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1.        A horrific article about the city of Cancún in Mexico where the climate change

Verge full of roses on Burwood Rd Burwood. It's next to open land so I think it's likely that Burwood Council has done this. Note the street trees in the background.

summit was just held. 25 people died when a build-up of methane gases from the rotting mangrove forest buried below the hotel where they were staying blew up.  It attracted my attention because of the methane from the Tempe tip land that is being developed.  What was once a small fishing village, Cancún now gets 7 million visitors a year.  Massive development removed most of the mangroves & the area paved & concreted, then built. Sewerage is deep injected underneath the drinking water aquifer, but is now seeping into the aquifers & into the ocean & damaging the nearby Mesoamerican reef system, the second biggest coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef.  This is a story of ecological disaster due to overdevelopment & is interesting reading.

2.         The community is campaigning to prevent the Los Angeles County from removing 179 coast live oaks & about 70 Sycamores in an 11-acre canyon area so they can spread 500,000 cubic yards of silt, rocks & vegetation scooped out of Santa Anita Reservoir.  Many of the trees are 100-years-old & the coast live oaks are not common anymore. “How do you replace a 100-year-old oak tree with a sapling?”,0,1304653.storypling?”

3.         The English government has established the Big Tree Plant campaign. They are about to spend £4.2 million on planting 1 million trees across urban areas over the next 4 years.  They are targeting deprived areas saying the trees will improve the quality of people’s lives.  It is almost an accepted wisdom that a property positioned on a pretty tree-lined street surrounded by shrubbery is more appealing than its counterpart on a concrete-clad bare & barren road.” This article speaks about the benefits of trees on wellbeing, mental & physical health, less graffiti, dumping, vandalism & other things.

4.         Community tree group Friends of Trees in Portland US launched a pilot program to help low-income seniors take care of fallen leaves. Community volunteers rake the leaves & take them to a recycling facility helping people who have trouble doing this themselves.  I think it is a great idea. Not only is it community minded, but it would also help remove anxiety about the ‘mess’ made by fallen leaves.  Leaf litter is high on the list of reasons given why trees are removed from gardens.

5.         Johannesburg, known as the ‘largest man-made forest in the world’ has 6 million trees. Imagine. In contrast Soweto a township of Johannesburg has very few. The Soweto Greening Project is trying to remedy this by planting 6,000 trees since 2006.  Their eventual aim is to plant 200,000 trees in Soweto.  For comparison, it is estimated that we have 20,000 trees in Marrickville LGA.

6.         Research by the University of Florida has found that ants play a central role in stopping animals from eating trees, including elephants. “Swarming groups of ants that weigh about 5 milligrams each can & do protect trees from animals that are about a billion times more massive.”

7.         The US Geological Survey Texas Water Quality Centre in Austin has found that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) used in surface sealers based on coal tar are responsible for the large increase in organic pollutants in lakes, rivers, & streams over the past 40 years. “The thick tarry sealers are widely used in the US to coat blacktop driveways, parking lots & paved portions of playground.” PAHs are known to be carcinogenic.

8.         A wonderful article debating the Ocean Beach Forrester’s 3 arguments to

Water Dragon. You don't see these often

remove a healthy Torrey Pine because it is leaning toward the road.  “How odd.  Instead of thinking of creative ways to rebuild this sidewalk & save this tree, that is an endangered species, the city is thinking of creative ways to scare people into thinking the tree will fall over & must come out.”  “… that tree is about 80 feet tall. And, the root systems on these trees are two & a half times their height. At 80 feet tall (23.4 metres), the root system on this tree would be substantial. Fall over? Break maybe if you hit it with a tank! A tree rooted like that isn’t falling; it’s leaning.  This tree needs to live because we need our trees. There is no compelling reason to kill this one. We can live around the trees. Our zeal for organization & straight lines needs to allow for some deviations, some curves. Beyond that, this is a living thing & cutting it down would be killing it just to make our lives a little easier.” I think this article could be confronting to many Councils in Australia.

9.         A very interesting article from the Seattle Displacement Coalition about

The darker skin is being shed. You can see this happening around his legs & side. The greenish tinge is his new skin

the upcoming Council elections in 2011.  They cover many issues. This is some of what they said about trees. I think it’s applicable here.  As we come out of the economic downturn, we need mechanisms in place to preserve our trees, green space, affordable housing & the physical & social character of our neighborhoods — the things that make this city livable — before growth accelerates again to the runaway levels we experienced before the recession hit. There’s something wrong with advocating for open space preservation outside the city but once across the city line, aiding & abetting the pouring of concrete & wiping out of trees, stamping out every last vestige of nature for urban dwellers outside of parks. Good stewardship of our environment begins right here in our own neighborhoods, protecting our trees, preserving space for essential urban gardening, saving urban streams….”

10.      The following comes from an Editorial in the Glen Ridge Voice in

Kudos to this pub in Eastlakes that kept this mature tree & incorporated it into its renovations

response to a recent Tree Commission about overseeing the health & well-being of the borough’s publicly-owned shade trees. I have lifted a section that again demonstrates the difference in the way Americans view public trees. In return, we encourage the public to heed some of the borough’s advice about tree care – don’t pile up too much mulch around the base, go easy on the fertilizer use & keep the weed-whackers away from the tree (those things really hurt). And please, ask questions & raise concerns if you have them.  We can’t say it enough: Gen Ridge needs its trees. After all, it is a tree that forms part of the town’s seal, along with the equally iconic gas lamps. We call upon the council & the shade tree commission’s members to do right by those trees & the people who benefit from them.” Inspiring words.

11.      Trees take up air space. 3 Pin oak trees are the centre of a row where the company that owns the 1st story of a garage & the air space want the trees removed because they ‘could damage the property.’ The garage, (ground floor) is owned by the state. Neither the state nor the community wants the healthy trees removed except the company that owns the airspace.

12.      The full-length indie film ‘The Future of Food’ by Deborah Koons Garcia provides an overview of the key questions raised by consumers as they become aware of genetically modified foods.” You can watch ‘The Future of Food’ for free by clicking here –

The Red Flowering Gums are coming into flower. The birds & bats love them. This is a burgundy colour version. They should be used as street trees more often

* Bankstown Council discovered 3 large gums in Greenacre Heights Reserve had holes drilled into them, poisoned & killed.   The Land & Environment Court can fine anyone caught poisoning trees up to $1million.

* 12 residents are considering legal action against Hills Shire Council for severely cutting back 15 Tallowood trees in Gooden Reserve.

* 10 mature healthy trees will be removed from Glenmore Road Public School in Woollahra LGA for the erection of a hall & a shed as part of the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution program upsetting residents.  One particularly large tree will be chopped down for a garden shed.

* An amazing story where the community in West Sacramento trying to save a massive old Butternut tree may take the issue to court.  The tree has a girth measuring 6.7 metres (22 feet) & lives in the “ideal spot for a sewer pump …” Unbelievable.

fern fronds

* Not trees, but I wanted to share anyway. 50 healthy adult Canadian geese were taken from Rapid City’s Canyon Lake Park by the Game Fish & Parks Department & euthanized.  The Canada geese are migratory birds that fly to Canyon Lake.  The Game Fish & Parks Department estimates that between 300-500 Canadian geese call Canyon Lake home this time of year. The number surges around Christmas to the thousands, which is too many for some.

So at a large & beautiful lake, people come with food to feed the geese. The geese think this is great & they come to the mowed shoreline & waggle up to the people who have come to feed them.  Then the geese poop on the grass & cement paths. The people get mad. “I can’t have poop on my shoe!” The authorities come in & start culling the geese. To be fair, the authorities have had a 10 year ban on feeding the geese & even had a $5 fine if caught, but for some reason, this hasn’t deterred people.

* The Urban Forestry Administration for Washington DC has called for community assistance to water street trees during the country’s heat wave. While UFA crews are watering all 3,500 new trees we planted this year, we are calling on District residents & businesses to help water street trees close to their homes & offices. Together, we can ensure that these taxpayer-funded assets provide their full environmental, economic, & social benefits for years to come.  It takes less than 10 minutes a week to fill the free slow-drip watering device provided by the city to any individual who adopts street trees through UFA’s Canopy Keepers program. Washington DC has 140,000 trees around the city.

Gum nuts

* A date for your diary – The 2nd Walk Against Warming will take place on –

  • Sunday 15 August 2010 starting at 12 noon
  • Meet at Belmore Park (next to Central Station).

Together, we will remind government that we’re doing our bit on climate change. We’re working hard to reduce greenhouse pollution. We’re saving water & energy. We’re buying greenpower. We’re forming climate action groups. It’s time for the government to do their bit.

* The UK Environment Secretary said, If any organism has demonstrated an ability to multi-task, it’s trees. She added that in some parts of inner London, it was calculated that each tree was deemed to be worth as much as £78,000 in terms of its benefits. The Woodland Trust is also launching the More Trees More Good campaign & plan to plant 20 million native trees across the UK every year for the next 50 years.

* Stunningly imaginative, the Memorial Plaza design at Ground Zero NYC intends to use harvested stormwater for 400 Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) & Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) trees in suspended pavement system. The paving of the plaza will rest on a series of pre-cast concrete tables that “suspend” the Plaza over troughs of planting soil that run the full width of the Plaza. 

The suspended paving system will allow the soil to remain uncompacted, since the paving that people walk on is separated from the planting soil below.

* The National Highway Authority of India plans to chop down 16,000 trees, some over 100-years old, along the picturesque two-lane roadway between Thalapady & Kundapur to make it a four-lane stretch.

* Andy Kenney a senior lecturer on urban forestry at the University of Toronto & one of his former students has launched a program called Neighbourwoods to train citizens how to do tree inventories in their neighbourhood. “We wanted to see if we could get volunteers to engage in urban forestry beyond tree planting.

* New Orleans has a policy of allowing street trees to grow regardless of cracking to footpaths & road surfaces. To see what they allow their trees to become click on the link.

* The Washington DC Tree Act protects trees with a circumference of 55 inches or more classifying them as Special Trees. Fines for damaging or removing a tree of this size is a minimum of US$5,500. I mention this because they protect trees that would be classified as ordinary.

* Detroit USA is reinventing itself now that half the population has gone leaving behind 33,000 empty lots & vacant houses.  Like in no other city in the world, urban farming has taken root in Detroit, not just as a hobby or a sideline but as part of a model for a wholesale revitalisation of a major city. Some farms are the product of hardy individualists or non-profit community groups. Others, like Hantz Farms, are backed by millions of dollars and aim to build the world’s biggest urban farm right in the middle of the city.

* The US is covering car parks with solar panels, not only to protect the cars from the sun, but to use the space to create clean energy.  I predict this will be commonplace before long.

Camelia in full bloom

Whenever I look at this photo I think of love - "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" kind of family love

I found a fabulous article by Brian Sewell: My plea to save the London tree -Everywhere the birds are nesting, but still the tree men come — surgeons they dub themselves, but butchers, despoilers, ravagers & rapists are terms that suit far better these barbarians at the garden gate. Mature trees are supposed to be inviolate, protected by preservation orders & even the most necessary & responsible pruning requires the display of notices of intent & consent from local planners, but these often useless safeguards are easily ignored.  Last week, to the north of my garden, down came a lofty eucalyptus, & to the south, a spreading Atlantic cedar, but not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, & within minutes they were altogether gone.

And further into the article – Developers fell them to crowd extra houses on a site, supermarkets to accommodate superstores, railways to keep leaves from the lines & local councils for safety reasons that are often absurd. We should cherish them & for every one felled, we should plant two.

There is a photo of the Royal Oak in Richmond Park estimated to age between 700 & 800 years old. This is amazing in itself as Oaks seldom survive past 600 years. The tree has huge split in its trunk that has got to be more than 2 metres long. Amazingly the local Council hasn’t chopped it down. They put a park bench right next to it instead.

To Papua New GuineaAn article from The Guardian says – The forests of Papua New Guinea are being chopped down so quickly that more than half its trees could be lost by 2021. Mostly the deforestation is done by multinational logging companies.  Satellite imaging has recorded the loss of rainforest since the 1970s.  Like many other poorer countries, Papua New Guinea says – rich countries should pay them to protect their forests as a way of tackling climate change. Personally I think this is a good idea & the only fair thing to do.  There is quite a strong movement coming from the UN to turn countries into ‘forest guardians’ rather than forest loggers. Papua New Guinea is the home to the world’s 3rd largest tropical forest so their contribution in the management of climate change is significant.

To Canada now where Trees Ontario is about to reach a total of 10 million trees planted in Ontario since 2004.  65 tree planting agency partners & over 2,000 landowners were responsible for planting the trees across the province.  The program started in 2004 when Trees Ontario and 2 agency partners planted 42,000 trees in 4 sites throughout the year. The year was so successful many other agencies joined. Six years later 65 agencies are involved, plus landowners.

In August 2007 the Ontario government started the 50 Million Trees program as part of its commitment to help fight climate change and green the province.   They plan to achieve this by 2020 just 10 years away.  Trees Ontario plans to plant 10 million trees per year by 2015 with the help of the government as part of its 50 Million Trees program.  Fantastic stuff.

I admit I don't know what this sign means

Madagascar is home to the very precious & protected Rosewood tree. Unfortunately it is being illegally logged almost to extinction for Chinese business, who use the wood primarily to make replicas of antique furniture & musical instruments. You can see furniture made out of this wood in Sydney.  Trees with similar grain across Asia have been depleted so the forests of Madagascar are now being targeted. Estimates of the value of Rosewood trees felled over the past 12 months are $167 million or more. Serious money & without serious intervention it is highly likely the Rosewood will be logged to extinction unless people across the world decide on a policy of ethical shopping.  It is happening for coffee & chocolate, so why not Rosewood furniture, musical instruments & ornaments?

In the last week of May 2010, 52 nations attended a conference in Oslo & “agreed on a non-binding framework to funnel aid promised by the rich world & set up monitoring standards to ensure money flows are based on solid results. Such frameworks are known as Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation & Degradation) programmes.”

According to the UN world global deforestation is responsible for more than the CO2 caused by vehicles, trains & planes. Each year forests the equivalent to the size of England are chopped down.  tp://

In May 2010 research led by Professor Corey Bradshaw, of the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute found Australia was ranked as 7th worst in habitat conversion, 9th worst in fertilizer use & 10th worst in natural forest loss taking out overall 9th place of the 10 worst countries for environmental impact. I find this shameful.

“…since European colonisation we’ve lost over half of our forests & the ones that remain are largely fragmented, so we have done quite a bit of damage.” said Professor Bradshaw.

Casurina branch - the Cockatoos like to eat the seeds

The city of Seattle in the US is making significant changes to their urban agriculture guidelines for 2010, which is also the Year of Urban Agriculture.  I think this is of interest here, as world trends are starting to consider food-growing sources should be closer to cities because of transport costs, global warming, pollution & drought.  Seattle has a number of items in their guidelines including allowing more community gardens & urban farms in residential areas as well as on the top & sides of buildings (how exciting) & allow up to 8 female chickens per residence.

Campus Road Community Garden, a more-than-6,000-square-foot community garden on the grounds of Brooklyn College in New York was to be paved over to make way for the expansion of an athletic field. (How this works I haven’t quite worked out). Instead a Judge blocked Brooklyn College from commencing this work & the case will go before the court on 25th June 2010.  Perhaps the community will get to keep their substantial community garden that has operated since 1997.

In Manchester USA insurance company The Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Co is suing a Council for negligence. They say the Council Tree Warden & the Council were “negligent & careless because the tree was not inspected & removed before falling” on the home of residents on 6 April  2009. The Council disputes this saying they inspected the tree & arrangements were made to chop it down 2 days before it fell on the house.  Now that’s bad luck.,0,1190967.story

Not quite related, but interesting regardless, a 29 year old woman, who had been living in the Cambodian jungle since 1989 & was rescued in 2007, has escaped her family to return back into the jungle.



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