Barcelona just as barbaric as Newcastle


I have been starting to read about plane trees, because they’re obviously out of favour with the arborists in the council.

At the charette many of us were frightened by Mr Hewett’s comment about plane trees being diseased as evidenced by their brown leaves. At the time, of course ,we made fun of that comment because it’s autumn but he’ll win if we take our eye off the ball (and even if we don’t).

He, of course, wasn’t talking about how the trees are looking now but how they have been looking through the summer. I have always assumed that the trees were like magnolias – they burn in hot sun but other features about them make that worth putting up with.

Apparently that’s not the problem. There’s some disease that does this. However, every site I read talks about how hardy they are and how well suited to the urban environment. I don’t trust very much that is told to me by tree ‘experts’ any more and that the brown leaves of plane trees should lead inevitably to planning these trees’ removal is about as logical and believable as the age of Hill’s figs and losing some in storms should lead to planning the removal of  all 300 of them.

Laman Street’s figs  and King Street’s plane trees are precedents for the rest of our mature tree canopy.

Anyway, to cut a long story short there was an interesting  comment on a site called ‘Exploring the world of trees: a tree species blog’

A reader from Barcelona asked:

Do you know how many years live that species?
In Barcelona they pretend to cut them all because (corrupted) politicians say platan trees only live for a century and they are going to die in one or two decades. They are planning to cut the 70% of trees in the city. Mafias are investing in building even now.

Sends shivers up your spine, doesn’t it?                                                                                                                            Home


5 Responses to “Barcelona just as barbaric as Newcastle”

  1. Sean Freeman Says:

    It is a shame if you really disregard the opinion of professionals that spend all their lives developing greater understanding of trees, their biology and how they fit into the greater ecology around them.

    Opinion is rarely fact, it is rather a judgement that hopefully is based on the weight of rational evidence..opinion should be capable of being explained simply and directly to others in a way that is understandable.

    Personally I am well tired of conspiracy theories be they attempts to explain the actions and motivations of Newcastle Council or explanations of the assassination of JFK.

    In terms of management decisions for urban trees I would prefer open and honest dialogue…I don’t expect everyone to agree with my views on trees, with my views on what the best approach to long term tree management are…..however if specific justification is being claimed for a particular course of action than it should be supported by convincing evidence and by rational arguement.

    The 1987 hurricane that blew its destructive way through the SE of Britain destroyed almost 400 of the older trees within Kew Gardens, at the time I and a great many others were heart broken about the damage…However looking back on that event now it was without doubt one of the best things that could have happened for some of the parts of the Gardens, it permitted the reconstruction of Kew’s design in a way that would have been impossible otherwise.

    Now I am NOT trying to suggest that the hurricane and Kew is a parallel for Laman Street…what I am saying is that managers and planners within parks and gardens should have a vision that extends well beyond their own life span and beyond the life span of the trees they are charged with looking after.

    Succession planting and redevelopment is essential if any of our beautiful and magestic parks and streetscapes are to continue…and how that might be achieved in teh case of Laman Street is at the heart of some of what Ian Mackenzie spoke about to the City Council.

    I try very hard (not always successfully) to remember that just because I disagree with another Arborist about their opinion does not make them bad nor me good.

    • Caity Raschke Says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m afraid that if you are tired of conspiracy theories you may want to stop reading because many Newcastle residents are very suspicious of council’s approach for various reasons.
      Professionals may spend their lives developing their understanding of trees but who is paying them for their opinion and why is opinion presented as fact? Honest dialogue is extremely desirable and probably would solve all our problems. If council had been open and honest about why the Tyrrell Street trees had to be removed – I was going to say everything would have been OK, but let’s face it: the community would have tried to stop them. QTRA is a great example of something that befuddles the average person in the street, impresses managers and insurers, but is less reproducible than QTRA practitioners will admit.
      Can I refer you to ASIC’s issues with expert reports and their slant towards the body that paid for them? (quoted in Sydney Morning Herald). I think the slant is probably entirely unconscious – I certainly hope so- but that doesn’t change the fact that people must question everything they read and not be bullied into silence because someone has the title of ‘expert’.
      My leaning towards conspiracies as you call them is based on a number of things, all of which I have written about: how can roots on a radar report be called mineral reflections in bitumen? How can a senior council manager refuse to give further information about the Laman Street trees to the people who ran the charette? How can council not proudly distribute the arborist’s report that quotes the street’s QTRA rating at 1 in 14000 along with Dennis Marsden’s report? Why was the radar report hidden for months? In fact, it’s only in the public domain because residents chased it; indeed, the report that has been grudgingly released is an amended report, not the original. Why did the council’s arborist tell charette attendees that the roots seen on TV news and in our local paper were not in Laman Street when they were? Why was discussion about the Laman Street trees stifled at the charette? Why won’t council be open and say which tree species they plan to replace the figs with? And so on ad depressing infinitum.
      I agree with your thoughts about disgreeing with other arborists. It worries me that I can only recall two arborists who were able to cope with a non-arborist disagreeing with them. I work in health, an area that many people feel passionately about; I try not to feel personally denigrated when people tell me about their bad experiences with other health workers. I look forward to the day that arborists receive enough training in consumerism to cope with dissenting feedback. I am certainly not trying to offend all arborists – my objection is to how they and their reports are used by council.
      I’m glad that most managers and planners have a vision – that’s certainly not evident when you look at Civic Park, which has lost tree after tree in the last ten or more years, without them being replaced.
      You mention Ian Mackenzie. I’m not sure if you know that Mr Mackenzie gave his talk to council as a resident and Green and ex-councillor, not on a paid basis, as far as I know. He applied to present his opinion to council at a ‘Public Voice’ session. I’m extremely glad that he gave that information to councillors. I think it was instrumental in giving the trees the reprieve that they have. My only argument with anything that Ian said was that he is supporting a staged tree relpacement policy without, as far as I know, specifying when this should happen. I would prefer to see emphasis on prolonging this time interval for as long as possible, while growing spectacular replacement trees that are as beautiful as the trees we have now, and on how to look after the present and future trees, because they are not just ‘any’ tree and there are measures to improve the health of mature trees, even if Phil Hewett calls these ideas ‘fanciful’.
      Again, thankyou for your comments and interest.

  2. Ali Says:

    thanks for your comment Sean, getting wide input is a healthy for discussion.

  3. Ali Says:

    (excuse “a” typo cant edit it now)

  4. Sean Freeman Says:

    Hello Caity,

    It is of course possible to describe of the motivations influencing policy decisions by any local authority as being conspiratorial, but for me just how accurate such a description is depends on whether you believe that there is evidence of instances where the authority and its office holders have breached their responsibilities to the community they represent or their code of ethics…I’m not convinced that is conclusively shown by the evidence I have read.

    In terms of tree radar I would suggets that if you really want to get a better understanding of the complexities involved in this little bit of technical kit you contact Dr Richard Yeif ( has worked full time in ground penetrating radar (GPR) for the past 25yrs plus, he is the founder and Managing director of Georadar Research Pty Ltd…you might find he explainations of the limitations attached to the operation and interpretation of raw GPR data helpful in understanding how both flase negatives and positives can be produced.

    Although I agree QTRA can be presented in a manner that is not clear and direct, this is a mistake since it is intrinsically the same process of evaluation of the elements of risk associated with trees as any of the other methods…only the focus is on the target NOT the defect – just like absolutely every other method of assessing risk QTRA relies on the experience, knowledge and understanding of the indivdual assessor.

    I don’t believe Arborists are any worse regarding their ego’s and how they cope with being challenged than any other profession you might encounter, that is not an excuse for treating others disrespectfully.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: