Consequences 13.2.2011

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Work has started on the bizarre ‘upgrade’ of Number 2 Sporstground in Newcastle and I hope I’ll be saying in a year how wonderful the ‘renovations’ are.

Here’s the artist’s impression of what it will look like when it’s finished. (Could someone at Google SketchUp please put some Australian natives in the tree library? I mean – what’s with those birches and poplars – or whatever they are?)

Partly because sport leaves me bewildered and partly because it seems to me there are venues that sit empty most of the week already, it escapes me why this was needed. There was a business case made for it which presumably said it would make our council money.

And until we all embrace bicycles and until the state wakes up to itself and provides decent public transport, people are going to drive to a venue like this.And drive home: imagine – the shopping centre development in Ravenshaw/Steele Streets and this monstrosity one all emptying onto a couple of tiny streets which already drain an existing shopping centre, the RTA and McDonald’s.  Getting out of there will give us a Sydney experience.

I recall the RTA had objections to the Ravenshaw Street development (a shopping centre and units across the road from another shopping centre and units); I don’t know what the organisation thought of No 2 Sportsground. A friend warned me that something like 200 trees were going to be removed but I was completely distracted by 14 trees a couple of blocks away.

I’ve put in pictures of the southeastern corner before and after. I drove past this morning and some forlorn-looking magpies were sitting on the fence.

I recall that some of the trees were exotics, some listed as weeds – the coral trees have an entry here at sydneyweeds.org.au – but birds would happily roost in them – the erythrina crista-galli is mentioned elsewhere as a food-source for lorikeets; perhaps this one  (x sykesii apparently) is too – and of course the environmental  correctness of trees has almost nothing to do with these decisions.

Sadly, everything has a consequence. I was reading this week about Australia’s most endangered bird, the orange-bellied parrot. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/holding-the-fate-of-a-species-in-caring-hands-20110128-1a8fm.html There are only between 30 to 50 of these birds left. They winter in coastal Victoria and South Australia and one of the factors in their near-extinction is loss of habitat because of development.

So every time a new plastic and glass box with an ocean view goes up or a relocatable-home ‘village’ takes out an acre of bush or hundreds of homes go into Catherine Hill Bay or a huge housing development is built next door to Raymond Terrace or Branxton  (where the residents will be entirely car-dependent) it’s bye-bye to who knows how many birds and animals.

(Treehugger has an article here on car-dependent suburbs as the slums of the future.)

Taking out a handful of coral trees and its effect on magpies and (probably) Indian mynah birds is nothing in comparison to making a poor little parrot extinct, but I’ll wager it didn’t even rate a second’s consideration for the developers or the regulators. I wonder how birdwatchers hold it together to avoid depression.

And on a more upbeat note, the Newcastle branch of the National Service & Combined Forces Association of Australia is starting its parade in front of the library in Laman Street today – under those trees that only a few months ago were thought to be horribly dangerous.

How lovely that in spite of the presence of those stupid fences veterans still want to start their commemoration ceremony at our largest war memorial. Home

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2 Responses to “Consequences 13.2.2011”

  1. ArchitectGJA (Ed) Says:

    It is so disheartening to see these perpetual “artist’s impressions” of projects that remove mature trees and supposedly replace them with stick cartoon trees?

    I don’t know the policy these days in Newcastle, but it would be good to encourage (ie require) projects to either retain mature trees of merit, or replace on a 3 to 1 ratio if they must absolutely be removed. Having a full assessment of the impact of any tree removal should also be required, the trees as you noted are host to a variety of wildlife. Some developments in very high density areas which do not have the open land to provide for replacement trees can be “encouraged” to provide replacement trees withing a short distance of their site.

    The end result is that urban forest should be expanding, we really should not have to rally the masses to encourage a council to retain trees.

  2. Saving Our Trees Says:

    So sad & all for a car park. I have a great interest in trees that have been classified as weeds. Many of them are large growing trees.

    I know of 5 large Coral trees next to the railway line in Marrickville that must be at least 80 years old. The land they are on is rarely tended. Maybe every few years a whipper-snipper goes through, but other than that they are left alone. Every year they give a great display of red flowers adding beauty to what is a very neglected area.

    Thing is, after all this time no new Coral trees have sprouted up, nor are there Coral trees in the surrounding land that is also relatively untouched. There is lots of park land within 1km of these trees & these areas have no Coral trees either. So what’s happening here? Are these dreadful weed trees sterile or something? What about the area around Number 2 sportsground – is there a Coral tree forest anywhere nearby?

    Everything that ArchitectGJA (above) wrote makes sense to me. Perhaps it’s too simple.

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