Staged vs whole of street replacements 22.9.2010


Photo by Sharon Healey


Your rates at work: Newcastle City Council took out a full-page ad in the Herald on Saturday warning people of the three-week closure of Laman Street for tree removal. 

More tens of thousands of dollars spent. It must have been somewhat irritating to the ‘assets’ team at council to have been thwarted at the last moment, when the Land and Environment Court gave us more time, so that the trees had to stay in the ground and the ad they’d committed to had to be printed regardless. 

Council no doubt reframed the ad in their minds as another subliminal message, more spin and therefore not a waste.Your rates at work. 

Don’t forget the ‘Not Sorry’ books at the library where you can tell council what you think of their short-sightedness vision in removing these perfectly healthy trees. At Newcastle library, you go in the front doors, turn right and you’ll see them on a shelf just before you get to the kids’ books section. 

A resident who was at one of the vigils told me she went to a lecture by David Suzuki over ten years ago at Newcastle University. She recalls that he began the lecture by telling the audience that he had just come from Laman Street and how much he admired the beautiful trees there, saying how rare it was to come across such stunning trees in an urban setting. 

Opposite the Land and Environment Court


I’ve found two examples of towns with thoughtful tree replacement policies that put our council’s slash-and-burn to shame. Grafton, on the north coast of NSW, has streets lined with jacarandas. There are so many that it has a Jacaranda Festival and the town is gorgeous when the trees are in flower. The council there replaces a proportion of its trees every few years. Imagine if they denuded entire streets of their trees as we are doing. You can read a newspaper article about it here. 

Anzac Parade in Canberra is similar: the trees there will be replaced over twenty years: 

‘[The National Capital] Authority chief executive Gary Rake said the authority was planning a replacement strategy so as not to leave the avenue bare at any stage ”given its obvious heritage value and significance in representing Australian soldiers”.Mr Rake said he understood that ”tree-obsessed Canberrans” were concerned to see changes in their streetscape as part of the ACT Government’s Urban Forest Renewal Program.’ 

Anzac Parade is one thing, the whole of the ACT is another – I’d probably not cope living in Canberra at the moment because the ‘rip out healthy tree’ programme has infected there just as it has infected Newcastle: 

‘The $200million plan to remove 400,000 trees over the next two decades has ignited community debate about whether trees are being removed prematurely, whether residents are being properly consulted and whether more needed to be done to ”drought-proof” Canberra’s streetscapes to preserve the lives of existing trees.’ 

You can probably bet that residents aren’t being consulted properly if the regime there is anything like here. Imagine your legacy as a municipal arborist being either removing 400 000 trees, or removing a town’s two favourite avenues of trees. 

Canberra people seem to have sensibly voiced their disquiet at what had been planned as this article shows:The Government commissioned the interim report by Commissioner for the Environment Maxine Cooper after its urban tree renewal program was marred by fierce resistance from residents, particularly in older suburbs, and bitter criticism of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services for the way it conducted removals…The report recommends that a policy of replacing trees as they are removed, whenever possible, instead of the present arrangement where new trees are planted only when nearby residents request it.’ 

Thanks to Ali for letting me know about the Royal Botanic Gardens fact sheet on figs

The Botanic Gardens work on our fig trees in the 1930s has copped a bagging by our council and they continue the spin about how our trees have come from poor root stock. They’ve done OK for such poor specimens. There was some twaddle information given to councillors – on the night that the decision was made to destroy our fig trees – about how the next lot are coming from a new species/genus/whatever that has better roots and that this is the first time in the world that something or other to do with roots has been tried blah blah blah. Sorry. I had to bite my tongue on the night. 

I just went for a walk in Laman Street and chatted to another sad resident who was there taking photos of the trees.  I’ll stop now. Home. 


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