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A common streetscape in Marrickville

A common streetscape in Marrickville

Marrickville Council released their Street Tree Master Plan to public consultation last Friday.

At sixteen documents this is a lot to read & I am working through it. I have already received feedback that expressed disappointment about the lack of Eucalypts. I have not arrived here in my reading yet.

What I have read so far is very good with some significant changes from the past.   Hopefully, we will go into a greener future with a better urban forest.

The community consultation document was extremely interesting. For me the most incredible information was that two percent of residents did not want street trees in Marrickville municipality.  I am glad that hasn’t got a chance of becoming a reality.

Council has not given the community long to comment.   Submissions are due by Friday 20th June 2014.   With such an important document that decides just how our municipality will look for the foreseeable future, I believe the community consultation should be a minimum of 2-months.

You can download the documents here –

You can leave comments online here –

Or send a written submission to Marrickville Council at –

More later – after I have had a chance to read through the mountain of documents.

David Street Marrickville - one of the best streets in Marrickville LGA & a result of Council's decision making at least 8 decades ago

David Street Marrickville – one of the best streets in Marrickville LGA & a result of Council’s decision-making at least 8 decades ago

Another street in Marrickville.  No overhead powerlines & footpaths of equal size on both sides of the road.

Another street in Marrickville. No overhead powerlines on the left & no street trees. The footpaths of equal size on both sides of the road.

Marrickville Council has released a report on their recent community consultation regarding our urban forest.  They gathered this information in four different ways –

  • Telephone survey of 400 residents.
  • Web survey – 391 people took part.
  • Stakeholder workshop with the Environment Committee & the Cooks River Committee.
  • Review of Customer Service complaints & requests regarding street trees.

The majority of the 400 residents who participated in the telephone survey believed Marrickville LGA to be attractive.  More than half said this was because of trees & plants on the streets.  The rest believe the best way to increase attractiveness was to increase trees, plants & greenery.   A whopping 20% did not want street trees in Marrickville Local Government Area.

Those surveyed had the following preferences for street trees –

  • Evergreen & native Australian trees or trees endemic to Marrickville LGA.
  • A mix of two or more species in the same street.
  • Between 10-15 metres in height.
  • Broad spreading thin canopy that provides filtered shade.

The online survey had similar results with more people concerned about care & maintenance of street trees.  Some reported problems with street trees.

Council’s review of complaints & requests regarding street trees showed that 39% concerned pruning a street tree, 18% reporting a hazardous street tree & 16% requesting a street tree be removed.

No information was given about the outcomes from the stakeholder workshop with the Environment Committee & the Cooks River Committee.

The Draft Street Tree Master Plan ideas in brief were –

  • Increasing the canopy cover.
  • The identification of many new planting sites, particularly planting in-road & in industrial areas.
  • Planting medium stature trees, which are larger than what is currently the norm for almost half of our street trees.
  • Replacing short stature trees with medium stature trees over time.
  • Planting locally indigenous & native tree species to improve biodiversity.
  • Include water sensitive urban design in identified sites.
  • Planting the right tree for the right place to increase shade, while not blocking solar access.
  • Reconsider planting street trees in verges less than 1.5-metres wide.

Although the Tree Inventory identified 263 public tree species across Marrickville LGA, which sounds good, over 45% came from only five species. These are –

  1. Callistemon viminalis (Weeping Bottlebrush)
  2. Melaleuca bracteata (Black Tea Tree)
  3. Tristaniopsis laurina (Water Gum) – very slow growing,
  4. Fraxinus griffithii (Evergreen Ash) – classified as a new & emerging weed in NSW.  Both the Global Compendium of Weeds & ‘CRC for Australian Weed Management’ classifies Fraxinus griffithii as an environmental weed, &
  5. Lagerstroemia indica (Crepe myrtle).

The report went on to say under the heading of ‘Planting Trees for the Future,’ that Council will –

  • Improve the range of tree species planted.
  • Increase the urban forest canopy by planting in industrial areas.
  • Plant taller larger growing trees on the side of the street that has no powerlines &
  • Investigate in-road planting opportunities.
  • They will also investigate the installation of Aerial Bundled Cabling to allow trees to grow around powerlines.

I must say that I am pleased with these results.  Findings such as planting locally indigenous & Australian native trees did not surprise me, nor did planting evergreen trees.  The number one complaint I hear about street trees is leaf litter.   It is not an exaggeration to say many people despise leaf litter.  I’ve lost count of the people who have told me they want a street tree removed because it drops leaves.

16 per cent of residents requesting a street tree be removed is quite high a number when you think about it.  Hopefully this will change for the better with Council’s plan to plant the right tree in the right place.  There was no information regarding how many of these requests are granted.

I was shocked that one fifth of those surveyed did not want street trees.  This affirms the urgency for Council to educate the community about the value of trees.  If people knew that trees increase learning ability in girls, calm down children with ADHD as well as adults with dementia & reduce violence as well as many other benefits, they might see trees differently.

If the 20 per cent got their wish & we did not have street trees, property values across the whole municipality would plummet.  Recent research has shown that respiratory illnesses, heart disease & fatal heart attacks would increase significantly.    Depressive & anxiety illnesses would also skyrocket.

In Marrickville municipality we cannot afford NOT to have street trees because there are not enough trees on private property to make up the difference.  Both people & wildlife rely on the many benefits street trees provide.

It would be great if Council could continue their education about the benefits of the urban forest with every opportunity that arises.  Certainly the information, stories & photos about verge gardens in Marrickville Matters is having a positive impact with what seems to be a boom of enthusiasm towards & the actual creation of new verge gardens across Marrickville LGA.

I love that Council will be investigating opportunities for in-road planting.   All the best streets have these & although some car parking spaces are lost, the benefits are worth it in my opinion.  In-road street trees definitely increase property values as well as improve livability.

I am also very pleased that taller growing trees will be planted on the side of the road where there are no powerlines.   It just makes sense.  That industrial areas will be planted with trees is also a terrific outcome & will most certainly make these areas much nicer for the workers, as well as increase food sources & habitat for our wildlife.   It may also reduce sick leave according to research about the impact a view of trees has in work environments.  More trees mean more birds & more birds makes for a nicer living environment.

Council is offering the community another opportunity to give feedback on this report.  You can download the report here –

Go to or write to Marrickville Council Marrickville Council or send a letter.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 30th August 2013.

Much of Stanmore has lovely streetscapes, but there are still streets like this one.

Much of Stanmore has lovely streetscapes, but there are still streets like this one.

Part industrial, part residential in Marrickville.

Part industrial, part residential in Marrickville.  It could look so much better.

Old Canterbury Road - so much concrete

Old Canterbury Road – so much concrete.  It’s ugly & it doesn’t need to be this way.

Salisbury Road was pretty bare in the 1980's.  Look at it now.  Much of it is very beautiful.  Big trees have been planted even though it is a high traffic road.

Salisbury Road Stanmore was pretty bare in the early 1980’s. Look at it now. Much of it is quite beautiful. Big trees have been planted, even though it is a high traffic road.




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 ––-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 – & 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 – The deadline for submissions is Monday 28th February 2011.

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



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