TGIF 10.9.2010


Thank someone it’s Friday. The fig trees are still standing and our lawyers keep writing to people about them.

Greg Ray wrote a nice article today in the Herald about how trying to save fig trees is now a national pastime. He has one very sad paragraph:

In Newcastle, the council insists that criticism of the risk analysis and factual record supporting its chainsaw plan won’t change its collective mind. The trees must die.

Stark, isn’t it? I continue to wonder how people involved in ridiculous plans like this sleep at night.  I heard another example of duplicitousness today. On April 21 this year the council were forced to hose down stories (sorry: video has been archived but story summary still there)  about moving the War memorial grove from the south-eastern corner of Civic Park. This idea seemed to come from nowhere during the charade/charette and I still recall one of the consultants from the Big Smoke sounding terse with me, claiming that it was a popular idea. Probably about as popular as cutting the rail line to Make A Connection With Honeysuckle. Not.

Anyhoo, a Laman Street campaigner was at the Battle of Britain commemoration in Civic Park today when the Lord Mayor announced plans again to move the War Memorial grove so that Laman Street could be Done Up. Barbaric idea. Up there with his idea of turning the fig tree stumps into garden gnomes (which was defeated 12 to 1).

It was made apparent to me this week that many people may not understand about staged versus wholesale fig tree removal so I thought I’d give you this reminder.

A staged removal is no longer necessary because the out-of-date and incorrect SULE ratings and risk assessments have all been flawed, based as they were on misinformation relating to the non-existent tree ‘failures’ in the Pasha Bulker storm. We can leave the trees where they are, ideally remove the bitumen and perhaps turn the street into part of the park; perhaps we could have a lovely gravel road  or walkway in the centre of the road. We could call it Liquidambar Walk in memory of the poor taste shown by decision-makers recently when they wanted to foist this exotic pest on us Because This Tree Species Is Available Now. They probably can’t give them away.

 If you haven’t looked at the evidence we FOIed about why council cut down trees after the PB storm it’s available at None of these represents anything like tree failure.
There is nothing wrong with these trees. The whole thing has felt to me like a con  spin from day one. It’s a shame council has done ugly pruning over the years, and particularly in December/January this year when they should have known better, but that slight ungainliness is the only thing wrong with them.
I am still uncertain why council has worked so hard to remove these trees that do not belong to them, are loved by residents, and are irreplaceable.There is nothing wrong with them. Many arborists and bureaucrats simply dislike mature trees and think pavement, guttering and electrical cabling are more important. We don’t have to make a choice between these. They just need to be more creative and do a google search on how people work on this infrastructure these days, not try to do work the way it was done when they were apprentices aeons ago.
The trees have withstood the earthquake, the Pasha Bulker storm and now three 100km/hour storms this year. I haven’t looked up the Bureau of Meteorology site for how many big winds there have been since the Pasha Bulker but let’s say there have been three major storms a year. That’s a lot of force to withstand without batting an eyelid or dropping a branch.

The root-mapping radar showed roots. Mr Swain said at the Public Voice that he disagreed with Mr Marsden in his conclusion about no roots on the southern side of the road. (This is on the second-last page of the transcript of the December public voice.) A well-known Newcastle arborist said to me in December that he was so certain these trees were safe he would be happy to camp under them.
Mike Ellison of QTRA fame said that a 1 in 19.8 risk of failure (the treelogic calculation) was the equivalent of a huge, obviously decaying tree leaning at an angle over a bench occupied continuously by someone blind and deaf. It was a ridiculous calculation.
If you haven’t read Mark Hartley’s report I would recommend it.
If councillors have to do something to be seen to be doing something to these trees they could apparently do a really light prune at the ends of the branches but it’s apparently not necessary. The trees would not look anything like the ugly picture sent to campaigners by a councillor this week.
Elected councillors have been badly advised by council officers and external consultants. I would feel sorry for them if I were capable of feeling anything charitable at the moment. It’s shameful that they didn’t ask more questions.  Home


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4 Responses to “TGIF 10.9.2010”

  1. smiler Says:

    Hi Caity
    Thank you for your advocacy.
    Can you clarify for me – how many Hill’s Figs have failed. How many are due to root plate instability due to root pruning?

  2. The reply from the General Manager 13.9.2010 « Save Our Figs and other trees in Newcastle Says:

    […] secondly, in TGIF I wrote that the Lord Mayor announced that council still intended to move the grove War Memorial. […]

  3. smiler Says:

    So two in Tyrell St 2004 and one in Laman St due to dangerous root pruning. Plus:
    Two in Bruce St and two at Tighes Hill TAFE during the Pasha Storm 2007
    One in Civic Park 2009
    A total of 8?

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