Remember when 17.10.2010

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I was looking last night through photos from the last few months and found shots without plastic orange barriers.

It made me get the voodoo dolls out again and line them up.

 A friend saw in Rose Bay in Sydney a beautiful fig tree surrounded by what was called a ‘tree protection zone’ and sign-posted with the name and number of the Tree Doctor! We certainly have a shortage of those up here. What a fantastic way of looking at veteran trees. And how sad that Mr Hewett, our former arborist, said Newcastle had ‘moved beyond tree preservation’.

Heritage assessment (1.5MB) was done of the avenue of trees [this, like so many of council’s documents, is a ‘modified’ version – there’s a PhD somewhere in the nature of modifications through this whole business], commissioned by council and carried out by Heritas Architecture. Page 6 is fun and shows how history just keeps on repeating itself. 

‘In 1957 a short [lucky people] but sharp debate occurred concerning the Laman Street trees. Driven largely by a desire to improve the view from King street to the Cultural Centre, Newcastle City Council proposed removing three trees on the northern side of the street, west of the steps in Civic Park. Strong community opposition was reported to the Newcastle Morning Herald, which commented that

‘Newcastle has an abundance of unobstructed views, but it has fewer trees than any other city in the Commonwealth. The Laman-street avenue may not be majestic [must have been that lopping they loved so much] but it is precious in a city so pathetically bereft of trees”.’

At a vacuum cleaner store in Mayfield (!) an aerial shot of Newcastle that looks as though it were taken about 1960 (not that I can really tell) shows how few trees there were across the city. Apparently loads of customers ask if they can photograph the shot, which is just what I did.

And speaking of photography I love that wedding photo shoots still happen in Laman Street, barriers and all. I was sent photos of two couples yesterday, one of who held between them a sign saying ‘I do’ and the other signing the petition.

I continue to rabbit on about how somehow the arborists who assessed these street trees received the incorrect impression from council that the trees  felled after the 2007 storm were examples of tree failures. In a peer review (89kB) of Mr Marsden’s assessment, done by Integrated Vegetation Management, it is written (italics and emphasis are mine)

In June 2007 , two Hill’s figs located outside the Art Gallery on the southern side of  Laman Street failed due to windthrow. The potentially catastrophic nature of these failures highlighted the need for further intensive investigations into the hazard potential of the remaining trees (personal communication with … Newcastle City Council, December 2009).’

What do they teach arborists?

At the bottom of the post are before-and-after shots of the frightening King Street trees which were removed to ‘do up’ the block. A very nice councillor I was speaking to actually believed that they were hazardous, which is apparently what they were told. Something about ‘some of the people all of the time’ comes to mind. I guess the development of cynicism in the community is not something that bothers many council officers.

The case goes back to court tomorrow. Fingers and toes crossed for the Parks and Playgrounds Movement who are the plaintiff on behalf of tree- and Newcastle-lovers everywhere. If NCC win here it will be a sad day for mature urban trees all over the country and a  sad day for transparency in local government. Parks and Playgrounds rely on donations and membership: you can donate here.

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