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The palm trunk above the Marrickville Golf Course Club House is the new home of a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.  The white dot is a cockatoo.

Squee! Here I am!

I watched the decline & eventual death of an old palm tree behind the Marrickville Golf Course Club House with some sadness.  Trees like this don’t get replanted in my experience.

Recently, I saw something happening at this tree that delighted me.

What is left is the trunk, which is quite tall.  A pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos saw this trunk as an ideal home.  I presume they made a new hollow or modified a hollow that was starting to form with the shedding of the fronds.  Whatever way it happened, it is now a perfect hollow with a balcony & a clear view of the Cooks River & we all know the power of water views.

Behind the trunk is a large mature fig tree providing them a safe place to survey the area for any danger before entering the hollow.

In true Cockatoo style, once they realised they had my attention, the pair posed & acted out for my camera until I had enough & moved on.  They seem very proud of themselves.

Even though this tree is dead, it is an incredibly important asset in the Cooks River Biodiversity Corridor.  Trees with hollows are rare in the area, so every attempt must be given to retain this trunk.  It should not be removed to “clean up the area” or similar.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos nest in tree hollows.  Once they find a suitable hollow they stay there indefinitely.   The chicks they rear will remain with the parents as a family unit.

So, for me, discovering this hollow made up for the loss of yet another tree.  Hopefully, a new palm will be planted behind the Club House.  In the meantime, people who are aware of this pair, can have an occasional look to see if they can spot them & any chicks they are rearing.

To my mind, the Club House has been blessed with some mascots to screech & cavort above them.  What fun!

A great home with a big fig tree behind and the river in front.

Bat box built especially to house microbats.

New research published 28th July 2017 titled, ‘Bat boxes are not a silver bullet conservation tool’ is a bit alarming when it comes to the future of urban bats.  They are losing habitat at a rapid rate.  Trees with hollows are scarce enough as it is, but all run the risk of being removed by development.  Many of us think, myself included until recently, that providing a bat house will help.  However, this research has found the opposite is the reality.

The abstract says, a long-term bat-box monitoring project in south-eastern Australia, box occupancy was dominated by one common and widespread urban-adapted species, Gould’s wattled bat Chalinolobus gouldii.   In contrast, the 13 other bat species in the area made little or no use of the boxes.  Policymakers, land managers and conservation professionals working in the field of biodiversity offsets should be aware that bat boxes are unlikely to compensate adequately for the broad-scale loss of tree hollows caused by various forms of human disturbance.”  See – http://bit.ly/2hlXNRj  

Just one more reason why we must do our best to save trees, especially older trees.  The information on the time it takes for a tree to develop hollows ranges from 100-150 years.  Until recently, most articles I read stated that 150-years was the average time a tree takes to produce a hollow.  The difficulty of achieving this is obvious.  If there is no suitable hollow, there is no breeding.

National Tree Day site in Steel Park Marrickville South. All that is wood chip is the new area that was planted today. It joins last year’s site to create a continuous corridor along the river in this area.

This afternoon we went down to Steel Park Marrickville South to have a look at Inner West Council’s National Tree Day site.  I had looked at the site earlier & noticed just how big the area to be planted is in comparison to previous years.  Inner West Council decided to convert a significant area into habitat for wildlife at this location &  I think this is excellent.

Three new trees were planted –

  • Two Swamp mahoganies (Eucalyptus robusta), an Australian native that can reach up to 30-metres in height. It can live for at least 200-years.  I find exciting to have such long-lived trees planted in a park where it has a decent opportunity to reach such an age.  Fingers crossed anyway.   It flowers well in spring & summer & offers food for birds & other nectar-eating wildlife.  Christmas beetles like to eat the leaves, so hopefully we will see some of these at Steel Park.
  • One Prickly-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca styphelioides) – also an Australian native. This is a medium-sized tree that reaches between 5-11 metres in height.   It has a dense, rounded canopy with drooping branchlets & produces cream or white cylindrical bottlebrush-like flowers in summer.  It likes to grow along stream banks or other moist situations, so good for this location.

Everyone who planted today have done the whole community a service & I thank them.   It is excellent to see more places along the river that are for wildlife only & I personally, think that looking at bushy areas is far more interesting than great expanses of lawn.  The birds will come, which adds a further layer of enjoyment to users of the park.

A closer look. Each dark patch is where something was planted.

The 3 trees that were planted.  Swamp mahogany in the foreground, the Melaleuca in the middle and another Swamp mahogany in the background.  

Gardeners Road Alexandria outside Bunnings.  If you remember, this street was full of big street trees.  The fig tree in the background may have already been chopped down.  It’s not our area, but close enough to affect us. 

Carnage and much more to come.

Last week we took a trip to Bunnings in Alexandria.   I had been told that street trees had been removed in Gardeners Road, so was on the lookout.

I am never prepared for what I see.  Yes, I know that trees will be gone, but to actually see the barrenness & devastation is always quite a shock.  I am often surprised at the quality of the trees they sacrifice for wider roads, as in this case, or for development & I always wonder whether the trees could have remained if the planners had taken another approach to their designs.

As we drove up Canal Road I was concentrating on the development that is happening.  Massive high-rise apartment blocks are being built all the way to the footpath.  I can’t help but feel for the people who will be living above the belching exhaust fumes from trucks & other vehicles that clog this road.  The NSW government is telling us loud & clear that this is the future of housing in Sydney. What you are looking at is Future Sydney arriving fast.

We get to Bunnings & turned left into Bourke Road.  I was glad I was not driving because I could not rip my eyes away from the corner where a giant tree stump was laid bare & what was filled with big trees was empty.

This corner has always been glorious because of the two rows of big trees.  These were street trees & the inner row of trees that Bunnings did not rip out for parking when they took over the site so many years ago.  I have many times waited outside & watched birds while my husband shopped.

Between Gardeners Road & Bourke Road, a large amount of big fat mature trees have been chopped down.    They are widening the road here – I think to cope with the traffic that will come off WestConnex less than 1km away.

I spoke to staff at Bunnings who all expressed shock at the loss of the trees.  One said it was awful listening to all the birds when the trees were coming down.

Apparently, more trees along Gardeners Road will be removed soon, including a beautiful big old fig.  I was told that the street trees all along the eastern side of Bourke Road will also be removed.

I have cycled along the bike path on Bourke Road & it is a lovely experience.   Yes, it is a busy road, but I felt safe in the separated bicycle lane.  I also loved that a huge part of the route was in shade from the big street trees.

I think this is how all employment zones should look – green & leafy.   Soon this area will look worse than our barest street.  It is terribly sad to lose such undeniable beauty.  It will be an incredible loss of amenity that was provided by these trees &,  I imagine the impact to workers will be huge.    This story is being told all around where WestConnex enters the inner suburbs.  I think the toll is horrendous.

This is from the entrance to Bunnings to the corner of Gardeners Road. This area was full of big trees.

This is on the other side of the entrance to Bunnings. I am told these trees will be removed as well.

Bourke Road Alexandria. I was told all the trees on the right side of this image for the length of the street are to be removed. I hope this information is incorrect.

Last week Los Angeles broke a temperature record held for 131-years reaching 36.6°C (98°F).  Sydney people might laugh responding with, “It’s a good day for the beach,” but Los Angeles has an average daily temperature of 22°C (71°F), so this was an extremely hot day for them.

Los Angeles temperatures like this are expected to triple by 2050 & so the City has set a target of lowering the urban heat island effect by three degrees by 2035.  “According to CalEPA, LA has the worst urban heat island effect of any region in California.”

“Excessive heat is deadly. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, difficulty breathing, cramping and general discomfort killed more people between 1979 and 2003 than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention.”  See – http://bit.ly/2ucsUE9

Los Angeles is one of only two cities in the world who have a temperature reduction target to reduce their urban heat island effect.  The other is Melbourne.

Los Angeles plans to do the urban heat island effect by –

  • Gradually replacing roofs with reflective materials, called ‘cool roofs.’
  • Repave or repaint city streets with reflective paint.
  • Plant more trees & increase the urban forest canopy. However, they did not mention using green walls & green roofs.  Perhaps these are seen as more transient & risky compared to solid hard surfaces such as albedo paint & tiles.

It all seems elementary & doable, which offers real hope.

The city aims to install 10,000 cool roofs by the end of this year – 2017.

“Beginning in 2014, LA has had a “cool roofs” ordinance, which requires anyone building a new roof or replacing more than half of an existing roof to do so with reflective shingles.”  I wonder if the Inner West Council has any green requirements like these for any new developments or roof replacements.  The former Marrickville Council did not when The Revolution building in Marrickville was built around 2012.  At a public meeting about the building the architect said that there was no requirement to add green features, so he did not.

After a trial of painting one city street in May 2017, the City of LA has painted 7 other blocks & aim to paint a block in all 15 council districts by the end of the summer.  They obviously mean business.

In March 2016 the former Marrickville Council did a trial of solar reflecting road surface paint in Cecilia Street Marrickville.   I have no idea whether Council has released information regarding the results. See – http://bit.ly/1Pyexc7

The City of LA also has a cool pavement program, aiming to have the urban heat island effect lowered by shade from street trees.  So, less heat, better health, more beauty & more happiness.  That is excellent in my opinion.

The building on the left is a relatively new development on Unwins Bridge Road St Peters. Many in the community were upset at the DA stage because of the trees that were to be removed. The DA was approved and the building built. I passed by recently was pleasantly surprised to see 4 good sized trees had been planted in Dabur Lane as part of the development. These are not token shrubs for landscaping, which is what we often see in new developments. Once grown these trees will help provide shade & supply the beauty & other benefits that only trees can offer.

Hopefully the Queensland Brushbox trees that we have all over the municipality will cope with the changed climate since they come from Queensland.

I lived in Melbourne once.  It may have been the part of Melbourne where I lived & worked, but my impression was that Melbourne was leafier & greener than Sydney, so it was with surprise that I read the following headline – ‘A warming Melbourne may need to consider a Sydney tree-change.’ See – http://bit.ly/2tWet7g

The article shows two thermal images of Elizabeth Street Melbourne in January 2017 when the temperature was 36.7 degrees. One image shows the asphalt temperature reached 60 degrees, while the other image shows a temperature of 34.5 degrees in the shade of street trees.

University of Melbourne Clean Air and Urban Landscape research fellow David Kendal said the average temperature of the city has risen 2 degrees in the past 50 years, driven by a combination of climate change and increased development.”

Climate change projections for Melbourne predict the temperature will rise a further 3.5 degrees by 2100.

To cope with the changed conditions, tree species for streets & parks will also need to be changed to cope with the increased heat & to not create hotter urban heat islands.  The Northern European species currently planted across Melbourne will find it hard to survive, as will some Eucalyptus species that grow in the southern part of Australia.

I’ve been wondering when this issue will be addressed in Sydney, especially in the now Inner West Council municipality.  Sydney is historically 4 degrees warmer than Melbourne & we can expect the temperature to increase beyond this to a new norm.

Living in Sydney by the end of the century will be like living in Rockhampton, subtropical Queensland, if global temperatures are allowed to rise by four degrees – the current trajectory of climate change.”   I presume Rockhampton has some very different tree species than we do in Sydney.

The 2017 National Tree Day site in Steel Park is being prepared with mulch. It is a large area, approximately 50-metres long.  It will join up with last year’s planting site.  

National Tree Day is happening on Sunday 30th July 2017.  Inner West Council (Marrickville) is inviting the community to help add to the environmental work done in Steel Park at last year’s National Tree Day site.

A large area of lawn was removed & the area planted with native plants & trees.   Council wants to create connected areas of habitat along the river for wildlife to live & forage for food & this is a very good thing.

PLANTING –

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:        Steel Park Illawarra Road Marrickville beside the shared pathway along the Cooks River east of the children’s playground.

TIME:             10am – noon.

BRING:          Refillable water bottle & a hat.   Council will provide gloves, tools, watering cans/buckets, drinking water & refreshments.

FREE TREE GIVEAWAY –

Council will also be giving away free trees to increase the urban forest canopy.  The trees will be advanced sized stock (25 litre bags/300mm pots), so you will need to have the means to get the tree home & have room for it to grow in your garden.

Conditions to be eligible for a free tree are –

  • One tree per household. You will need to provide proof of address (Council rates notice or Drivers Licence).
  • Residents must obtain the necessary approvals for selecting the trees and the planting locations within the property boundary. We suggest you investigate where best to plant the tree to minimise any risks to property or people.
  • Inner West Council makes its best endeavours to provide a healthy tree with average growth height information, but makes no warranties concerning the tree.” – from Inner West Council’s website – link below.

The tree species available are all natives & all provide food for wildlife –

  • Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii ‘Red Tip Form’
  • Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia
  • Bella Donna Brachychiton populneus x acerifolius
  • ‘Dawson River Weeper’ Callistemon viminalis
  • NSW Christmas Bush Ceratopetalum gummiferum
  • Riberry Syzygium luehmannii

Council staff will be available to talk you about tree choice & how to care for it, but you can download information about the trees & their growth expectations here – http://bit.ly/2urXzdS

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:  The free trees can be collected from the southern carpark of the Debbie and Abbey Borgia Centre, entrance off Illawarra Road Marrickville.

TIME:             10am – noon.

BRING:          The trees are “advanced size,” so you will need a suitable vehicle to take your tree home.

There is also a planting event happening at Wilkins Green in Wilkins High School in Marrickville. 

“For National Tree Day, our goal is to plant out the ridgeline, which borders the western side of the Green, with native species, further increasing biodiversity for the whole of the Marrickville area and creating a wildlife corridor, or sanctuary, for native Australian fauna, who will find food and shelter within the Green.  Our long term goal is to create a native Bush Land which is self-sustaining, home to wildlife and a showcase to the wider community of what is possible in the urban landscape.”  How great is that!

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:        Wilkins Green, in Wilkins High School, corner of Livingstone & Sydneham Roads Marrickville.  Parking is available inside the school through the gate on Sydneham Road or street parking is available.

TIME:             10:00am – 2:00pm

BRING:          They ask that you wear closed toes shoes & bring gloves if you have them.  They also request that you can bring a plate of food to share afterward, as there will be a barbeque.  Refreshments will be supplied.

Many of us have got used to Sydney Park being a National Tree Day site, but it will not be this year.  Instead the main Planet Ark National Tree Day site will be with the City of Parramatta at Third Settlement Reserve in Winston Hills.  Costa the Gnome & Dirtgirl will be there, as well as all the other activities we have seen at Sydney Park over the last few years.  Over 10,000 trees, shrubs & groundcovers will be planted along the creek line in Third Settlement Reserve, which is pretty impressive.

If you are not in the Inner West on National Tree Day or you are interested in traveling to another site, there are plenty of places holding planting events.  They can be found here – http://treeday.planetark.org/find-a-site/search.cfm

A section of last years National Tree Day planting. Photo taken two days ago.  

What was a garden island in lawn is now part of a whole re-vegetated area for wildlife.  The shorter plants were planted last National Tree Day.  Photo taken two days ago.

Screenshot of ‘Health impacts of air pollution – South East Coast Greater Melbourne 2016’ – see http://bit.ly/2tu86I0

First I noticed Sydney Council was reclaiming the road corners & creating verge gardens.  Now Inner West Council is also doing this & I think it is wonderful.

I have seen a few of these popping up around Stanmore, Dulwich Hill & Marrickville, though there may be others in suburbs that I have not seen.

Claiming back land to green it up will have many benefits for the community.  Plants & a street tree will obviously soften the landscape & add beauty.  As the tree grows it will create shade, which will lower the urban heat island effect.   If it is a native tree, it will provide food for urban wildlife, which should a priority in my mind.

Street trees trap particulate matter on their leaves, thereby improving air quality & lowering air pollution levels.

The resulting impact of air pollution on the health of people is starting to gain considerable traction amongst the scientific community.  Air pollution has a tonne of negative impacts such as higher incidence of respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis & emphysema.  Lung capacity & lung function also decreases.

There is an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer, as well as heart disease in all ages, including more fatal heart attacks.  Stroke is another high risk.

Air pollution is a threat to child health with lower birth weight & the increased the risk of infection & developmental delays.  Alzheimer’s disease & other dementias are the latest significant health issues found to be linked to air pollution.  The authorities cannot dismiss air pollution considering the incredible amount of suffering & the costs associated with helping people affected by air pollution.

The photos below shows Clarendon Road Stanmore.  The corner has extensive work creating a verge garden & a large garden on what was once road.  A street tree has also been planted.  If this is the way of the future for many of our wide roads & expansive corners, it will transform the streetscapes of the former Marrickville municipality.

I think it is great that Council has started to use these spaces to add green & trees.  They will not impact on driver sight, as clearly demonstrated in neighbouring suburbs that have many more street trees then we do.  Another added benefit is that corners given this treatment may slow drivers down.  They smaller distance pedestrians need to cover to cross the road should also improve safety.

It’s a win for wildlife & a win for the community.

Clarendon Road Stanmore has been transformed.  The opposite side has a small verge garden.

I am pleased to see Council using a variety of native plants. Once grown they could offer habitat for small insects and lizards.

The Coral tree for removal is centre of this photo.

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Coral tree (Erythrina × sykesii ) inside Weekley Park, adjacent to 89 Albany Road Stanmore.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has poor vitality and significant canopy dieback.
  • Major open wound to trunk with decay and loss of structural wood.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

The Coral tree is thought to be a “hybrid of horticultural origin, that was probably developed in Australia or New Zealand.” http://bit.ly/2tsjgKC

It is regarded as a weed tree in NSW because they can regrow from a fallen branch, a twig or stem or even suckers.  Despite this, they can easily be managed in suburban areas as shown by Bayside Council who have classified a number of their old Coral trees as significant & protected.

The condition of this Coral tree in Weekley Park is as described by Council.   They say they will replace this tree with an Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) by September 2017.

While it is a shame to lose this big old Coral tree, I am pleased that it will be replaced with a native tree that puts on a great colour show & can grow to a significant size.  We need big trees.

Illawarra flame trees are native to coastal rainforests from central New South Wales to far north Queensland.  They are deciduous in winter & produce clusters of vivid red bell-shaped flowers over spring-summer, which provide food for nectar-eating birds, bees & butterflies.  Anytime an Illawarra Flame tree is added to the Inner West landscape is a win as far as I am concerned.

The deadline for submissions is this Friday 23rd June 2017.

It appears that the bark was removed to inspect the tree. You can see that it is not in great shape.

Marrickville Golf Course

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove & work on trees located in Marrickville Golf Course.

Council says it plans to do the following –

  • “Tree removal– includes the removal of several dead trees or trees present significant defects and/or structural issues.
  • The creation of habitat trees– where trees are reduced down to safe limbs and boxes and hollows are created for use by native fauna.
  • Tree pruning– to remove defective or dead branches to reduce risk.”

Council do not give the location or number of trees to be removed.  We should be told about each individual tree & why they must be removed.

Nor do they give the number & location of trees they intend to prune or those they intend to make into Habitat Trees.    Council goes on to say that –

“All trees to be removed will be replaced (and more) as part of a planting program to be developed in collaboration with Council, Marrickville Golf Course and the community.”

Again, Council does not tell the community how many new trees will be planted or what species.

This is not something I understand.  I think it is in Council’s interest to tell the community how many trees they will plant because this is positive information that makes people who care about the local environment happy.  If Council had informed the community that they planned to plant 15 new native trees for example, everyone would feel happy about it, which is good for Council.

It is called transparency.  It is their duty.  Open & full communication is the only thing that instills trust in the community for what its government does.   You can’t have words about believing in open government & consultation, but fail to inform your community.

On a positive note, I think it is wonderful that more habitat trees are being created, especially in this important biodiversity corridor along the Cooks River.   I also think it is great that more trees will be planted.  The golf course has plenty of room for more trees.

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