Newsflash – windy weekend failed to fell figs

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As part of Newcastle council’s risk abatement strategy to manage the alleged danger the Laman Street figs pose barriers are erected when storms or high winds are predicted.This weekend was very rainy and wind gusts exceeded 50km/hr – not up to Pasha Bulker speeds fortunately. There haven’t been any trees felled anywhere in Newcastle that I’ve heard of so not a particularly extreme weekend.

I hope Council keep shutting the street like this for years if it keeps the trees there rather than replace them with an uninspired choice.

In the independent arborist report that is still condemning the trees as far as we know Mr Marsden talks about rain preceding tree failure. This was in the context of the other figs that fell throughout the inner city after they’d had their roots cut through in roadworks.

He described light rain as being the straw that broke the camel’s back and asserted that perhaps the added weight of water on the trees’ leaves was what made the trees fall over. Doesn’t sound reasonable to me but then I’m not an arborist.

Given the buckets shipping containers’ worth of rain that has fallen for most of the last few days it’ll be interesting to see if we wake up to any fig failures.

As I try to do fairly regularly I looked up council’s website to see if there have been any developments and I found a new page that I missed when it appeared about three weeks ago. I love this that’s entitled ‘Pruning and soil/surface treatment’

Pruning to reduce crown weight has been undertaken to compensate for the annual increase in tree crown mass. The need for further pruning will be considered in view of potential impacts on tree health.

That’s the entire paragraph. That’s the entire discussion of soil treatment. Proof reading failed to alert council to the need to change the heading.

One of the things residents tried to talk about at the charette was how it’s possible to improve the health of tree roots and at the recent Public Voice session of council the same information was passed onto councillors. It would certainly be cheaper than tearing these trees down.

The paragraph at least explains why yet more branches were chopped off these poor trees a few months ago. It wasn’t to make them look silly or less graceful, it was to reduce the crown weight. I had something much more high-tech and complex in my head when I read about crown weight reduction.

‘The recommendation for adopting a whole-of-street tree replacement strategy responds to the identified increase in risks to remaining trees when some individuals are removed from within the street – eg removing the short usefeul life expectancy (ULE) trees and retaining the longer ULE trees.

Expert advice received by Council rejects engineering solutions such as cabling remaining trees in order to increase stability.

In order to reinstate a tall closed canopy character in Laman Street the new planting must have adequate below ground space for root development. This space is currently confined to the road due to existing utilities.

A redesign of the precinct may afford other opportunities that the current site constraints do not allow.’

Keep telling us and we may be worn down. What this says is you can only have a single row of trees if you want Hill’s figs. Given that council probably wouldn’t want to use the middle of the road for a row of Hill’s figs we would get something like lillypillies or tuckeroos – all nice trees but not terribly grand.

And it was a sad beginning to whale watching season with a poor little dead whale washed up onto Bar Beach yesterday.                       Home

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