A quick vent


Thinking about councils and risk management reminded me of this sign that I saw when we went for a walk through the rainforest at Wingham Brush. These stinging trees sound most unpleasant and I think we saw one reasonably close to the boardwalk. There are lots of branches that have rotted off trees littering the ground, some of which look mighty heavy. The former arborist’s description of a Hill’s fig weighing the same as  a semi-trailer comes to mind.

The council in the Manning Valley (where Wingham is) obviously don’t understand the concept of public liability and duty of care. Fancy letting people walk through that rainforest.

Enough sarcasm for thirty seconds.

A bit of interesting news today. Our new arborist comes fresh from work up north where he worked on the council who were intent on getting rid of the Wauchope figs. Great.

In other news, it seems there was An Error at the council presentation on Tuesday night this week. One of the councillors asked if the Laman Street 80-year old figs had been valued. This was because all that was presented in such dazzling and baffling detail was the cost of various things like removing the pavements, putting in gates, building ugly structures tunnelled down the centre of the earth in order to stop the trees falling, and so on.

The infrastructure manager said the former arborist had done this valuation  just before he left. So thorough. Well… that valuation was $87000 per tree. Times 14 is a bucket of money. At the end of the meeting a council manager must have informed the Herald journalist that the figure given was wrong, as what they were quoted as saying was that the trees are worth only  $68000. In total. Yeah, right.

The other figure that has been changing recently is the cost of the status quo, stupid though it is. On ABC radio about a month ago, the Livable Cities Director said the cost of this was $40000 a year. To get workers potentially out of bed at the call of an SMS from the Bureau of Meteorology if wind speeds are expected to reach 50km/hour to put yellow barriers across the end of the street and then to take them away again.

At the meeting on Tuesday night it was said to be $50000 a year, but the figure given to the Herald the next day was $60000. It’s like being in pre-war Germany or poor Zimbabwe with inflation like that. Council will need wheelbarrows full of money to pay their consultants soon.

It was interesting that they had a non-arborist give the presentation to council. The talk started with a dramatic picture of a mutilated tree from the 40s with the implication that this is why the canopy has problems – misquoted by the speaker. The canopy is not the stated problem with the trees. He also implied that there have been ongoing infrastructure issues with the Laman Street trees. This is not something that appears on the council’s website and it doesn’t appear in the arborists’ reports. It seems to be another unfortunate bit of spin.

What’s good? Sean Freeman from the Veteran Tree Group has two wonderful pages on figs which I love: they are called ‘Figs Stand Out and Be Recognised’  and ‘In Wonder of Figs’. His other work on veteran trees is inspiring. It changes the way you look at them. I love the way he points out that you can see figs easily on Google Earth.

Two (temporarily) good things are the fact that I received replies to two emails I sent to NSW parliamentarians. They’re certainly quicker at replying than local council.

I had a whine via email – how risky – about the awful view of coal ships off our coast and a whine about some aspects of the NSW health service. One was a letter saying they’ll get back to me and the other was a phone call asking for examples of a particular dog’s breakfast at certain hospitals. Absolutely nothing will come of either of these things except burning some bridges I don’t even know I need but what the heck.

And what’s bad? The coal piles on the way to work seem to be getting bigger and bigger. It was raining on the way across the bridge to the coal loaders and I swear the rain was dirty. You should have seen the windscreen by the time I arrived at work.

Someone in another part of the state with tree issues  told me they interpret my posts as painting a depressing position. I’m sorry about that but that’s how it feels to me. I wish I could work out a way that all the people with careers staked on chopping down mature trees could save face.

After two years of planning and working on spin to get rid of the trees there is probably no way they can back down. And since they all have degrees in marketing or something equally toxic (sorry, marketers) they have endless resources at their disposal.

But we’ll chug along regardless of how hopeless it looks. Cheers. Home


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