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No street trees in this street in Marrickville

This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clrs Hanna & Iskandar.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  So much of importance happened in the meeting so I will cover it over 2-3 posts.  This post is about the budget for 2011-2012.

Adoption of Integrated Planning & Reporting Framework documents –  You can download these papers here (Item 16) – http://bit.ly/l7UjyU  This item was under the confidential items which would mean that the Gallery would not be able to hear the debate or know the outcome.  Clr Thanos debated whether this was appropriate & said the Gallery should be able to stay.  Thankfully, the Councillors agreed to this.

Mayor Byrne tabled her Mayoral Budget for 2011/2012 which includes all points in the budget report, plus the following items of expenditure–

  • $30,000 addition to tree planting
  • $50,000 create a Sustainable Streets grant pool for community bush pockets & verge gardens
  • $15,000 for additional bike hoops at Sydenham Railway Station, Marrickville Railway Station & Addison Road.
  • $10,000 for picnic set of table & chairs for the corner of Seaview Street & Marrickville Road.
  • $40,000 for partition switches for football field lighting

Mayor Byrne:  We are signaling to the community that this is a priority. If we have the funds, we should give the staff the okay to start works.

Clr Macri: I like to see work [that will happen] on the rundown Marrickville Station & the extra bike parking at the stations & Addison Road is needed.  Staff: Re: graffiti funding – it will mean going back on some service levels. We’ve been engaging contractors. We were hoping to continue this, but now not able to do this. Each year we fund part of our capital works from loans, so will borrow more in 2012 & less the next year.

Clr Wright: I’m disappointed re the removal of $145,000 for graffiti removal. I do think it will cause angst in the community, as we will offer less services. Perhaps there will be a groundswell. I understand Sydenham Station is to be upgraded so I hope we don’t put bike-parking hoops until the works are completed.  I’m disappointed I can’t support the budget in totality because of the Mayor’s changes.

Clr Thanos: There is a large benefit to the community to get these programs up & running. I’m looking forward to seeing the review of Aged Care Services next month. They are the most vulnerable in the community without a doubt.  Aged Care Services is groaning under the demand. The graffiti budget could triple our capacity for Aged Services.  Staff: The long-term financial plan shows that in the next 10 years Council should double its money for Meals on Wheels & other services. In the next 4-8 weeks we will be looking at a review of our services. I want to convene a meeting with other Aged Care service providers to see what they intend to do, as well as Council.

Clr O’Sullivan: I can’t support the Mayor’s budget. Disappointed about removal of graffiti funds & think many residents will be shocked at this. I know graffiti is a never-ending spiral. I resent the constant attempts to push back Labor’s approach. Labor councilors strongly support a public domain management to community art.  All Labor [Councillors] will not support the budget.

Clr Peters: Lighting costs in Marrickville LGA is massive. This will give us the opportunity to turn off the lights when they are not being used. We could seek to include solar offsets for sports grounds as possible. (This was added to the amendment).   Clr Kontellis:  We are trying to use the $145,000 to create a range of impacts out of an $80,000,000 budget. This money is piddling. The picnic table is to help older people by creating a bit of space for people to meet. I don’t believe putting money into graffiti [removal] is a way to go – prevention rather than cure.

Clr Macri: Good budget, tight, lots of cuts. $400,000 moving into current budget. I’d like to see work on the Marrickville RSL site first.  Staff: We don’t borrow until we need it.  Clr Macri: Graffiti reduction has lifted the spirits of the area. In the budget, $50,000 for tree planting every year. In this budget, $60,000 for street trees & an extra $30,000 for park trees, plus the Mayor’s budget of an extra $30,000.  $200,000 allocated to do a Tree Inventory. Staff can’t tell me how many trees we have. Now they are going to plant more trees without knowing how many we have. I’m not in favour of not lighting the full football fields as they are well used.  Graffiti removal is probably the way to go. I won’t support the budget. The tree issue is a real concern for me. We are going the wrong way. The money could be used elsewhere.

Clr Olive: Community has been asking for work on Marrickville Station for a long time.  We spend $240,000 (per year) on graffiti removal.  Increasing the tree canopy is in the Tree Strategy Policy & the best way to increase the canopy is to plant trees.  We can go for a Tree Register that takes 2 years or plant trees now.

Clr Tsardoulias: Won’t support the Mayor’s amendments (to the budget). I did a letterbox drop & got 246 replies. Roads, graffiti & garbage were in the top 5. This budget is cut, cut, cut. We need an asset tree management put in place before planting $160,000 trees.  Trees need to be planted in the right location. Waste Services $100,000 shortfall. Does this mean job cuts? Staff: We changed the priority into recycling so not paying tipping fees. No staff cuts.  Clr Tsardoulias: What happened to the temporary Illegal Dumping Officer?

Mayor Byrne:  $219,904 for illegal dumping. It’s a balanced budget.  We have phones that can switch off lights on every field.  Clr Tsardoulias:  There are safety issues for dog walkers & sports people. There is an issue for the table on that corner. There is double the seats on Canterbury Road & they are under-utilized. The chairs stop disabled access. Those trees at $160,000 is a waste of money because we need the right balance in the right time.

Mayor Byrne:  Clr Thanos is right; the migrant elderly are becoming a more isolated community. My understanding is that the LAC Meeting had a $60,000 position for a co-ordinator for graffiti. At the moment, we remove graffiti, but are not putting anything in place to do something about it.  Trees are long-term sustainable assets. The table & seats near the notice board does not create access issues. The corner of Canterbury Road is busy – who wants to sit there? But the Seaview Street site is right in the middle of the shops. All these points (on the budget) are long-term & some are cost saving.

Vote: Against – Clrs Macri, Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan. For – Clrs Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis, Byrne & Thanos. The Mayor’s amendments with the budget were passed.   Here ends Part 1. More tomorrow.

Not a tree to be seen in this street in St Peters or on the skyline.

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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

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 have just seen an Apple application for iPhone called Trees Near You.  It has been created specifically for the streets of New York, so of no use here in Sydney.  The phone application allows you to go to any location in New York & find the name of any street tree.

A nice looking branch of a Brushbox street tree, unusual because tree branches in this LGA are not usually allowed to grow sideways

You are provided with a photo of the tree, including close up of leaves & any flowers.  The horticultural name is provided as well as details about the behaviour of the tree, its growth patterns, its current trunk size & most importantly, its visual, environmental & economic value to the community in terms of how much CO2 it sequesters, how much oxygen it produces, how much storm water runoff it collects  & how much energy it saves.  All these facts are calculated into dollars each tree actually saves the community.

The monetary value of street trees can be calculated for an individual tree, a street, a block, an area, the city or the whole state.

What is interesting to me is that the demo video shows just how many trees are planted in each city street.  I did not watch the whole video, just long enough to understand how the application worked.  The part that I watched concentrated on streets in New York City, which we all know to be high-density living.

Even in New York City the street trees are planted close to each other, much closer together than in Marrickville LGA.  There also seems to be a greater variety of tree species & most certainly taller growing trees. Their green canopy is far greater than ours.

NYC is constantly planting new street trees to reach their goal of 1 million new street trees.  They already have 500,000 street trees just in this small island.

The other thing that is interesting about this application is that the information was derived from street census data & made available to the public by the city government. This means they did a Tree Inventory, something I think Marrickville Council should do as a priority.  The city government believed that the public were involved enough to actually want this information made available to them.

Oh, how I wish the same were happening here.  Apple would not have spent money creating an application such as this if they did not think there would be a demand for it.  This is further indication that the people of New York are interested in their street trees & value them highly.

This application could be taken further by colouring in red those trees that are earmarked for removal or have been removed, but not replaced.  The reasons could be provided & I would guess this would result in more people in the community electing to actively support the retaining of healthy trees.

I think it would also deter property owners from applying to have the street tree out front removed for whatever reason, be it assumed root damage, unwanted shade, obstruction of views, dropping of leaves, noise made by the branches moving in the wind or annoyance at wildlife living in the tree.

An application like this documenting the street trees in Marrickville LGA would help SOT immensely.  All that information at my fingertips, it’s a dream!  Hurry up Apple and please, make it available for computer use!  It would probably be useful for Council as well.

I have been following with great interest developments around the world concerning climate change & the value of trees.  Every climate change expert has been seriously & loudly advocating that we immediately stop large-scale logging in forests. They are also advising that we embark on mass reforestation world-wide, citing this as the most effective means of soaking up the dangerous levels of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere & preventing run-away climate change.  Of course there are other interventions, such as stopping the use of coal for power, but trees are universally recognised as an essential component in the management of climate change & the prevention of species extinction, including human beings.

There is a also a increasing push for rich countries to pay for the preservation of old growth forests which are currently being logged or burnt at alarming rates.  The Amazon Rain Forest, long regarded as the ‘lungs of the world,’ is one forest the existence of which is deemed essential to preserving life on this planet because it removes billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere & stores it as carbon.

There is also a plethora of information coming out about the value of trees in the urban setting.  Again, the experts say that we must plant more trees in our cities & that we should be doing it now.

The climate change experts say we need to plant substantial trees with large trunks & substantial canopies, as these tree species are the most effective at sequestering & storing CO2.  Small stature trees with thin trunks & branches are not nearly as effective in CO2 sequestration as large trunk trees & should be used when there are no other options.  However, you just need to visit a intensely built suburb like Balmain or Paddington to realise that large trees can survive well in small spaces & the buildings do not fall down as a result of large trees planted near them.

My reading has shown there is a marked difference in attitude regarding trees between Australia & most of the world with the difference most noticeable with America.

Americans love their trees & it is quite common for a local community to come together to protest the removal of any tree within the urban landscape.  Tree removal & pruning is reported widely in American news.

I came across this lovely sign in a Camperdown park

Read any article about trees in the local news throughout America & you will find many comments left by readers, sometimes into the hundreds.  The community is highly engaged when it comes to trees & not just concerning street & park trees.  Americans with no particular affiliations & of all ages routinely protest the proposed pruning of trees in back roads, the removal of a lone 100 year old tree sitting next to a railway line, the removal of street trees because of pavement movement or development & even the lowering of the green canopy by new home owners who remove trees on their property.

In New York state a number of counties have invoked Ordinances which prevent developers from clear-cutting lots for housing, a practice which is done routinely in Australia.  Counties are also preventing people who have newly bought into the area from cutting down trees on their property stating that this action changes the character of the town.  They say it is unacceptable for people buy into an area because it looks good, then proceed to make the area look bad by cutting down the trees on their property & even asking that the street trees be removed as well.

In one County in New York both the community & the Governing bodies because upset when they realised the green canopy had decreased.  Now there are strict town codes preventing the removal of trees & hefty fines for those who chop first & ask questions later.  The County knows who have chopped down trees on their property not only because of reporting from neighbours, but also, because they have done a tree inventory & this is monitored on a regular basis.

Significant proof is required if residents accuse trees of causing damage.  All trees cut down on private property have to be immediately replaced.  There are also strict requirements about the species of tree that is required to be planted in the place of a tree that has been removed.  A property owner cannot cut down a large tree & replace it with a small growing tree unless they have accepted proof as to why this is necessary & they certainly cannot elect to not plant a replacement tree without good reason.

I highly doubt they allow pruning of street trees done by residents to ensure a tree doesn’t grow, a practice that is reasonably common in the streets of Marrickville LGA.

The community is educated about the benefits of trees from school upwards.  There may be significant debate & denial about anthropogenic climate change in America, but most people know that trees collect storm runoff, prevent soil erosion, remove pollutants from the air & raise property values.  Neither the community nor the Governing bodies are willing to allow what they openly term ‘tree haters’ to remove trees without good reason.  They believe that trees belong to the community & should be protected by the community.  They also strongly believe that trees are vital to the community’s well being.

We often follow America in our likes & customs.  I am hoping that a general love, knowledge & appreciation of trees become the norm in our society.  If the climate change scientists are correct, we don’t have too long because we need trees now more than we ever have in the known history of mankind & trees take decades to grow to the size needed to be effective in removing & storing CO2 from our atmosphere.   We need to start now.

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