This page is a collection of posts that offer ideas on how to increase the tree canopy in Marrickville LGA especially ones which encourage participation from the community.

____________________________________________________ Reading Marrickville Matters clearly shows that Marrickville Council, which has a reputation for being a green council, (programs not political parties) is actually becoming greener.  Council is clear in its belief in climate change & is encouraging the community to make changes & become involved to help the climate.  Marrickville Council already has quite a number of environmental programs that encourage the community to become involved.  They are Stream Watch, Marrickville Landcare Group, Friends of the Cooks River Valley Garden, Friends of Camperdown Cemetery, Marrickville Community Nursery & participation in National Tree Day & Clean Up Australia Day.

Eucalypt street tree

I’ve been thinking of ways to get more trees planted in our LGA.  Not only more trees, but trees planted in the right places, where there is no need for Energy Australia to touch them, because I think it is very important for our LGA to have more tall trees with a natural canopy.  I also believe every community needs to be encouraged & supported to plant trees.  However, it’s all well & good to think of methods, but these cost money, so Council needs to be financially supported to plant more trees beyond the allowance which comes out of our rates payment.

I have listed a number of ideas some of which are already implemented over-seas while others appear to have come from the deep recesses of my own mind.  I have been very brief & have not addressed potential problems such as vandalism.

ADOPT A TREE  – I discovered a charity where one could ‘adopt a word’ for charity the cost of around A$50.  This was a surprisingly brilliant idea by some creative person. It is quite successful & people are buying words.  If people enthusiastically embrace a program where they get a word, imagine how much more fulfilling it would be to adopt a living, breathing, beautiful green tree, which you & your family could watch grow over the years & hopefully the generations.  For me to buy a word, I would have to want to

Banksia - small street tree

support the charity.  But to buy a tree would require no other particular reason & is far more tangible than a word.  Maybe others in our community would feel the same.

Council can generate further funds to plant trees by establishing an ‘Adopt a Tree’ program.  This could allow Council to plant a greater number of trees within the LGA.  The money may allow Council to plant larger saplings, as they do in New York City, which will give the trees a better chance of survival.  A ceremony inviting all the ‘Adopters’ could be held & a plaque could be put in place.  I think that programs like this would support Councils financially & would allow the establishment of small urban forests.

Council could provide a certificate of ‘ownership’ of the tree, giving details of the tree species, interesting facts about the particular tree, estimates about how much CO2 the tree sequesters annually as its trunk grows & the location where it was planted.  The cost of this could be factored in to the cost of adopting a tree.

‘Adopters’ could be encouraged to look after the tree while it is very young & until it is established.  An instructional pamphlet can be part of the package.  I can quite easily imagine a family taking a walk to water their new sapling or schools doing the same.

GIFTS CERTIFICATE FOR A TREE – We can go to a nursery to buy a tree for someone as a present, but imagine if we could buy a public tree from Council.  Council could plant the tree for us or hold regular planting days when we each plant our own tree.  This program could be similar as adopting a tree with certificates of ownership as already discussed.


Sapling planted with an ag-pipe to facilitate watering down to the roots

dates that Council could promote to encourage the community to participate in the planting of a grove of trees.  Council could be more formal by planting a Commemorative Avenue of trees.  Speeches go well with events like these as does school involvement, burying a time capsule, laying of a Foundation Stone etc.  These dates could increase a sense of belonging & pride in our community.

CREATING A MEMORIAL GROVE WHERE TREES COULD BE PLANTED TO HONOUR OUR LOVED ONES, OUR FAMILY, FRIENDS OR PETS – Cemeteries are filled with beautiful trees, but for most of us, they are not nice places to be.  I remember my parents planting a tree when a relative died. From then on the tree was referred to as Grandma’s tree or so & so’s tree.  This is a nice tradition & can provide a feeling of continuity & help lessen the loss people feel.  As the tree grows they can remember the loved one with good feelings.

I think it would be nice if we were able to purchase a tree to be planted in a memorial grove somewhere in Marrickville LGA.  It could work on the same principles as the Adopt a Tree & the gift certificate, but with appropriate changes.

Again, this could be made into a community event & my mind boggles with all the nice things that could be done to make this occasion into a life affirming ritual.  There is no reason why it couldn’t be extended to tree plantings to honor the death of our pets.  For many of us, our pets are like our children & when they die, we grieve heavily.

The memorial grove would be a nicer place to visit than a cemetery, as it will be filled with life rather than with death.

If appropriate, Memorial Avenues could be created.  Small stone markers or a cheaper option of maps could permanently locate the person or animal the tree is dedicated to.  A interactive map accessible on Council’s web-site could be created.  This idea could be taken further by inserting information about the person’s life, which would serve to document our history for future generations.

TREE PLANTING AWARD – Like the Spring Garden Competition, perhaps there could be an award for a citizen who is planting lots of trees in Marrickville LGA.  Maybe this is already happening within Council.

REBATES FOR PLANTING TREES OVER A CERTAIN SIZE ON PRIVATE LAND – Perhaps Council can offer rebates to residents who plant tall growing trees on their property like a ‘CO2 capture reward.’

mature Eucalypt street tree

MONITORING THE TREE CANOPY VIA GOOGLE – Council can involve & educate the community by doing regular monitoring of the tree canopy through internet programs such as Google.  The percentage of the canopy can be reported on at regular intervals.  I think this information may possibly encourage people to plant more trees on their property.  It may also create a sense of pride & ownership of the tree canopy.

GREENER CHRISTMAS TREES – There is a debate over which is the more carbon-friendly, a fake Christmas tree which you use over & over again or a live Christmas tree which captures CO2 while it is growing.  Generally, with the live tree option, the tree lasts about 3 weeks & then it is put out with Council’s clean-up.  This must cost Council a lot of money each Christmas.

I think there is a better option.  Marrickville Council’s nursery at Addison Road could grow Christmas trees in pots & sell them to the public in December each year.  The buyer could either plant the tree in their garden or re-pot when necessary & bring it inside for use every Christmas. Council’s nursery can take orders earlier in the year if there is concern that there will be trees that haven’t been purchased.

Personally, I would not just stick to pine tree species, but would offer a range of trees that could be used as a Christmas tree.  We use triangle shaped pine trees because of the European influence, yet we can just as easily adopt an Australian native species of tree & do the Christmas tree in our own quintessential Australian way.

I AM A VOLUNTEER CARETAKER OF THE STREET TREE OUT FRONT – Marrickville council has said it loses around 95% of its new saplings planted.  Many of these young street trees die from lack of water.  The nearest house or business owner could be asked to be a volunteer caretaker of the tree. Council could give them a watering can with information on how much water & how often they should water the tree. Council could also have a program where they provide a highly visible sticker that can be put in the shop window indicating they are caretakers of the street trees with much thanks from Council & the community.  Something like ‘I am a volunteer caretaker of the street tree/s outside this business.’  People notice these things & I believe it would have a positive influence on patronage of the business.

APPRECIATION AWARDS – Council could have Community Appreciation Awards each year to those people & businesses that kept the street trees alive.  People like to be thanked & they also like to do something positive that helps the community.  For businesses, I think this type of recognition would be good for their professional reputation because a large percentage of the community cares about green issues these days.

COMMUNITY TREE PLANTING GROUPS – In 2009 I attended a one-off tree-planting event that was jointly organized by a local climate change/environment group. Randwick Council supported it by advertising the event & supplying 1200 trees, spades & other planting equipment. They also supervised the planting.

Around 100 people turned up with adults & children planting trees over a couple of hours followed by a B-B-Q. Perhaps Randwick Council provided that as well.    It was a lovely event & everyone felt as though they had achieved something good for the environment & for the future.  Randwick Council intended to continue to water the trees until they were established.

The people who participated can go back to the site & show their children how the trees are developing & every time they pass this area, know they were instrumental in greening this area.  I know it will be a good feeling.

Recently Council removed old cement & left a much larger area of garden space. They planted Bottle Brush saplings, native grasses & Pig Face. In a couple of years, this once cement-only area will look great.

Friends of the Trees in Portland USA, a grass roots community group has planted 16,764 trees & shrubs over a 12-month period during 2009.  Of these, 4,526 were large trees.  They were planted in parklands & on streets.  Portland has immense pride in its tree canopy though it wasn’t always like this.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we had such a group in Marrickville LGA?  Right now we have around 20,000 public trees & Council plants around 500 trees a year. The Portand community group planted in 1 year almost as many trees we currently have in the LGA. They planted 33 times more trees in 1 year than Council does.  When you look at these statistics, it is easy to see why Council’s tree planting program doesn’t seem to make much of an impact, especially as they lose around 95% of what has been planted. If Marrickville Council involved the community 12 times a year, they would be able to have a massive amount of trees planted around the LGA & importantly, not have to pay for the labour.