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There are lots of significant trees in Camperdown Park.  You can just see on the bottom left an attractive wooden raised walkway installed by Marrickville Council to protect the roots and the ground around the tree from compaction.

I received the following email from a local resident, which was sent to Inner West Council.  The email is about adding a Significant Tree Register to the upcoming Tree DCP Amendment.

From Council’s ‘Your Say’Inner West’ –Inner West Council has resolved to undertake a review of the Development Control Plan (DCP) controls relating to trees. Council’s three tree DCPs (from the former Ashfield, Leichhardt and Leichhardt Councils) regulate the management of trees on private land and set out controls for determining tree pruning and removals via Permit Applications and Development Applications.”

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Re: Tree DCP Amendment

To establish a Significant Tree Register to protect and celebrate our local heritage.

What is a significant tree?

“Significant trees are integral components of an ever-changing landscape through their dynamic cycle of growth, maturity, ageing, senescence and renewal. 

They reflect the patterns and processes which have shaped our natural and urban environments over time. They may represent the last vestiges of former natural or cultural landscapes – symbols of our environmental, social and economic histories. Significant trees are inextricably linked to the quality and identity of ‘place’.

Significant trees retain exceptional values in terms of their contribution to our environment. They have a recognisable range of heritage values – natural, cultural, scientific, aesthetic, visual, social, spiritual and commemorative. These trees can be symbols of great spiritual power. They may have associations with individual people and communities or tell stories of other times and places, or the historic development of a place, trade routes, connections and communications.” ~ Noel Ruting, Director of LandArc

Many councils in Sydney have a Significant Tree Register.  Blacktown City Council, at its ordinary meeting of 30th January 1985, resolved that a Register of Significant Trees be established in recognition of the need to preserve and enhance the unique qualities of the Blacktown Local Government Area (LGA), particularly those contributing to its rich environmental heritage.

That’s right.  33 years ago! 

On the 22nd October 2009, the Saving Our Trees blog asked Marrickville Council to establish a Significant Tree Register.

https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/22nd-october-09-we-need-a-significant-tree-register/

 9 years on we are still waiting………..

Why are we still waiting? Why doesn’t the Inner West Council recognise the importance of trees with unique historic, cultural or botanical values by establishing a Significant Tree Register?

The City of Sydney Significant Tree Register has a total of 2,674 trees from 157 properties are listed in the latest Register of Significant Trees.   These trees were selected on the basis of their historical, cultural, social, ecological or outstanding visual and aesthetic appeal.

Can we please protect our significant trees before they are lost forever?

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ~ Warren Buffett

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

“The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!’ “. ~ John F. Kennedy

I also believe we have no time to lose, so can you please support a Significant Tree Register and add this to the Tree DCP Amendment.”

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I could not agree more.  With development happening at a rapid rate, we are losing many trees.  A few of these may be very important trees, but we, the community, do not know.   We need to protect significant trees.  The Inner West Council needs to take our urban forest seriously & not delay adding a Significant Tree Register (for both public & private trees) to this upcoming DCP Amendment.

It does not matter that significant trees are protected under current DCPs.  What matters is there is no public declaration of significant trees in the area.  It is about knowing about the existence of significant trees.

Why would other local councils have a Significant Tree Register if there was no reason for doing so?  Significant trees are an essential part of a localities history & the community want to know about them.

Other local councils are being much more proactive regarding protecting & celebrating important trees in their locality.   The Inner West Council needs to get with the times & take this small step forward. The community will respect them for doing this.

You can participate in community consultation on the Have Your Say website here –https://bit.ly/2MqzrQG

The deadline is this coming Friday 14thSeptember 2018.  Participating will not take long. 

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Princes Highway Tempe

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

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

In brief Marrickville Council intends the following –

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

    Caged trees

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

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

    Empty for years

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

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

Almost treeless skyline

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

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

Another treeless skyline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received an e-mail a couple of days ago from a resident nominating a tree for the Significant Tree Register suggestion list page on this site. We actually don’t have Significant Tree Register, nor do Marrickville Council seem keen to establish one.

Many Councils in Sydney have had one for years. Ryde, Sydney, North Sydney, Randwick, Waverly, Mosman, Hunters Hill, Canada Bay, Campbelltown, Drummoyne, Camden, Wollongong, Strathfield, Homebush, Blacktown & Bankstown all have a Significant Tree Register. This is an incomplete list because I don’t know the names of all the Councils in Sydney.

Randwick Council assesses trees using the following criteria. The tree does not have to fit all 8 criteria, 1 is enough.

  1. The tree’s historic &/or natural value
  2. The tree’s social, cultural & commemorative value
  3. Its visual & aesthetic value
  4. Whether the tree is particularly old or vulnerable
  5. Whether it is a rare species of tree
  6. If it has horticultural or genetic value
  7. Whether it has natural significance

Now on to the e-mail.  It is interesting reading & well worth sharing.

I’d like to nominate the Cooks Island Pine in Holt Crescent across from Ricardsons Lookout in the Warren for the significant tree register because of its visual & aesthetic qualities that adds dramatically to the landscape character of the Cooks River corridor & surrounding residential area specifically in the south Marrickville area.

This Cooks Island Pine in Marrickville South is visible for miles.

This mature tree creates a tall vertical architectural statement: it stands centrally on a prominent knoll along the Cooks River & can be seen from Illawarra Rd Bridge at Marrickville &, further east, from Unwins Bridge at Tempe.

The tree’s erect narrow habit & mature height, together with the surrounding mature vegetation of the knoll & river corridor, creates a distinctive, aesthetic feature that gives a sense of place for locals & visitors to our riverside environment. The visual catchment of this tree reaches the surrounds of the Warren (Sth Marrickville), Undercliffe, Earlwood & Tempe & possibly further. This prominent feature can also be easily spotted from the air when flying into Sydney.

Taken from a website – Araucaria columnaris – Cook Pine. Native to New Caledonia. Very similar too & often confused with Norfolk Island Pine when young. The habit is narrower & less feathery. Far more suitable in its early years for a town seaside garden. Nearly always leans slightly one way. The habit is narrower because the older branches are lost & new epicormic ones develop on the stem & replace them (this occurs in later life).  In its native habitat Araucaria columnaris shows maximum growth & abundance at the edge of the sea, forming dense populations on cliffs exposed to the prevailing winds. Can reach 60 metres in natural habit. 4.5 metres high x 2.5 wide in 10 years growing in our nursery/garden. Zone 9

I fully agree. This tree is special & should be on the Significant Tree Register if one is ever established.  Interesting that it is a place-maker even from a plane.

For the aficionados this tree has a number of names – Cook Island Pine, Cooks Island Pine & New Caledonian Pine & Pin Collannaire.

There are lots of really special trees in Marrickville LGA. Please help me learn of their existence by sending your suggestions.  You don’t need to do anything more than send an e-mail with the address of the tree.   See for more details – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/nominate-a-tree/

The University of Tasmania have just completed a 3 year nation-wide study as to why some people prefer a leafy front garden while others don’t. Interestingly, tertiary educated people preferred trees & the higher the  income, the more trees. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/03/2888948.htm

An unusual story of public tree removal in Newport:  The Cumberland Courier reported that an unspecified number of trees & scrub has been removed from Barenjoey Road by Pittwater Council. Residents requested the trees be removed saying the trees were not native & removing them would open up the area to ocean views from North Newport. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/trees-removed-barrenjoey-views-restored/

Pittwater Council’s Natural Environment Reference Group has submitted a plan to have all new DAs required to maintain wildlife corridors across their land. This would also include retaining dead trees, as these are especially important for providing homes for a variety of wildlife.  The new plan specifically targets the protection of Green-&-Gold Bell Frogs, Swift Parrots, Squirrel Gliders, Southern Brown Bandicoots & (would you believe they are even there) Koalas.  Any DA will also be required to plant more trees & wildlife sustaining landscaping. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/protection-plan-for-endangered-animals/

Mid April 2010 North Sydney Council decided to explore the idea of replanting garden beds in parks & reserves with vegetables. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/councillors-dig-vegie-patch-idea/

North Sydney Council stopped mowing verges early 2009, but after complaints from residents, they will now do a one-off mow at the cost of $58,000. They also intend to reinstate verge mowing by the end of 2010.

Just as an aside, I was told Marrickville Council spends about $2 million per year mowing our verges.  Makes me wonder what that that money could be used for if we just mowed our own & our neighbours if they didn’t have a mower.  $2 million could repair the Coptic Church in Sydenham for history’s sake & for community use or it could buy a lot of street & park trees amongst many other things. I saw a sign in Catherine Street Leichhardt yesterday that read something like – ‘2.3 million dollar footpath upgrade.’ Or we could just grow veggie or flower gardens on our verges.   http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/nature-strips-to-be-mowed-soon/

Energy Australia has angered the community once again by ‘butchering’ 2 large trees in Allambie Heights shopping centre. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/locals-angry-over-allambie-tree-butchery/

An 18 metre high Port Jackson Fig tree with a canopy spreading about 15 metres listed on the Significant Tree Register of City of Sydney Council was removed last month due to extensive rot.  It was part of a row of Figs in Joynton Aveneue Zetland.  The lost tree will be replaced by a mature Port Jackson Fig. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/urgent-removal-of-fig-tree-in-zetland/

City of Sydney Council has joined with Marrickville Council in formally opposing the M5 extension that will go through Tempe Reserve, over Tempe Wetlands & terminate at Euston Road at Sydney Park. Terrific news. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sydney-council-formally-opposes-m5-extension/

It will be interesting to learn how the trial at removing smog in the M5 during March went. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/m5-pollution-trial/

A home up for sale in the Brisbane suburb of Mackenzie incurred $20,000 damage after the front garden was excavated & 10 Palm trees stripped down by unknown workers who fled when people came to watch.  It is thought they were working on the wrong property. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/7685319/Australian-workmen-dig-up-wrong-garden.html

Finishing the ongoing story about the trees in the carpark of Walmart in Henderson Tennessee that were savagely pruned recently, Walmart have been ordered to replace 100 of the Elm trees. This will cost them around US$25,000. http://www.wkrn.com/Global/story.asp?S=12213247

row of trees along a footpath in Birchgrove

Driving down Renwick Street Marrickville South yesterday afternoon I saw to my horror a pile of greenery lying at the base & along the gutter underneath the Hills Figs near the corner of Carrington Road.  These trees have been mutilated AGAIN!  I last posted about this group of trees on 5th January 2010 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/

I have watched these trees since 1996.  These magnificent Hills Figs stood sentinel to the old PYE factory. For some years an electrical company used a part of the site & the rest was a busy timber yard and then an also busy scaffolding supplier. Large trucks used to go in & out the property 6 days a week & nothing happened to the Fig trees except people used to treat them as a dumping ground for all sorts of household rubbish & for the sake of neatness, they were compelled to put this at the base of their trunks.

Then the property was sold & a DA was lodged with Marrickville Council around 2007.  My awareness of these Fig trees heightened because part of the DA was to remove a perfectly healthy magnificent Hills Fig on the Warren Road side of the development & a couple of others on Carrington Rd & Renwick Street for driveways & public visibility of the complex itself.  The community fought this DA for a year ending up in the Land & Environment Court.  The outcome concerning the trees was that only one tree would be removed to construct a driveway at a different place at the front of the development. The community’s fight managed to keep the loss down to one tree.

Over the past 2-3 years, I have watched all sorts of massive damage occur to these trees.  No one knows who is doing it, though we surmise it is done by parking trucks because the damage is done high up in the branches on the road side of the tree.

Renwick Street Marrickville South showing the actual path drivers take & how much room & clearance there is regarding the row of Hills Fig trees

The Fig trees on Carrington Road are literally cleaved out after trucks parking there tore off branches. It’s unlikely that passing trucks did the damage as Marrickville Council has pruned these trees to ensure they are not an obstacle to traffic.  Both Carrington Road & Renwick Street are wide enough for trucks to pass easily & safely.  However, Council seems to not be able to do anything about drivers who decide to park close to the kerb & ram their way through branches.  The only solution is to prohibit trucks parking there.

Do the drivers come in so fast they are unable to brake?  Or do they find the branches a pest & deliberately ram into them?

These trees are very much loved by the community.  They are a landmark in the area &, as there are not many large street trees in this area, we would like to keep them for as long as possible.

I have asked people how they feel about these trees & the response is always one of fervent approval immediately followed by concern that something is going to happen to them.  Recently people have approached me to talk about the state of the Hills Figs on Carrington Road.  In conversations there is an air of pessimism about these trees.

The Tree Strategies Issues Paper which was before Council earlier this year recommended that 59% of the trees in Marrickville LGA be removed.  Council were recommending targeting the mature trees which were labelled ‘senescent,’ meaning ‘approaching an advanced age.’  This block of Hills Figs are senescent.  I would guess they are around 80 years old.

Am I alone in thinking that older, mature trees look fabulous in the main?  It is their size & height that I find particularly attractive & trees need years to grow large.  I don’t understand the need to chop trees down when they are mature, though it has been explained to me that urban trees find it difficult to grow to their full life span because of the difficulties inherent in an urban environment – soil compaction, injury, lack of water, lack of nutrients, disease.  Why can’t Council take special care of our older special trees when they are senescent?  Why is the answer to chop them?  I need to say here that Marrickville Council has not suggested removing these particular trees.

Considering all the adversity these trees are suffering because of human activity, I fear that Council will look at these trees in a year or two & say, “Too damaged.  They need to be removed.”  Chop!  There goes another link to the area’s history & another major loss of beauty that we sorely need.  Not to mention the CO2 sequestration they achieve.

It would be preferable if Council could do something to prevent trucks parking there because the drivers can’t be trusted to not damage the trees.  I know that City of Sydney Council would not tolerate such vandalism done to their trees.  They consider trees the city’s assets & I think they exercise more power over roads because of being the city of Sydney.

I also believe that if Marrickville Council did have a Significant Tree Register, this would go some way in helping implement strategies to protect these trees from drivers.

This week’s damage destroyed yet another large branch.  The photos below tell the remainder of the story.

The yellow arrows indicate damage spots to two of the trees

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

Energy Australia removed only what was necessary

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

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

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

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

Integral Energy butchered these street trees in Valentine Ave Blacktown

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

Compare the two trees

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

Tree-lined M4 which must assist local wildlife

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

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

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

The Sikh temple & a street in the new housing estate

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

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

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

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

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

The Marrickville Council Tree Strategy Issues Paper was up for voting last night & what a doozey of a meeting it turned out to be.  It’s clear there are very strong & opposing views about public trees & the community cannot afford to be uninvolved when our turn comes to contribute.

Some good news before I report on this.  Council unanimously & with much enthusiasm voted in favour of the creation of a new community garden in Denison Street Dulwich Hill.  3 residents spoke in favour of setting up a community garden citing the many benefits it will provide to the community. Council then went on to say that any resident can apply to have a community garden set up in any council owned disused space or reserve in the municipality.  There is mention of this on council’s web-site.

Now back to the Trees Strategy Issues Paper (TSIP).  3 residents addressed the meeting.  While each speech addressed different issues, all of us were against the recommendation to remove 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years.  Although the TSIP says Council intends to plant replacement trees, their own report states a significant percentage of new tree plantings fail.  Since 1972 Marrickville LGA has planted approximately 42,500 street trees.  Today we have 20,000 street trees.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Other points raised that I recall were:

  • Essential that the councillors themselves be knowledgeable about the value & benefits of public trees & tree management before voting to remove 59% of trees within Marrickville LGA.
  • The need for education, communication & consultation with the community about trees.
  • Climate change, the heat island effect, the benefits of trees, the value of mature trees, strategies to look after trees to retain them, history & continuity that mature trees bring, the streetscape & character of Marrickville LGA, supporting increasing the tree canopy, better choice & placement of street trees & the need to care for this significant asset.
  • The recommendation not to establish a Significant Tree Register was also very disappointing, as was the lack of a Tree Inventory.  It is essential the Council knew what its only appreciating asset was & an inventory would serve to keep a record of our history even if trees were removed.
  • The good points were acknowledged as was the work staff had done to prepare the TSIP.

With 3 minutes & a maximum of 6, all 3 of us felt pressed to cover everything needed in this time-frame.  You should try it at least once in your life.  Speaking at Council is much harder than I expected it to be.  You can read my speech here – Speech-MC-9_2_10

Clr Thanos seemed to take affront at the residents’ speeches saying that he was proud of Marrickville, proud of the tree planting that has happened, speaking at length about how we had misunderstood the TSIP.   Well, all 3 of us read it, the Greens understood the same message, as did Labor’s Clr O’Sullivan.  He also said we were using the issue of trees to pursue our own agenda.  For me this was true.  I am trying to save public trees inappropriately earmarked for removal, yet somehow he made my motivation sound like I was scum & he did this from the safety of ‘privilege.’

Clr Thanos needs to understand it is poor form to criticise residents after they have addressed Council suggesting they have no pride in their community & somehow want to take it down.

I will speak for myself, but I know the other speakers were taken aback with his comments.  I also know they care deeply about this issue & have spent a great deal of their leisure time over the years working to help improve this locality.

Melaleucas targeted by TSIP

Deciding to follow what is happening at Council, find documents on Council’s packed web-site, download documents that are often large, read & analyse them, devote time to preparing a speech, spending the evening at Council, the nerves associated with this & putting opinions out in the public arena, are not small things.  Public speaking is classified as the number 1 biggest fear people have, so I ask, why would we do all these things if we didn’t have pride in our LGA & if we weren’t trying to help bring improvements for the community?

Clr Thanos debated & debated.  Clr O’Sullivan added some valid points in an amendment.  She spoke of how she finds herself clinging to shade when she walks in her area because of the heat island effect.  She also spoke about how climate change has become a significant issue & that there have been advancements in tree care & approaches to public trees since this report was last submitted in 2007.  She cited other Councils & suggested that experts be brought in to educate about current trends.

Eucalypts targeted as well

Clr Hanna reasonably suggested that residents be consulted about what tree species to plant outside their houses & said if they had a choice in the matter they would more likely care for the tree.

The Greens spoke about their tree policy, done with consultation with some members of the community, but this was lost in the ensuing melee, which was again disappointing.  Clr Peters reminded us that it has been 17 years since Council has reviewed its Tree Policy saying this current TSIP was not productive.  Clr Olive & other members of the Greens tried many times to discuss certain points of the TSIP, but this was stopped by Clr Thanos with Clr Tsardoulias in the Chair ordering the Greens to stop for points of order.

The Greens suggested their amendment & Clr O’Sullivan’s amendment were really saying the same thing.  Eventually, this was passed.  1,000 trees get to live for another 6 months while a working party of councillors work on this TSIP.

It was unpleasant to be in the Gallery due to obstructionism from Clr Thanos & Clr Tsardoulias.  I gather this is accepted as the culture of this kind of workplace.  Just last week a Strathfield Council made the news due to a Councillor arguing with residents in the Gallery.  Eventually, this argument was continued out in the street. To read the Inner West Courier article – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/strathfield-council-in-chaos/

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/

Large branch sheared off Fig tree

There is a 3 sided block surrounded by large mature Hills Figs in Marrickville South.  One Fig trees is situated on Warren Road, the others along Renwick Street & Carrington Road.  I think there are around 13 Fig trees in total.  These trees would be eligible to be included in a Significant Tree Register, if we had one.  They are a landmark in the area.  Combined with the row of Palms probably planted in the same era (around 80-90 years ago) when the factories along Carrington Road were built, these trees make Carrington Road look far nicer than it would without them.

Two industries used the land for decades, cohabiting comfortably with the trees with large trucks driving in & out.  Unfortunately over the last 15 years the trees have suffered much trauma from severe pruning for the sake of electricity wires. Energy Australia deny pruning these trees & say they were pruned for a loading zone. However, there is a great big long hole through the canopy where the wires travel. (see Energy Australia letters)

Size 9 feet to show dimensions

A DA for the block of land was taken to the Land & Environment Court back in 2008 for a number of reasons, one of which was the proposed removal of 2 of these Fig trees to make way for entrance driveways.  On this issue, Marrickville Council & the community were successful in having the application refused.

Thanks to the Court ruling, these beautiful trees got to live on, with the next threat to their existence being the actual development of the site, which may or may not affect their root system.

This is major damage to this Fig tree

Two months ago, a truck crashed into one of the trees leaving multiple deep gashes in its trunk & causing the loss of one major branch.  A month ago a truck tore off half a tree.  Council had to cut what remained back to the trunk leaving a Fig tree with one branch.  How long before they say this tree is unstable, looks ugly & has to be removed?

Yesterday, I drove by & saw another major branch of one of these trees lying in the gutter.  I can safely assume a truck it ripped off because the area of damage is high off the road.  Council has cut this branch into 3 to make it easier to take away.  I assume they will also have to do work on the tree where the branch was sheared off.

I feel aghast at what is happening to these trees.  There are many trucks that use these streets & their presence is causing a lot of damage. I am sure this is a common story in other areas of Marrickville LGA.

You can see trucks have repeatedly gashed this branch

It is nothing less than vandalism & truck drivers should be required to take more care of street trees & other infrastructure if they are to use these streets.

I blame also the businesses that require the drivers to use extremely large trucks to cut down on the amount of deliveries as a way of increasing profit margin.  While they make money, they are destroying the area.

This was a thriving Fig tree not too long ago. How can this be okay?

If a truck has to drive over a footpath to take a corner, it is too big to be using these narrow streets.  If the driver sees a tree canopy overhead, they can take measures to ensure they do not take branches with them. Council certainly makes sure that the branches of our street trees are high off the ground.  I suspect it wasn’t a passing truck which caused this latest damage.  Many trucks use this area to park overnight.  Seems trying to park a high truck near the kerb brought the vehicle within reach of the canopy and brought the branch down.

It also needs to be said that Carrington Road is a very wide road, certainly big enough for trucks to use & the tree canopy does not restrict passage.

Other news – on 10th December 09 I wrote about a Perth man who was sitting in a street tree to prevent its removal. (see post This is Commitment)  Well, he is still there.

His name is Richard Pennicuik & he lives in the Perth suburb of Thornlie.  He is protesting the proposed removal of 2 mature native street trees outside his property by the City of Gosnell Council.  Apparently, the Council has chopped down 20 other mature street trees in his street & plans to remove the remaining trees. Richard Pennicuik is refusing to come down from the tree until Council reverse their decision to remove these street trees.

Gosnell Council wrote to Mr Pennicuik saying they would not remove the trees for 3 months if he would come down from the tree & discuss the issue with them.  They have also said they will plant native tree species instead of their original intention to plant exotics.  He says this is insufficient & will not be coming down.  He believes the Council will remove the trees if he does.

Imagine spending 4 weeks up a tree & having so much commitment & love for trees to be willing to stay as long as necessary to save these trees.  Many of the comments on the net have been very derogatory towards Mr Pennicuik, but most of these comments have come from people who also chose to write less than positive comments about trees.  I respect Mr Pennicuik & wish him success.  He believes that the earth needs all its mature trees because of global warming & says he is also protesting for his children’s future.

Not the Tempe Fig, but another oldie in the grounds of St Stevens Church in Newtown

Not the Tempe Fig, but another oldie in the grounds of St Stevens Church in Newtown

A number of residents informed me that work has started at the Ikea development on the Princes Highway in Tempe.  They were worried about the Fig trees on the site saying that development had started around the trees. They said with concern that the very old rose garden has been destroyed.  Seems like the locals are regularly checking on these trees.

There are a number of stories about what is really going to happen to the 2 trees.  Some people believe the trees & the heritage building will be staying as is & the development will be built around them.  Others believe that the trees will be lifted up & replanted in another location.  I personally hope this is not the case.  I can’t see how a tree of this size will cope with being transplanted.

So, I went & had a look. The site is visible from the highway.  Huge concrete slabs have been lifted from the ground surrounding the Fig tree, which I have been told is one of the 2 oldest Figs in Australia. There are differing opinions about this as well & I’ll have to find out about this.

I had previously been told that the Fig tree near McDonalds was the oldest & is the tree around which the book My Place, by local author Nadia Wheatley, was centred.

The two trees are magnificent.  The Fig that is visible from the highway is a beautiful specimen.  It has been allowed to grow naturally, so its shape is like a massive bowl with many branches spreading out to the side.   I would love a close look at both of them.  The other Fig is behind the building & only its top can be seen.  Both look to be very healthy & I hope they survive the development.

If Marrickville Council doesn’t have a Significant Tree Register, do they have something else in place that protects trees of such historical value?  Can a Heritage Order be put on a tree?  This is something else for me to research.

It seems like the locals are regularly checking on these trees & please Marrickville Council, please do what you can to ensure that neither of these trees are damaged or built too close to.  The locals feel great pride about these trees & want them to be allowed to live on for future generations.  So do I.

More about this when I have done some research & spoken with Council.

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