A busy week 4.9.2010


Spring came for two days then left again. It’s rainy and cold again.The air has been smelling beautiful in the last week or so and my rhondoletia is in flower, the pittosporum outside my office is blooming and there’s enough jasmine around to get poor hayfever sufferers down.  The decision of Newcastle City Council to fell all the trees in Laman Street seems an age ago and feels completely overshadowed by Mark Hartley’s review of the tree risk assessments commissioned by council. It’s been such a busy week getting together with other residents who think elected councillors have been badly advised.   

If there are any arborists out there who can tell me that this is evidence of root plate failure I’d be interested to hear from you. These are the pictures we received from council when we put in the Freedom of Information request for evidence of why council felled trees in Laman Street after the Pasha Bulker storm. Leave a comment. 

I took a walking tour of Laman Street this afternoon, challenged by someone who said they saw no evidence of roots around the trees. (Remember this was council’s first story about why the trees had to go, in spite of the root-mapping radar report contradicting this ridiculous theory.) 

Mr Hartley had pointed out some obvious evidence of roots, such as upward movement of the steps going into the library while we were standing in the street between media interviews. The more you look, the more you find, and there are a couple of  wonderful places where lovely fat roots stare you in the face. 

 Trees can’t win, can they – in Council Street and Arnold Street roots are Our Enemy; in Laman Street we say Come On Down.  

The tree in the picture is alleged to have become hazardous and been removed


I’ll upload some photos of the roots tomorrow. I was let down by flat batteries today.   

I saw some cards and ribbons tied to the figs in Laman Street while I was there – that was lovely. People were asking what they could do to save the trees. My advice is to email or phone the councillors who voted to ‘renew’ the street: you can read the minutes of the meeting  here and you can find their contact details here.   

To show how sensitive our council officers are, they have decided to record a history of the Laman Street figs. The details are here. The library has started some Sorry Legacy Books about the trees for people to write their memories in. We should all record our memories of this awful time so people can learn frmo it i future. I had heard there would be a photographic celebration of the street – but there’s not much to celebrate or remember in orange barriers in the street and great big ugly wind signs. In Laman Street last Tuesday I met a woman whose father helped save the Maitland Road Moreton Bay figs in the 40s.They’re magnificent – and therefore are no doubt in council officers’ sights.

Tamworth is having a tree battle of its own. There is a street in the western NSW town called King George Ave: you can see a lovely picture of it here. Development is moving out that way and the residents believe the trees will go as a part of that development. One article I read described the fear that people had that the trees would be used as a selling point early on and that once 200 lots had been sold the trees would go. Sad.  

On Kooragang Island NCIG (see Visual pollution rave ) have finally started to do something about trees to screen the stockpiles of coal. If we’re going to have huge piles of coal and not enough sprinklers to reduce the dust from them we have to have some trees to soak up some of the pollution. I noticed yesterday a team of workers was pulling out what looked like dead trees preparing for new tree planting. I hope they can compete with the fantastic tree plantings in front of other industry on the island – PWCS and Hi-Fert are the two who come to mind. 

And in old news, Canberra’s arborists and councils are trying to take the community with them on their journey to ‘renew’ its urban forest. This article makes me a touch nervous. Whenever I read about trees routinely being assessed for risk I worry. If one could trust the process, wouldn’t it be fantastic? I wonder if the ACT, like Newcastle, have moved ‘beyond’ tree preservation as one of our former arborists described our town? At least Canberra’s plan is to avoid completely denuding one of its most famous streets. Anzac Parade will have its trees gradually replaced over a decade or more.   

Applecross in WA employed someone who was silly enough to take the rap for removing the ‘wrong’ trees. 

Grafton on the north coast of NSW has a Jacaranda festival in October because it has so many of these gorgeous trees. The town has a policy of replacing a certain number of trees every year: 

‘When they are getting old and have passed their use by date they are replaced,’ [the council deputy general manager] said.“Every five years we replace one in three trees of any street. The idea is to replace them over time to keep the ambiance alive.” 

The purple blossom trees have a life expectancy of up to 200 years if cared for properly.’ 

Bet they wouldn’t last that long in Newcastle. 

And in another delicious but sad  piece of irony, Newcastle council is celebrating endangered wildlife: their media release says:   

03 Sep 2010  

Blackbutt Reserve will join forces with Oakvale Farm and Fauna World to promote National Threatened Species Day by holding a special display at Stockland Mall Jesmond on Tuesday 7 September.  

… The aim of the event is to raise awareness of the many threatened species of flora and fauna across the country.  

“We want to encourage the community to help prevent further extinctions and restore healthy numbers of endangered species in the wild.”   

What: National Threatened Species Day display  

Where: Stockland Mall, 28 Blue Gum Road, Jesmond (outside Big W)  

When: Tuesday 7 September 2010 from 10am until 1pm  

What a shame this education and advocacy role doesn’t extend to the grey-headed flying fox or the other two endangered or vulnerable species who live and feed in Laman Street. Home  



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “A busy week 4.9.2010”

  1. Ali Says:

    hear hear!

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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: