I love tree quotes


If you go to Newcastle City Council’s website and look up veteran trees – which I did so I could see how they look after them – you get this:

‘Large mature and prominent public trees are described as veterans because they have survived for many decades as the city around them has changed. Veteran trees are a living part of the urban landscape. They provide numerous, valuable benefits, but they age, they die and sometimes they pose a public risk.’

That’s the very first paragraph.

The second paragraph says,

‘Veteran trees are usually only removed if: 

  • They have been scientifically tested and been found to be failing
  • Other options for managing the aging trees have been explored and evaluated
  • There are economic or legal liability issues.’

Sadly, there is nothing on the website about how to look after veteran trees.

‘When public trees are managed as assets they gain stature, identification and a recorded work history. Assets get consideration notwithstanding the personal views of those who disagree with their existence…Arbitrary and expedient tree removal or injury is no longer acceptable since it degrades the asset base and imposes avoidable costs.’

From ‘Risk started the ball rolling, what will sustain it’ by Phillip Hewett

‘Urban tree management involves managing not just the trees, but also the people, particularly their preferences and expectations, regarding the trees in their community.’

From ‘People and trees: Providing benefits, overcoming impediments’ by Dr Jane Tarran. This is so relevant to Laman Street.

The following quote is about the development and planning of Newcastle:

‘Colonial architect and town planner (Sir) John Sulman (2) (1849-1934) designed the Hamilton Garden Suburb in 1913 for the Australian Agricultural Company, proposing a 20ft nature strips on either side were to be spaced 33ft apart.

Colonel Charles Ranclaud from the AA Company replied to Sulman on 3rd of March 1913 questioning the footpath width:

We note proposals as to the 100ft avenues, but also that you show a 16ft footpath an a 66ft street. We trust this is not a material point to the new design as the local custom is 12ft footpaths and local Councils might demur at an alteration.

Sulman replied on 4 March 1913,

Your favour of the 3rd just to hand. As regards the 16ft footpath and 66ft street, I am quite aware that it is not the usual custom, which is 12ft, but the sooner the latter is abandoned, the better I think it would be for both the Councils and the public: for the Councils because it would save in metalling if the street is to be metalled all over, and for the public because it reduces dust, and for both because it permits of the planting of trees at any time in a suitable position, whereas 12ft does not. . . . . . . . . . .

A 34ft roadway is ample for any traffic that the ordinary 66ft subdivision road is likely to carry. If, however, it is likely to have considerable traffic (like Hunter Street) then no doubt a 12ft footpath is preferable, but in that case the planting of trees should be definitely abandoned for all time.

Planting of trees ‘Abandoned for all time’!

If the AA Co had accepted the Sulman’s advice Newcastle might not be so burdened with extensive and costly pavement and structural damage and the impending removal of much of its iconic arboreal heritage. Despite the AA Co view, Newcastle residents still wanted the shade and amenity of street trees and they and their Councils (there were 9 small Councils at the time) planted thousands of trees in the new, narrow footways. Two main planting eras in the 1930’s and 1980’s followed. Most of the trees now need to be replaced because Council can no longer sustain the level of claims for infrastructure and drainage problems resulting from the lack of root space.’

– from ‘Risk started the ball rolling, what will sustain it’ by Phillip Hewett. Council’s inability to sustain the level of claims against it for infrastructure is certainly not something they make lots of noise about to residents or on their website: isn’t it all about safety?

‘ …it is well known that some mature trees are having an impact on the built environment and that the issues being raised by the residents of Arnold Street are similar, although to a lesser extent, to other locations in the City, for example Swan, Council and Laman Streets, Cooks Hill.

    It is also recognised that the City’s street trees provide significant benefit including, aesthetics, heat reduction, carbon sequestration, oxygen production and shade.’

from report to Council on resident request to replace avenue of mature camphor laurels because of one successful insurance claim against council. Nowhere in anything I’ve read about Laman Street has there been any discussion by Council on the effects of the Laman Street figs on the ‘built environment’. It’s all about safety.

QTRA (quantified tree risk assessment) is one of my favourite topics. It’s a method of judging the likelihood that a tree will fail and is a method that has been used in Laman Street. I’ve written (no doubt wordy and obsessed) posts about QTRA before. It’s a method arborists, of course, have to pay to learn; they then need to keep paying an annual subscription, presumably to keep calling themselves licensed to use it. Software has been developed to make it easier to put in data and make calculations; some users had already developed their own versions of this software. The developers of QTRA charge extra if a user wants to acquire the software.

The following three-way conversation was on an arborist site and was about the cost and usefulness of the software. One arborist is Australian and the other two are from the UK. (You can just skip everything except what’s in bold or italics; I just put the rest in because it’s more honest to keep it in context.)

Arborist 1  I’m trying to judge what other QTRA users think about the idea of being charged an additional annual fee for the use of the newly launch calculator. The newly launched calculator is good and I can understand why a charge may be made to those incorporating the calculator into tree management software but I feel that charging the average QTRA user an additional fee for its use is excessive.

 What do other users think? I feel that I have paid for training and my annual subscription already.

 Surely the annual subscription already paid should cover the use of the calculator – Essentially the calculator is a pretty simple programme which many other users have probably developed themselves with a little Excel knowhow.

 Arborist 2  You are paying for finished product that has to provide a guarantee and cover the builders/sellers liability if it calculates errors and you can always defend yourself by saying I used XYZ product and that is what it said!

 QTRA is a commercial concern, it costs to produce, market and maintain any product, if the market will bear it, why not charge for it?

Will it reduce your costs, or allow you to make more dollars in a day? I have been using an Excel version for several years…it does far more, I can play with various ‘what-if’ scenarios, undertake Monte Carlo stepwise regression analysis, use a range of stopping distance calculations (including variation of the various input parameters like slope), 5 different formulas for wood weight, but it is always a work in progress. Does it make any difference? Not overly; it does provide some good food for thought and it does at least allow me to resolve some of the guilt I feel because most of my inputs are just subjective or at best have large levels of epistemic uncertainty surrounding them. Oh and it does produce nice charts too!

 Arborist 3 I was pleased to see the arrival of this. However, I am a low-frequency user and for me the QTRA workshop was most beneficial in guiding the way wethink about risk, and its avoidance etc. Frankly, I’d use the calculator so infrequently I don’t think I can argue for the extra cost to my line management.

What do I like about this post? It’s an unguarded conversation between professionals . There’s no defensiveness or vested interests, just a relaxed chat between peers about a method that should be questioned more than it is.

‘I have enrolled you in the TAFE Arborist – Urban certificate IV.  Only 6 years part time.  Classes are in North Sydney.  You can study on the train.  Sorry to your family, but you have a Cause.’

– from SavingOurTrees
Something I forgot to tell you about the savingourtrees website: so far, in less than twelve months, the site has attracted over 11000 hits. How’s that for a tree site? People care about the green that surrounds them and appreciate help in preserving it.

And nothing to do with trees, I read in The Herald this week that one thing to be considered in a report to council later this month is a suggestion to close the Information Centre in Hunter Street for tourists.

I don’t know about you, but the first place I head for when I go to an unfamiliar city is the Big i – where else are you going to find out about the attractions of a place? Especially if you don’t have a Lonely Planet guide.(And speaking of Lonely Planet, the book gives Newcastle a good review: look at it next time you’re at a bookshop.)

Whenever I’m out and about on a weekend I see people going into the Info Centre near Wheeler Place, and there’ve been many times I’ve seen them looking forlornly in the window because it’s closed. If I had my way it would be bigger, not non-existent. I hope council can see their way around closing it.   Home



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2 Responses to “I love tree quotes”

  1. sharon Says:

    Love these photos of some of Newcastle’s buildings supported by urban forest!

  2. Ali Says:

    Thanks again for the update.
    whats with this? …”‘I have enrolled you in the TAFE Arborist – Urban certificate IV. Only 6 years part time. Classes are in North Sydney. You can study on the train. Sorry to your family, but you have a Cause.’” was this among the informative unguarded aborist chat? & directed @ u? Congratulations! hope your fees are also paid:)

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