levels.  Big canopy trees is what the park needs to replace the trees that have died & any others that will be lost.

We saw boring damage on about 70 trees in the one park & there are probably more. Just leaving the problem play itself out is not a solution. This park needs a comprehensive management plan to ensure what trees can be saved are saved & a replacement program be implemented to plant trees that will produce substantive trunks & shade. Shaded avenues along the parks & the river walks will be more & more essential as the sun is getting hotter & hotter.

I put up a 2 minute YouTube of Mahoney Reserve showing the trees – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGlpS_YcRLY&feature=BF&list=ULPOgkK3s0Qo0&index=6

The avenue of dead & dying Poplars are on the left to centre with Casuarinas on the right

Marrickville Council says it needs to remove 7 trees in both the eastern & western ends of Kendrick Park Tempe to facilitate the construction of a new section of cycleway.”

The trees to be removed are –

  • 1 Coastal Myall – Acacia binervia
  • 6 Swamp She Oak – Casuarina glauca

The three marked Casuarinas

It was hard to find which trees were due to be removed though 3 quite old & haggard Casuarinas have a pink dot spot spray painted on their trunk. I’m taking a guess that these are 3 of the trees.  As for the other 3 Casuarinas it is anyone’s guess & I could not find the Coastal Myall.

Council say they will replace the trees with “locally endemic Cook’s River Valley tree species,” but don’t say when they will do this.  Locally endemic Cook’s River Valley tree species probably means more Casuarinas, which in my opinion is a pity. A few Casuarinas is okay, but these are definitely the predominant species of tree planted along the banks on Marrickville Council’s side of the Cooks River.

The Casuarina glauca is considered a weed in Florida because this tree sends up suckers & before you know it, there are more of them.  They grow to about 15 metres, are salt tolerant, nitrogen fixing, like swampy or sandy conditions & because of their lateral roots, are good at stabilizing the ground & preventing erosion. They produce hundreds of small cones & tons of branchlets leaf litter that effectively prevent anything other than other Casuarinas growing underneath the tree. Glossy Black-Cockatoo & Gang Gang Cockatoos eat the cones while they are soft, but leave the hard ones. If you ever see either of these birds in this area I would love to know about it.  I doubt that they provide food for birds in this area. I have seen a family of Cormorants sitting on 2 Casuarina branches that unusually hung over the Cooks River.

Casuarinas are described as ‘love them or loathe them’ trees & are recommended for the lazy gardener.  This had me shaking my head because I can say that having lived with 5 of these trees for a period of 4 years, all I experienced was tons of hard work cleaning up the profuse litter from the courtyard every week. Leave the job for a month & it became a couple of hours work necessitating a trip to the tip.  I guess they fit the bill if the lazy gardener included planting the trees in parks & leaving them alone.

I freely admit to being of the ‘loathe them’ camp.  Personally I wish Council would plant a few more varieties of tall Australian native trees like that which has been happening on the other side of the river.  Canterbury Council has planted well over 100 Red Flowering Gums as well as many other species of Eucalypts. There are no powerlines or other restrictions so why not go the whole hog & plant a few Sydney Blue Gums, other Eucalypts (Corymbia) & some Angophoras?  These trees are beautiful, provide food & habitat for birds as well as provide plenty of shade where one can sit under.  A Casuarina is not a tree I want to sit under, nor have I seen others do this.  There is too much chance of being bitten by some insect or spider hiding amidst the debris Casuarinas drop.

While it does not seem Council is seeking submissions, they do say if we want further information or if we wish to make comment regarding these works we can contact Council’s Tree Management Officer on 9335-2242 or send an email to council@marrickville.nsw.gov.au by Monday 24th January 2011.

As it is now

The Major Projects Steering Committee Meeting meets tonight 5th May 2010.

Regarding the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre (the new 50 metre pool in Enmore Park) the following is an extract from the committee’s paper.

“51 trees will be removed.  This number includes trees exempt from the Tree Preservation Order & various small & previously damaged & unsafe trees. As part of the new works including the new playground, 34 trees will be planted.  In addition 6,500 other small plants are to be included to be planted as part of the project in mass landscape beds surrounding the new centre.  The landscape plan includes for the planting of a substantial tree to the WSW of the café corner along with the relocation of a further palm tree to reinforce the row of palms along the main pathway.  A project arborist is attending the site on a regular basis to inspect all trees, including the relocated palms.”

I have been told 31 of the trees have already been removed.

These are the only 2 photos I have which show the perimeter fence around the pool complex. (the blue bit in the distance) The playground is in the right photo on the left. I won't know whether which trees have been removed until I visit

I received the following e-mail last night:

We have been following your site for a few months.  You are always banging on about birds & Bandicoots.  What about us?  We need trees too!  More trees for Marrickville LGA!

Dogs have needs as well. More trees for Marrickville LGA!

Cooks River at dusk - the black marks in the sky are the bats leaving their home in Wolli Creek - I am told it is a spectacular sight to see them leave from the vantage point of just outside the park

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Trust have been concerned about a large colony of bats who have made their home in the Gardens for years.  The bats are grey-headed flying foxes, which are listed as a threatened species in Australia.  The Trust say the bats are destroying trees in ‘Palm Grove’ & it’s true, they are denuding the trees.

Federal MP Peter Garrett is about to decide whether to allow the Trust to get rid of the bats (they say humanely) by causing a noise, which the bats are unable to tolerate, hoping they will move & find another home.  There are many problems with this.

  • They intend to do this in the breeding season when many of the mothers are pregnant.  The dispersal techniques of noise, harassment & sleep deprivation result in many miscarriages.
  • The bats become disorientated & exhausted (as we all would) during this intervention.  As a result there are many injuries.
  • It’s cruel & at the risk of sounding like a zealot, all about man’s domination over animals.  The gardens are 75 acres in size.  Yes, they are destroying a certain amount of trees on the south side of the gardens, but there are a lot of other trees & the grove can be replaced.
  • The Trust says the bats will find another home, but on the small chance they do, this itself will likely result in problems.  They may try to join other colonies, which will make other areas overburdened with bats.
  • They may stay in the gardens moving to other trees they have so far left alone.
  • They are disliked in residential areas for good reasons.  If they relocate to these areas, it is likely residents will campaign to get rid of them or take the matter into their own hands.  It’s moving a ‘problem’ to another area & another community.

I was at the NSW Art Gallery at dusk last week. It is a truly beautiful & special sight to watch the bats quietly fly over the Domain as they go off to search for food during the night.  It is also a very good thing for tourism.  Many countries do not have such nature in the CBD.  The tourists & I stood for a long time watching them & we all loved the sight.  The Trust & the City of Sydney should be promoting the bats as a tourism highlight.

I trust WIRES &, when they say there will be a problem with the dispersal intervention, I believe it.  There are a lot of other organisations who joined with WIRES opposing the bat dispersion. If there wasn’t a significant & valid reason, I do not think these organisations would take on the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust.

I found this birds nest in Dulwich Hill last week - they used all sorts of material to make it - they even have 3 little doonas for 3 little eggs

Personally I think we humans are constantly taking away habitat from wildlife.  We control ‘our’ environment at the cost of other living beings & many times we do this as our ‘given right.’

The bats are usually nomadic, seeking warm places.  Experts believe the Heat Island Effect caused by our love & prolific use of cement & paved surfaces has improved conditions for the bats in Sydney so they have stayed.  We have also had a long & protracted drought so why would the bats move on as they usually do when they know there is limited food & water outside the city?  They stay where there is food & water & once the drought is well & truly over, some of them may return to their nomadic lifestyle.  We just need to be patient.

I think the bats should be allowed to stay.  Although there are negatives, there are just as many positives, not the least these bats being a threatened species.  It is not as simple as the Trust makes out.  Trees benefit humans in many ways, but they are the homes for birds & animals.  Sometimes we have to give over areas & tree assets to them even if only out of fairness & compassion.

You can read a media release from the Humane Society, WIRES, Bat Advocacy & WWF written yesterday –  Eviction_of_Flying_Foxes

If you want to join the voices supporting the bats’ right to remain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, you can write to Peter Garrett MP via his online contact page – http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memfeedback.asp?id=HV4 or via his e-mail – mailto:Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au

You can read about them on the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust web-site – http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/royal_botanic_gardens/garden_features/wildlife/flying-foxes Today’s news about the bats on ABC News – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/24/2854578.htm?section=justin

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

I was invited by Marrickville Greens to go to watch the magnificent Lemon Scented Gum street tree in Cambridge Street Stanmore being chopped down by Marrickville Council.  For various reasons I declined, but I know I did not want this image imprinted on my memory.  I have come to love this tree & I am distressed about its loss.  To me, it was no ordinary street tree.

Marrickville LGA has some gorgeous trees, mostly in parks, though there are also good ones that are street trees.  However, we have thousands of butchered, stumpy & not good-looking street trees all over the LGA & it is noticeable if you look.

I think many of us have become desensitised to the ugliness of our street trees because their disintegration happens over time & we just get used to seeing them in this poor condition.  Leave the LGA & you immediately notice the differences.

This magnificent street tree is gone

The Lemon Scented Gum in Cambridge Street Stanmore was one of the better-looking street trees in the whole LGA & this is not an exaggeration.  Do I think this because I like Gums?  Yes & no.  I do like Gum trees, but I also like most other trees.  I am an all-round tree lover though I admit to preferring tall stature trees & especially trees which flower & provide food for insects, birds & animals.

I think it is necessary in an urban environment to think about wildlife when choosing trees to plant.  I also think we have a duty to provide food for these creatures who are losing more & more food resources every year.  If you don’t believe me, put out a birdbath in a safe place in your garden & watch how long it takes for birds to arrive.  They are short of water as well.  When we built a fishpond, the rare frogs of the area arrived within 2 days & there wasn’t other ponds around.  Where did they come from, we wondered.  If you plant flowering trees & shrubs that feed birds, they will come in droves & the air will be filled with birdcalls.

So for a tree of this magnitude to be cut down seems ridiculous to me.  The tree provided refuge for both wildlife & humans because it was a flowering native tree & its canopy significantly cooled the air in the street.  This is not a feeling I am used to when I walk the streets of my local area.  Mostly I cannot walk during the day because the streets are so hot with the heat reflected by the road & concrete.  I believe that as temperatures rise due to global warming, the heat island effect is going to get worse & we are going to bake.  City of Sydney Council recognises this & intends to plant 10,000 more trees in the CBD this year to counteract the heat.

I am aware the residents who wanted the tree removed said it was causing cracking to their house & Council felt hamstrung because of the potential of litigation.  However, because we do not have a Significant Tree Register, our public trees are vulnerable.  Cracking to houses can always be repaired & it is something we should expect when we live in 100 year old houses, which are built on clay soils & with poor quality mortar.  In fact, even renovated houses in the Inner West need regular work as they are always deteriorating.  It comes with the territory. That’s why many people prefer to live in modern units or project homes that are built on cement slabs.  As a norm, tree roots are not strong enough to lift a concrete slab.

Ordinary street in Chatswood with multiple large street trees- a very different outlook to our LGA

When we respect trees & fully appreciate their positive impact on our lives &  vital role in our civilization’s existence, if atmospheric levels of CO2 continue to rise as expected, then we will do everything we can to keep our mature trees that sequester large amounts of CO2.

The removal of this tree affects the whole community, not just the residents of Cambridge Street.  First is it one tree, then another tree & so on.  Before we know it, the whole streetscape is changed & not for the better.  It took 40 years for that tree to grow a 2.5 metre girth & it had at least another 60 years of life left in it.  Eucalypts often live 100 years or more.  All it took was 4 ½ hours for it to be gone.

The Marrickville Greens tried to get a stay of execution to try other methods to repair the cracking & fix the problem at ground level. The Labor & Independent Councillors had to power to grant this so that amelioration could be tried to give the tree a chance to be saved.  I would have conceded defeat if all avenues had been tried & agreed the tree needed be removed, but these avenues weren’t given a chance.   I am sure the Greens feel the same as I do.  This tree was also worth a lot of money to the community & especially to Cambridge Street.  Better to sell a house before a tree is cut down than after.

Our tree assets get voted out because of concrete, their particular species, because they are old, because, because, because.  I have not yet seen tree saving strategies voted in during council meetings, only the opposite.  Trees are seen as a nuisance & a liability.  The reality is: not having trees is a liability.

I will work with Labor & the Independents as well as the Greens if they are pro-trees & the greening of Marrickville LGA.  However, since I have started, I have noticed that support for my vision comes from the Greens & not from Labor or the Independents.  To be fair, Labor did reverse their decision over the Mackey Park Figs, but not until after a community protest of 300 people & an even larger petition.

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 counsellors.  Is it a pattern? Saving Our Trees hasn’t been alive long enough to be able to answer this question.

Frankly I was shocked when I read on the Greens website that:  Independent Councillor Dimitrios Thanos recently emailed Councillors & staff saying: “I’ll grab my chainsaw & meet the staff down there on the appointed day.” I just know he & I are not on the same page when it comes to trees.

Getting back to my intro, I didn’t want to go & watch the ‘Elle McPherson of trees’ be chopped down, but the Marrickville Greens did witness this.  You can read their posts about this tree –http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/risk-averse-council-condemns-stanmore’s-biggest-eucalypt-to-the-chainsaw/ & you can also view 2 photos taken today by the Greens at – http://yfrog.com/37y6 & http://yfrog.com/1ehcezj &

http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/stanmores-largest-gum-tree-turned-into-woodchip/

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