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The route for the bird survey in Tempe Reserve

8am this morning saw us join 10 other people in Tempe Reserve to participate in the bird survey part of the ‘Birds & Bush’ event put on by Marrickville Council.   Two friendly & very informed Council staff told us what we would need to do for the bird survey, gave us a clipboards with a map & a sheet of 16 bird species that we could expect to see.  So off we all went on an easy & slow walk around the southern side of Tempe Reserve.

We went through the Cooks River Valley Garden, past the ring of Figs & a miniature Sydney Turpentine – Ironbark forest, through sandstone heath land, around the large saltwater wetland & alongside the Cooks River past a patch of  floodplain forest back to where we started.  A generous morning tea with fresh strawberries, croissant, chocolate biscuits & snails (the sweat kind) was shared.  The next 2 hours were to be devoted to doing some planting in the Cooks River Valley Garden.

It was an perfect morning for bird spotting, so what did we see?  All 16 bird species expected were spotted, plus another 19 species.  A pelican graced us with its presence & 4 cormorants fished together.  The staff members were happy with the numbers of birds, which was good, as they knew what they wanted to find.  We thought it quiet, but perhaps birds come in & out of Tempe Reserve during different parts of the day.

I got to ask many questions & received answers about things that have always puzzled me.  I also learnt that what I thought was a Grey-faced Heron is actually a White-faced Heron (details…details…) & why there are no trees in certain areas in Tempe Reserve.  It’s because heath habitat has been created for lizards, snakes & ground-feeding birds.

Tempe Reserve was originally the Gumbramorra swamp & mud flats. Then it became the landfill tip for many decades.  Eventually the land was reclaimed & to encourage wildlife Marrickville Council is trying to create the range of habitats that would have once been in the area.

I found an article written in August 2005 from the Sydney Morning Herald, which had some interesting information.

“Tempe Tip, once Sydney’s favourite haunt for bargain hunters, sat in the too-hard basket for 30 years after it was closed.  That was up to last year. (2004) Now, $17.5 million later, the former tip is 10 hectares of parkland adjacent to an existing reserve with 4 hectares of wetlands & embankment landscaped with native plants, a golf driving range & dog off-leash areas. Ducks & birds are returning.”

We didn’t see any ducks, but it was interesting to learn that Tempe Reserve is only 7-years old. Considering this, what Marrickville Council & community volunteers have managed to create is nothing short of amazing.  There is birdlife here & this should improve as more habitat & food sources get planted & grow.

Council are planning to hold more bird survey events, so if you have an interest in birds or want to learn about them in an easy-going way with a bunch of friendly people, then you will enjoy this free outing.

A male Blue Wren seen this morning

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article today about the increase of tree poisoning happening in Sydney, particularly the Inner West.  SoT got a mention.

”Without a doubt, people are removing them because they think it’ll bump up the price of their land even more,” said a local arborist, Kelly Eedy. ”The reality, though, is that the leafy streets tend to be the most sought after ones.”

I hope that this article prompts Marrickville Council to dedicate more resources to fighting tree vandalism.

Good looking, tall street trees significantly increase the value of nearby properties. A property that has a leafy canopy will sell for more money than one that doesn't. If you want to increase the value of your property, plant trees.

On 17 February 2011 the Federal Court ruled against the Bat Advocacy Inc’s challenge to the decision of the Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett to allow the forced removal of the colony of Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes (GHFF) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. This was not an appeal to review the merits of the decision, but a hearing on points of law. The court said that its function was to examine whether “the correct processes were followed by the Minister in making his decision.”

Flying-foxes love the nectar of flowering Gums & will quietly drink from each flower of the tree

Bat Advocacy Inc raised 4 challenges, which were answered by the court as follows:

1. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration when exercising his power of approval. That consideration was the impact on the GHFF resulting from their removal from their critical habitat in the Gardens. A:    The Minister concluded that the proposed action should be attempted if the GHFF could be acceptably & safely dispersed in order to prevent ongoing damage being occasioned to the internationally significant trees within the Gardens. Thus, the Minister did not fail to consider the loss of the GHFF habitat in the Gardens and the draft Recovery Plan.

2. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration, namely the social matters & the associated community conflicts resulting from the dispersal of the GHFF to areas outside the Gardens. A:    The portion of the Reasons under the heading ‘Social & Economic Matters’ demonstrates that the Minister has given due regard to information on social matters identified in the PER & in public submissions.

3. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account all adverse impacts, present & throughout the duration of the approval, that the approval would have on matters protected by Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The approval is stated to remain effective until 2039. The applicant does not identify the impacts which have allegedly been disregarded by the Minister. Rather, the submission merely suggests that there may be cumulative impacts which will adversely affect the GHFF. A:     Based upon the precise nature of the monitoring, which will continue throughout the life of the approval, & upon which the life of the approval is contingent, it could not be said that the Minister failed to consider how the approval would operate to the date of expiry.

4. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into consideration other information in the Minister’s possession concerning similar GHFF dispersals which had been raised in public submissions and referred to in the Independent Expert Report of Dr Richards. A:     The Minister was aware of the potential for the proposed action to be unsuccessful. In these circumstances, the Court cannot conclude that the Minister failed to consider previous unsuccessful attempts to disperse colonies of GHFF in Australia.

That still doesn’t make the decision the right one & the court hasn’t answered this question.

In May 2011, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust will start dispersal techniques of around 22,000 ‘threatened’ grey-headed flying foxes.  The Sydney Morning Herald wrote – “But the Gardens said that to date the bats had destroyed 27 mature trees & more than 20 palms since they took up residence there 20 years ago.  Another 300 trees were at risk, Dr Entwisle said.  Several sites have been identified as possible homes for the bats, including existing flying fox camps at Ku-ring-gai, Cabramatta & Parramatta.  Botany Bay National Park & Lane Cove National Park were also named, although the Gardens has said it could not be certain whether the bats would settle in any specific location.”

Flying-foxes also love the nectar from Grevillea flowers

According to bat experts, dispersal techniques will make the bats tired & stressed, making them prone to serious injury. They will have to join other colonies to fight & compete with food that was, at least during 2010, very scarce.  Bats were found all along the east coast of Australia & as far as Adelaide looking for food with some eating citrus fruit in country orchards, although citrus is not their usual food.

The east coast situation of starving bats has resulted in an increase in anti-bat sentiment in the community with many complaining about bats in their garden keeping them or their children awake at night. This blog’s stats show with alarming regularity people searching the question, “How to get rid of bats?”  I know what the answer will be.  Some people will chop down their trees to take away the food & the tree/s that the bats are using.  No tree, no bat. I predict there will be a great increase tree removal & despite the rules & regulations of Councils, many won’t bother to get permission.  Our Council wouldn’t know the true numbers of tree removal across Marrickville LGA & I’d bet this is the same with other Councils.

Golf courses, when they have Fig trees, are wonderful for flying-foxes to find food

Sydney Councils have been saying throughout 2010 that they did not want the 22,000 Botanic Gardens flying-foxes to come to their area so it’s not as simple as removing the bats from the Gardens for them to happily fly away to another home. Their removal will have a ripple effect & I doubt it will be supportive of the bats.

The grey-headed flying fox is listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ with the major threat being loss of habitat. Other factors are: being killed by people & declining numbers.  Flying foxes have a very low breeding rate so don’t breed & boom.  They eat native fruit & nectar & do a terrific & vital job in pollination & seed distribution so we actually need them. When starving they will eat citrus fruit.  Because of loss of habitat, flying-foxes come to feed on flowering trees in suburban back gardens.  They eat & leave, rarely deciding to roost & usually only return for 2-3 weeks before moving on to a different food source. There is no evidence that people can get the Hendra virus from bats. Rather than hurt a flying fox if you want to stop it from visiting your garden, contact the Department of Environment Climate Change & Water for assistance –

If you net fruit trees it is important to pull the netting tight so a bat can walk over it, but not get entangled & injured.

I appreciate the situation that the Trust is faced with & understand why they sought the eviction.  However, there are many others like me who are sad & disappointed about this decision, who believe the bats should be allowed to continue to live in the Botanic Gardens & that their eviction will create many more problems for bats & other birds.  It is also an enormous loss of opportunity for ‘natural tourism,’ as many people would travel to see such a glorious sight right in the heart of our city. Let’s hope that everything works out quickly so everyone can be happy, most of all the bats.

I last wrote about the flying foxes at the Royal Botanic Gardens here –’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

A Fig tree in fruit - fabulous food for Flying-foxes

Happy concrete

I have mentioned recently that Portland Oregon in the US has for a while been my number one favourite with all things environmental in an urban environment.  If it can be done & improves the livability of the environment, they do it.  If it extends the life of a street tree, they do it.  If it improves stormwater management, they do it.  They also have what appears to be large community interest & involvement with a thriving community of volunteers across many programs that better the urban environment.  Portland shows the rest of us what can be done.

The latest that I have discovered is depaving.  There is a push coming from the community to remove unnecessary concrete in urban environments for the following reasons –

  • It’s ugly & not seen as conducive to creating livable cities.
  • It’s bad for stormwater management. Hard surfaces increase stormwater, over-burden drains & carry large amounts of ground pollution to rivers, lakes & oceans.
  • Impervious surfaces prevent much of the rainwater seeping into & refilling the groundwater table.
  • Impervious surfaces increase the Heat Island Effect making our environment hotter than it needs to be resulting in increased power usage just to cool our buildings.
  • Concreted surfaces have destroyed habitat & made whole areas unsuitable for urban wildlife.
  • In some cases these kind of surfaces have disconnected people from the natural world. Some people see concrete as ‘clean’ & fallen leaves as ‘dirty.’ This creates a cycle where more & more trees in gardens & along streets are seen as pests & either removed or vandalized.  Once the overall canopy is lessened, the Heat Island Effect grows, power use also grows, but what doesn’t grow is urban wildlife who has fewer places of habitat & food supplies.

Thankfully street trees were planted last year in this vast area of new asphalt in Camperdown. The photo doesn't show it, but the pavement is at least 5 metres across with plenty of room for gardens

Paul Sheehan wrote the following for the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2009 –  “You, reader, live in a primitive city. In a hundred years from now, the society we are building will look back & marvel at how little we really understood about the world we have constructed for ourselves.

We are stewing in our own juices.

Last Wednesday, a night of driving rain, I attended a seminar where more than 100 professionals, a standing room-only crowd, had gathered to learn about practical, cheap, achievable ways of stopping Sydney’s pot from simmering. These were not wide-eyed utopians. In purely parochial terms, the heating of our biggest cities is even bigger than the global warming debate. Because the rise in temperature is mostly & demonstrably caused by outdated thinking.

The story starts on Observatory Hill, at the southern end of the Harbour Bridge, where weather records have been kept daily since 1860. What the observatory has recorded is a rise in the average temperature at the centre of Sydney from 20.5 degrees to 22 degrees. As Sydney grows, Sydney slowly heats.

At last Wednesday’s seminar we learnt why – 27% of the surface of the metropolitan area is covered by bitumen, the black tar which soaks & retains heat & thus changes the city’s climate.

Nearly all the rainwater run-off on this 27% of the city is lost to productive use, flowing into Sydney Harbour because it is designed that way. The city’s rooftops also gather heat. Roads & pavements maximise the waste of arable land. Tree-planting is stunted for legal reasons. Topsoil is “scalped” by roadworks. The increasing use of air-conditioners is creating more energy. More heat begets more heat.”

There is much more to this article, including the work Landscape Architect Micheal Mobbs & his neighbours are doing to green & cool the residential streets of Chippendale –

I wrote about Micheal Mobbs & his green verges here –

Great use of stormwater, but not very efficient

People & local Councils have paved whatever they could since the late 70s.  It was a movement of convenience as concrete is easier to drive on, easier to walk along & easier to clean with a hose.  The main beneficiaries were people with a disability who need flat surfaces to get around & parents with prams.

I believe we need to continue to provide safe & easy access for everyone & there is much need for improvement in this area. Just last month I watched a man in a wheelchair who was forced to travel along the road next to Petersham Town Hall with the cars because there were no wheelchair ramps on the high kerbs at all 4 corners of the cross road.  There must be many such areas like this that make wheelchair travel dangerous & difficult.

Leaving aside wheelchair & pram accessible footpaths & kerbs, many government authorities overseas think that concrete worship has gone too far &, because of the above negative effects, are rethinking their concreting practices of the past.

Most car parks do not need to have concrete or asphalt/bitumen. They can easily be compacted permeable surfaces allowing stormwater to travel into the ground to the water table rather than into 100-plus-year-old drains. Permeable surfaces actually need less maintenance than do impervious bitumen surfaces & therefore are cheaper in the long run.  Appropriate trees can be planted within the parking spaces improving the visual outlook & also helping with stormwater & pollution uptake.

Footpaths do not need to be wall to kerb, except in shopping strips where a greater use of the footpath space is required or where the space between building & kerb is unusually narrow.

This was a very popular landscaping idea in the 1990's. Cement pavers with pebbles or mondo grass in between allowed walking, but let the water drain away.

Marrickville Council is adept in building bio-swales & rain gardens. There is no reason why a small rain garden or two cannot be built within a car park if there is a reasonable flow of water from nearby buildings & from the lie of the land when it rains.

I suspect these ideas will be dismissed in most areas of Australia as ‘too greenie’ because of the convenience of paved surfaces. However, in a few years depaving will be the norm because of the worldwide push to restore groundwater, lessen the Heat Island Effect, restore habitat & make cities more livable.

Although many governments are stalling any real action on climate change, some overseas already depave, create green space & plant more trees in public spaces in cities because they know what is coming. It is like a slow culture change. Once we get used to these changes back to softer infrastructure, we will cope with the bigger changes of gravel lanes & fewer paved surfaces.

If we can create a balance where people who require flat surfaces for mobility can have this, but remove unnecessary hard surfaces & green up, we will have a much cooler, prettier, more environmentally friendly & wildlife habitable environment to live in.  It doesn’t take much to create a huge improvement on many levels.

Here is a 4-minute film where the Portland community removed 278.7 sq metres (3,000 sq feet) of asphalt to create a community space with a perennial food forest.

Many hundreds of cars use this car park to busy shops in Croydon 7 days a week. Cars are sheltered from the sun under Ornamental Pear trees, there are garden spaces where the trees are, red gravel allows the water to pass into the ground. There are no tyre troughs or dips & it is easy to walk on. Your car is cool when you return from shopping & it is visually pretty making the shopping area look more inviting. (Ignore the imprisoned tree. It's far to late for it now)


1.  In a move to be proud of Chinese officials have ordered that barren hills be painted green to give the impression of trees. “This [painting hills into green] is the most advanced experience in our country. We learned it from the internet & then decided to do it.” Follow-up reports by Chinese media have found that it is quite a popular practice in some mountainous areas in Fujian province to use green paint to ‘reforest’ hills.” Sorry there is no photo.

I wholly recommend having a look at award-winning 2009 photos taken by Lu Guang – Pollution in China.  I think it’s the best example I have ever seen of why we need to care for the environment.  We are so lucky to live in Australia.

Lichen grows on a Casuarina

2. Progress Energy intend to chop down hundreds of large, old trees in the Seagate neighborhood in Wilmington US.  Trees targeted are those that might grow taller than 3.5-metres (12 feet) & are within 7.6-metre on either side of the power lines.  Trees have been living within this 152-metre strip since 1972, but times have changed. I find it interesting that with global warming comes the knowledge that we need to plant more trees, yet there is so much tree removal happening because of ‘new ways’ of doing things.   I wonder whether it is due to a fear that when global warming gets worse, companies will be prevented from removing trees & want to get in before any restrictions happen.

4. A recently published global study, Drought-induced Reduction in Global Terrestrial Net Primary Production from 2000-2009 has shown that CO2 uptake by the world’s forest has declined. “It diminishes hopes that global warming can be seriously slowed down by the mass planting of trees in carbon sinks. Although plants generally grow bigger as a result of absorbing carbon-enriched air, they need more water & nutrients to do so & they have been getting less.”

5.  56 trees in Damrosch Park New York were chopped down to make way for Fashion Week’s tents.  This event followed the usual argument of “the trees were healthy, the trees were not healthy & we are going to plant a whole lot more soon anyway.”  First it was fur, now it is trees.   How about finding another location?

6. Massive tree planting led by Buddhist monks & nuns & aiming at 1 million trees will happen in Ladakh Northern India during October 2010. They plan to set a world record of planting the maximum number of trees in an hour. Ladakh was beset with flooding & landslides last August 2010 that washed away hundreds of houses, blocked roads & destroyed bridges. Thousands of people were affected & at least 170 people died.  The tree planting is hoped to prevent this from happening again.

7. In Dallas Texas, a new 5.2-acre park is being constructed above the Freeway. The traffic will still run as usual, but people will be able to use the green space above.  I think this is wonderful urban design.

8.  Kuala Lumpur authorities have requested NGOs & the private sector to plant more trees to support the effort of reducing global warming. 30 million trees to be exact. Makes me wonder why Australia doesn’t come up with these kinds of numbers.

9.  A UK Tree Surgeon chopped down trees, dropping logs, leaves & branches on to cars parked in a busy street beneath & wouldn’t stop. Bad day?

10.  A 15 year-old Maple tree was professionally removed by persons unknown in the grounds of a church in Leytonstone US.

11.  The city of Albany in the US is offering free trees to residents to plant in front of their homes or businesses. Street trees also add to the curb appeal of a building, which can increase its real estate value. What a great program.

Grevillea, favourite food of nectar-eating birds

12.  America’s & Canada’s Ash trees are being decimated by the Asian Emerald Ash Borer.  Like Australia’s Cane toad, the ash borer has no enemies in the US & Canada. Since being introduced accidentally into Michigan early this decade, ash borers have spread to 14 US states & Canada. The larvae burrow through the bark cutting off trees’ pathways for water & nutrients causing the tree to suffer a slow death.   In Sioux Falls US, an estimated 75,000 Green Ash trees as well as undetermined number of trees along the river greenway & at Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls US are at risk of this insect. The City Forester is recommending a program to create diversity by removing some of the Ash trees & planting different species in an attempt not to lose all the Ash trees to the borer when it arrives.

13.  America is also fighting another tree killing insect, the Asian long-horned beetle.  This beetle has caused tens of thousands of hardwood trees to be destroyed in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey & New York. The beetle has recently been found in Boston as well.  Community action days are regularly held to scope trees & find this beetle.  He is a good-looking beetle, but another tree-muncher who likes around 12 species of hardwood trees & shouldn’t be in the US. To see what the beetle looks like –

Reflection of Norfolk Island Pines along the Cooks River in Tempe

Down along the Cooks River - Marrickville side

Dulwich Hill & Marrickville got a mention in an article about conservation in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently Echidnas live here.  Earthwatch Institute & Landcare has launched a new research program & they are asking the community to let them know of minute changes to their local environment. You can log on & let them know of new birds, new insects, less birds & insects, earlier flowering seasons &  what kind of animals/birds live in you area.

Just in my area over the last 12 months has seen the arrival of a Spotted Pardalote, a baby Ring-tail Possum, a huge increase in birds & a bunch of Wedge-tail Eagles flying overhead.  We have discovered the Bandicoots living in Lewisham, although WIRES already knew about them. Kookaburras are living in Lewisham trees that are fast been chopped down.

There must be things happening in your area. If we report it, then we have a greater chance of saving its habitat should the need arise.

Earthwatch –

Landcare –

Beautiful Wolli Creek also gets a main article on page 12 of today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Wolli Creek Valley is 50 hectares of natural bush along 13 kms from Bexley North to Turella & is the only bushland of any size left in the inner south-west Sydney. More than 260 plants have been identified in the Wolli Creek Valley & it is the home to many birds, animals, insects, flying- foxes, fish & frogs. It is very precious & a vital space for urban wildlife.

In 1998 the NSW state government of Bob Carr announced the prospective establishment of a Wolli Creek Regional Park under the management of National Parks & Wildlife Service. The Wolli Creek Regional Park remains nothing more than a promise almost 12 years later.

The Wolli Creek Preservation Society has an online petition as part of their campaign to have the Wolli Creek Regional Park established. It takes 1 minute to do something that will help keep a precious piece of historical bushland for future generations & for urban wildlife. Please sign.

To read the SMH article –

An area planted over the 2-3 years at The Warren

This week I counted the following trees around the current Marrickville Metro & the block where they intend to expand.

67 Fig trees, 9 Brush Box trees, 3 Camphor laurel trees, 8 Eucalypts, 4 Palm trees, 1 Canary Island Palm, 2 Melaleuca trees, 8 Bottlebrush trees, 4 Peppercorn trees, 10 Wattle trees & 26 unidentified species of trees.


There are another 24 medium trees on site that may be included in the development bringing the potential total tree loss to 166 trees.

Just some of the trees at risk of removal if the Marrickville Metro expansion goes ahead. The trees create a lovely ambience around the Metro, collect air pollution from vehicles, bring significant beauty to the area, sequester large amounts of CO2, help to lessen the Heat Island Effect & provide homes & food for urban wildlife. Their loss will be devastating.

AMP Capital say the Fig trees only have an average 5-15 years left to live. In ideal conditions, Figs live 150-200 years.  Although these trees are not in ideal conditions they are very healthy. To replace the trees they plan to plant 28 Eucalyptus paniculata (Grey Ironbark) along Murray Street & low level accent, grass & groundcovers “to ensure that general safety, sightlines & CPTED principals are maintained.” – meaning all signs & the building will be very visible as if the height of the new buildings is not enough.

More of the trees at risk of removal.

I think losing these trees will be a huge loss for the community, for air quality, for beauty of the area & for urban wildlife.  Currently most of Marrickville Metro is hidden behind large beautiful, healthy trees. I cannot imagine the area without them. Most of these trees are mature & took decades to grow.

Still more trees at risk of removal

The Metro expansion will also result in a 65-68% increase in traffic from an estimated extra 4 million customers a year. It will destroy our local shopping strips & remove much of the individual kind of shop that make the Inner West unique.

I asked a taxi driver standing outside Metro what he thought, thinking he would be for the expansion as it would bring him more business. He replied, “It will kill the local shops in Marrickville, Enmore & Newtown. I don’t think it will be good for us.”

Marrickville Metro want to buy Smidmore Street. Every bit of green is at risk of removal

AMP Capital also want to purchase Smidmore Street from Marrickville Council.  I think there is a big chance that Council will sell Smidmore Street to help with their financial situation.  In last Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald

Council sources said a figure of $8 million has been discussed for the purchase of Smidmore Street, along the shopping centre’s southern boundary, but that no formal offer has yet been made. Several councillors told the Herald the council is united in refusing to sell Smidmore Street ”on principle”, but would not comment on whether that position would change if the project gained approval.

In return for traffic gridlocked streets, parking problems, much more noise, air pollution, visual pollution & the potential loss of at least 142 beautiful trees, AMP Capital will give us many more shops like we can get at close-by Roselands, Eastgardens or Broadway shopping malls. They are also offering a small library & a community education board.

We already have a number of fabulous & free-to-use libraries courtesy of Marrickville Council & a public education board is nothing to get excited about.

The car park of Marrickville Metro is surrounded by the canopy of the Figs & other trees providing a buffer to surrounding properties & creating an ambience unknown anywhere else in Sydney. They also prevent particulate matter (known to cause lung & heart disease) from the vehicles from dropping onto the street & surrounding properties.

The expansion to double the size of the current Metro makes me wonder where the customers are going to come from. Around 2-3 years ago, all the shops in Metro were required to do a specific renovation as part of sprucing up Metro & their rents were raised.   A number of shops were struggling to meet this cost & some moved out to set up shop elsewhere.  Since then, there have always been vacant shops in Marrickville Metro.

I am of the belief that AMP Capital would not be investing millions to do the expansion if they weren’t absolutely sure they will make bucket-loads of money.

All these trees are at risk of removal as well

Right now the area is classified as a village, but if the expansion goes ahead, the Department of Planning may be within their rights to reclassify the area as a ‘Town Centre’ simply because of the size of Marrickville Metro.  This will mean that development in the league of Bondi Junction & Hurstville will be allowed.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see the industrial-zoned areas around Metro being rezoned residential.  Once that is done, a ‘unit city’ can be built very close to Metro.  Then, to cope with the massive increase in traffic, the M6, an arterial road that is planned for Edgeware Road may one day be built. Edgeware Road is already often bumper-to-bumper.  The Marrickville Transport Action Group say – Cardigan St, Edgeware Rd, Liberty St & Kingston Rd are key to the F6 plan.

Who knows if my theories have any weight, but it does make more sense as to why such a huge shopping mall is being planned when there are not enough current customers & it constantly has a number of empty shops.

The proposed Metro expansion is going to have a massive impact on Marrickville & surrounding suburbs in terms of traffic & pollution.  To my mind, it is not just an issue for residents who live nearby & shop owners, although it is an appalling prospect for them.  The expansion is an issue that will affect many of us because:

  • it will choke many of the roads that are at capacity now
  • it will likely weaken our shopping strips reducing choice & this often negatively affects variety of products & price
  • it will reduce competition
  • it will bring more 19-metre long semi-trailers to our narrow suburban streets  &
  • it will take away the community feeling that shopping strips help create, because these are public spaces where we retain all our rights as citizens, whereas shopping malls are private spaces under the control of developers/corporations.

Unless the community come out in great numbers & say they do not want the Metro expansion, it will happen.

If you are against any aspect of the planned expansion, please send in a submission to the Department of Planning by Friday 27th August 2010.  Their e-mail is –

It is called Major Project – MP_0191 – 34 Victoria Road Marrickville. If you would like a draft submission please send me an e-mail.

1.   4 new Australian National Parks have been opened in Victoria in June 2010 – the Barmah, Lower Goulburn, Warby Ovens & Gunbower National Parks have been established to protect drought stressed Red Gums.

2.  South East Queensland got 2 new national parks this week at Tewantin & Pumicestone to protect remnant forests.  2000 hectares was also added to Glass House National Park & 13 of the 14 peaks of the Glass House Mountains are now in the park. These parks will protect threatened stringybark & scribbly gum forests & the rare & threatened glossy Black Cockatoo (I’ve seen these wild in Cooroy), the Wallum Rocketfrog, the Sooty Owl & the Water Mouse.

3.  Lend Lease is building an over-55 residential living & nursing home development in Morpeth NSW approved by Maitland City Council.  One of the things Maitland City Council also approved was the removal of more than 900 trees (not a typo) that are to be chopped down for the development.  The trees were called a buffer zone, which to me means an area that is a habitat for wildlife corridor. The residents are angry.

4.   Community protesters against a plan to transfer Moore Park to the SCG trust have won their fight. Last Wednesday night 1,000 people met at Paddington Town Hall. The next day Premier Kristina Keneally said the land would not be taken from the Centennial Park trust.

5.   The Opinion section of the Batemans Bay Post had a letter from Rosemary Hughes from Surf Beach about a DA for a new Bunnings. She writes, “…to my horror, I learned that the Bunnings proposal will remove tens of thousands of trees & huge amounts of earth/rock from alongside the tourist drive road next to the Surf Beach roundabout, creating a vast flat open space equivalent to 7 football fields with a monster shed over 200 metres long.  It will mean the loss of a huge area of habitat & connecting corridors for an important range of native fauna. Bird life will be equally devastated.” Surely both Bunnings could choose a better site & the Batemans Bay Council will protect such an area. Here’s hoping sense prevails.  The other letters are also interesting regarding environmental matters.

6.    The Department of Climate Change has put together a new mapping tool that identifies areas at risk of flooding by rising sea levels.  This is to be distributed to Councils soon.  Last Marrickville Council meeting Mackey Park & Botany Bay area were mentioned as areas that could be affected by a 1 metre sea rise, yet climate experts think the actual rise will be more like 2 metres.  Amazing to think what would have to be submerged if Mackey Park became beachfront.

7.   Railcorp has angered residents by chopping down trees alongside the railway line in Epping & they intend to do more at Beecroft. Railcorp said, The site of the works was found to be 95% noxious species of plants & the remaining natives were left in place & pruned.”

8.   Community group Save Our Springwood are angry saying they were actively ignored by the majority of Councillors during a Blue Mountains Council meeting regarding community opposition to the building of a supermarket in Springwood. Apparently 7 Councillors “sat silently” for the entire 2½ hour meeting, even after members of the crowd asked them questions.” Between 230-400 residents attended the Council meeting. I would have loved to have been there.

9.    Goondiwindi Regional Council chopped down an unspecified number of Fig trees in McLean Street Goondiwindi because “the figs were damaging the footpath & getting in the way of power lines” much to the anger of the community. The Fig trees were young at around 50 years old & are what Goondiwindi is known for. Not any more they aren’t.

10.  One of Australia’s rarest birds has been spotted in remote Western Australia. (audio)

11. The IKEA heritage Fig has been removed. See below.  There is a lot happening regarding trees & related things at the moment.  Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

The IKEA heritage Fig was relocated on Saturday 26th June 2010. The tree is now is now much closer to the Princes Highway at the side of the old Penfold's clock tower building. It was moved about 40-50 metres. Thanks to Laurel Horton who took this photo to & Richard Blair both of Marrickville Heritage Society for the information as well as permission to use this photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A random view of Parramatta Road at Stanmore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following is my understanding of last Tuesday’s Council Meeting.  Note that the rest of the Council Meeting has been posted as ‘part 1.’  All mistakes are mine.

Audio-streaming of Council meetings:  Greens Clr Phillips moved a motion for Council to implement audio-streaming & put money aside to do this.  He said audio-streaming Council meetings would increase transparency, allow for better accountability & may improve behaviour of councillors in the chamber.  He said it would also allow residents to know what is happening in Council & that many NSW Councils are already doing it.

Clr Thanos became lively saying, “0000.1% of the population will want to listen in.  I don’t want to spend 1% of 000000.1% for them to listen in when they are not interested.”  He went on to say Council will have to take funds away from Tom Foster & other community services to do this & Council has a lot better to spend their money on.  Then with much laughter & mirth, “It’s not going to make me better behaved.  I’ll be the same person I’ve been over the last 12 years & I have a long history of misbehaving in these chambers.  It’s worked well for me so far.  I’m not going to be better behaved.”

a gorgeous Morten Bay Fig in Sydney's Domain

You can see how a transcript obtained under FOI would exclude any nuances in tone of voice, laughter etc & the minutes would not include statements like the above.

Clr Kontellis said people want to be engaged about how they are governed, saying it was not about the minutes. “They want to be actively involved in the debate,” to which Clr Thanos interjected asking, “How could they be engaged when they are listening.” He received 5 “Order!” from the Chair because he would not stop interjecting.

Clr Kontellis continued saying that mums, the elderly, people with no transport & people from a NESB would be interested.  Implementing audio-streaming would allow Council to tick off a number of targets in their plan.  Clr Thanos interjected all the way through & was warned by the Chair that he would be removed from the Chamber if he did not stop.  I guess this is his idea of misbehaving & I have seen him do this a lot when the Greens are speaking.  I cannot recall him doing this to any of the other Councillors in the few meetings I have attended.

Clr Wright spoke against the proposal saying she didn’t have a problem with Council’s transparency now, citing all the places where the public can access papers, including being able to access tapes for 3 months after a meeting under FOI (which you have to pay for).  She was concerned about legal & privacy in regards to what people (not councillors) say about others when they address Council & the risk of defamation.  She also thought there wasn’t a demand for this from the community.

Clr O’Sullivan said she was concerned that neither the Councillors nor members of the community were protected by parliamentary privilege & warned that the virtual environment can be viral & toxic in many ways.  She preferred the Greek mode of democracy, which is face to face.

Clr Tsardoulias said he couldn’t support the motion “until the infrastructure is fixed up,” then said, “Even the clairvoyant who donated to the Greens wouldn’t want to watch it.  A clairvoyant wouldn’t want to watch this.”

a 'ring of Figs' planted at Tempe Reserve

Clr Byrne agreed in part with Clr Tsardoulias in regards to infrastructure needing to be fixed, but said that footpaths, night-time safety, public transport & accessibility are important & a social justice issue.  Said, “We make the community jump through hoops with FOI which makes us less responsible,” & that the legal requirements are exactly the same.  Clr Thanos spoke all the way through her speech.

Clr Peters said the audio recording didn’t have to be live & could be edited if there were any defamatory statements as is common in radio.  Said the technical term was ‘moderating the stream.’  She also said this is not an expensive technology.  It only requires a small file put onto the net.

Clr Macri said it didn’t bother him if it was done, but he was worried about the budget & “about the people who would want to sit at home & listen to this.” Also expressed concern about children listening.  I’m sure he was joking.  He went on to say there were lifts & ramps for accessibility.

Clr Hanna said, “The money will add up & the Greens will want to put the rates up.”

Clr Phillips tried to finish the debate by saying Councillors are responsible for they say.  While he was speaking the room was alive with expressions of doubt & laughter as to whether anyone would even want to listen to Council meetings.  Clr Phillps went on to say that $8,490 was not a lot of money to offer this service citing the recent $5,000 given to the Greek Orthodox Church for to quieten their bells.  He also said spending this money would increase Councils transparency & accountability & was therefore worth it.

Clr Thanos interjected saying he, “resented that his concern for fiscal concerns about things which are useless” & it was a political stunt of the Greens. “I don’t want to waste people’s money to satisfy your political concerns.” The motion was lost with the Independents & Labor voting against it.

Clr Thanos then put up a motion to reschedule Council meetings to 12noon on Sunday’s. Clr Byrne said this would incur great costs for staff time & opening up the building.  The motion was lost with all voting against it except Clrs Thanos & Hanna.

a bit of brilliant light relief from Art Express 2010 at the NSW Art Gallery showing a dog painted on a soccer ball - I love it!

Here ends my take on this month’s Business Meeting at Marrickville Council.

I find this issue of audio-streaming very interesting.  Some NSW Councils do not bother with audio-streaming which offers listening only. Instead they offer live webcasts allowing you to watch the Council meeting on your computer like you would TV.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article in 2003 saying 14 Councils were expected to have webcasting of their meetings up & running within the year.  Greater Dandenong Council in Victoria regularly had 1,000 people tuning in &  Botany Bay Council said “some meetings attract hundreds.”  The article is very interesting & covers the topic in detail from many angles.  I think it is still relevant to the issue despite being written 7 years ago.

A quick & by no means exhaustive google search showed the following:

The Councils who webcast Council Meetings deal with the issues of defamatory comments & privacy by informing all speakers & attendees both verbally & with signs that they must refrain from this type of comment & the Council’s also do not take legal responsibility for the same.  Here ends this long post.  I hope you found it interesting. J



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