Tag Archives: Trees

Mourning a tree

This evening I feel sad and a bit unsettled over a beautiful tree that has had all its branches hacked off at McNeilly Park in Marrickville.  That probably sounds a bit strange, but this tree was probably my favourite tree in all of Marrickville.

In fact I tweeted a photo of the tree earlier this year:

Just look at its vigour and majectic structure.  It was the centrepiece of McNeilly Park.

On Monday this week a large branch fell off the tree.  Fallen-branchThere is a playground very nearby, so obviously there is a risk that a falling branch might hit someone playing underneath.

In response Marrickville Council staff made a decision to hack off every branch of the tree!  They have produced a leaflet saying that the dead tree will be left in place and turned into “habitat’.


“Marrickville Council is working toward improving local biodiversity across various sites within Local Government Area.”McNeilly Park is an important biodiversity area and Council is working to increase habitat (homes) for the different types of animals that are found in the park.

“This tree had to be removed due serious safety concerns, but instead of complete removal it has been pruned to imitate a valuable habitat tree that you would find in the bush, which are very lacking in the urban landscape. Further pruning work will include the creation of habitat boxes and hollows similar to the images below.

“This tree will be used as a demonstration to the Council’s arborists and other service providers on how to create nesting hollows for animals.”

I suppose this is making the best of a bad situation, but it is just a little bit Orwellian to hack off all the living bits of a tree and call it ‘habitat creation’.

Hacked treeSo while I feel sad and a sense of loss that the tree has been hacked down, a rational part of me understand why this has occurred.  Being a father of two small girls, I can’t imagine how bad I’d feel if they were hurt or killed by a branch from the tree.

As a policy maker, one of the hardest issues is assessing risk.  Most aspects of life involve some risk.  As a species we have evolved in nature, and we need to be at least partly surrounded by nature.  That’s why we have parks and plant trees.  But nature can be risky.  Things can be spikey or sharp.  Ground can be uneven.  Things can sting or bite.  Lightening can strike.  Branches can fall.  The real question is how far do we go to sanitise life?

I don’t think there is necessarily a correct answer.  But I’m very sad that this beautiful tree has been chopped down.

Councillor Max Phillips


Council sends strong message to AusGrid about the brutal treatment of street trees

Marrickville Greens – media release

Council sends strong message to AusGrid about the brutal treatment of street trees
24 February 2014


Marrickville Greens Councillor Max Phillips is pleased that council unanimously supported his motion at the last council meeting to express its strong concern that changes to pruning practices were leaving street tree assets brutalised, ugly and unsustainable.
“Councillors have received a lot of complaints from residents about the unnecessarily severe pruning of street trees that have damaged the trees and made streetscapes ugly,” said Greens Councillor Phillips.
“It seems that AusGrid have implemented a new three metre clearance rule from any wire which is being over zealously implemented by their tree pruning contractors.
“I can see no real reason why Ausgrid would change to such a severe rule and brutal practices, except that it means they can prune less often and save money for their corporation.  The trees, streetscapes and residents of the inner west should not be sacrificed for penny pinching by AusGrid.
“Street trees are often valued at tens of thousands of dollars, are important community assets and can be much loved by local residents. This value needs to be respected by AusGrid.
“I’m pleased that Council has made a strong statement to AusGrid and I hope it prompts a change in practices.  I thank the mayor and other councillors for their support on this issue.”
Cr Max Phillips
0419 444 916


1.    Council expresses its grave concerns about the recent changes to street tree pruning practices being implemented by Ausgrid & considers the methods excessive & unreasonable.

2.    Ausgrid provide immediate clarification to Council of the authority vested in it by NSW Electricity Supply Act 1995 to prune for clearance data & communications cables as opposed to its own electrical wires.

3.    Ausgrid provide resources for the aerial bundling of overhead wires in locations where the impact of tree pruning on street & park trees is excessive & unacceptable.

4.    Council review its standard conditions of development for larger developments to aspire to provide for the undergrounding of overhead wires & data cables at no cost to Council.

5.    Council’s proposed Street Tree Master Plan identify the need for the selection of street tree species to take account of the site conditions, including the presence of overhead wires.

6.    Council consider, as part of future budgets, the need for ongoing allocation of new funds to provide for the regular pruning of street trees by Council’s own contractors.

7.    Council write to the NSW Minister of Resource & Energy, Anthony Roberts, MP, expressing its concerns about recent changes to Electricity Network Standards, adopted by Ausgrid, that require tree clearances of up to 3.0 metres to overhead wires.  Further that Council requests that urgent consideration be given to the amendment of these standards to provide for more reasonable clearances, no more than previously in force.

8.    Prunings be removed from streets on the same day they are cut.”

Cooks River No Swimming Carnival a success

Greens Councillors joined with local residents this weekend at the ‘No Swimming Carnival’, to raise awareness of the ongoing campaign to make the Cooks River safe for swimming again.

The Cooks River is a significant landmark in the Marrickville Council area. Originally a natural river, which became an industrial sewer, the Cooks River has been tranformed in recent years through the coordinated efforts of local residents, environment groups, bush care, State agencies and the various Councils in the river’s catchment.

The rehabilitation of the Cooks River and its banks has been a priority for the Greens on Marrickville Council, who were successful in establishing the Cooks River Committee in 2006. Council’s support has included native plantings, wetlands, salt marshes, swales and permeable embankments, as well as investment in building/ upgrading the shared walkway along the river.

However there is still much work to be done. An ongoing concern is the continued flow of sewerage and stormwater into the river. Following active lobbying by residents and Council there has been significant investment achieved through Sydney Water and the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, to improve wastewater systems and to complete the (re)naturalisation of the banks along the river.

The No Swimming Carnival organised by the Cooks River Valley Association on Sunday 24 February 2013 highlighted that much more needs to be done if the river is to become swimmable within the next 10 years. Water testing undertaken by the Association shows continued high levels of bacteria in the river. There are also high levels of rubbish (especially plastic bottles) and a stench from the river in certain stretches.


The Cooks River Valley Association released a postcard at the event which shows the Cooks River Valley Lifeguards – who operated from the 1930s. Some of the participants in Sunday’s event recalled swimming in the river up until the 1950s.

swimming postcard

The Greens share the aim of making the Cooks River swimmable again, and will continue to work with the community, other local Councils and State agencies to ensure proper investment to make this happen.

Marrickville’s street trees spared the chainsaw

A great result for Marrickville’s street trees last night. Council did not adopt the recommendation and instead resolved unanimously to adopt the resolution below.

The Stanmore lemon scented gum

“The Greens are very pleased that Council has backed away from making prioritising concrete over street trees,” said Greens Councillor Max Phillips.
“A packed public gallery and large number of speakers, as well as the large volume of emails Councillors received is an indication of the high level of community concern with the proposal to remove so many trees and make concrete king.
“For the time being mass tree removal has been frozen on the agenda while Marrickville Council commissions a ‘Street Tree Management Plan’.  This plan should take a more holistic and balanced approach to street trees seeing them as valuable assets, not just potential liabilities.
“The Greens encourage the community to get involved in formulating this plan so that it is clear to Council that residents want to keep our larger trees, native trees and want to increase our canopy.”
C1112(2) Item 6                  Tree Management – Inventory, Master Plan and Policy Framework
Public speakers:                  Kate Watts, Fiona MacColl, Jacqueline Yetzotis, Eva Johnstone, Adrienne Shilling, Louise Steer, John Butcher, Helayne Short, Vicki Panagopoulos, Rosamund Dallow-Smith and Christine Hay
Motion:               (Tsardoulias/Haylen)
THAT Council:
1.                     receive and note the report;
2.                     refers the report to the Environment Committee;
3.        provide a capital budget of $170,000 in 2013/14 for street tree removal and replacement;
4.        where capital renewal reconstruction works are undertaken and conflict exists between a street tree and infrastructure, the guidelines outlined in the ‘Urban Forest Strategy’ should be followed;
5.        advise and clearly enunciate any changes to the policies and controls governing tree management within the Marrickville Local Government Area;
6.        Council staff look at other paving options including porous flexible paving and that staff stop using asphalt for reconstruction of pavements; 
7.        Council staff look at options to increase the number of verge gardens and sustainable gardens;
8.        Consult with the residents of the streets affected; and
9.        defers any non-urgent actions arising from the report until the Street Tree Master Plan is completed and adopted and a thorough community consultation is completed.
Motion Carried
For Motion:                         Councillors Brooks, Ellsmore, Hanna, Haylen, Iskandar, Leary, Macri, Phillips, Tsardoulias, Tyler and Woods
Against Motion:                 Nil

Concrete or street trees? Macri’s retrograde tree policy

Concrete is king under new Marrickville Mayor Victor Macri. 1,600 street trees will be removed, another 4,000 are under threat, and concrete will be prioritised if Council adopts the recommendation on Tuesday night.

The Stanmore lemon scented gum

Point 2 of the recommendation states:

“where capital renewal reconstruction works are undertaken and conflict exists between a street tree and footpath renewal made with concrete, that conflict shall be resolved by removal and replacement of the tree and installation of the concrete footpath;”

The 1,600 street trees to face the chainsaw are likely to be the larger more mature trees.

An item on this Tuesday’s business paper for Marrickville Council will ask Councillors to:
*   vote on a new blanket direction allowing the removal of any tree if it ‘conflicts’ with a footpath renewal made of concrete – ie any cracks in pavements;
*   accept a report which has identifView postied almost 1,600 of trees in the Marrickville Local Government Area for removal; and

*   approve $170K increase specifically to speed up removal of street trees over the next two years, on top of the $500,000 already allocated for tree maintenance and removal.

If passed the new policy would allow the removal of any tree no matter what age, species, value or health of the tree, if it is causing damage to a footpath. The report identifies 3,960 trees as causing damage to footpaths – that’s three out of every 20 trees in the LGA.

For a full copy of the papers for the meeting see  – Item 6 – Tree Management – Inventory, Master Plan and Policy Framework.

People are urgently needed to:

*   register to speak at the meeting by completing the online form
*   attend the meeting and show your opposition – 6.30pm, Tuesday 20 Nov 2012, Marrickville Council Chambers, Level 3, 2-14 Fisher St, Petersham;.
*   email the Labor and Independent Councillors (details below).

The majority of residents have repeatedly stated their support for street trees in Marrickville, but the Greens are the minority on the Council so this issue will be decided by the ALP and the Independents.

There has been no consultation with Marrickville environmental groups or its own environmental committees. The new direction would appear to override the environmental commitments Marrickville Council has in place to increase the urban canopy and to maintain and improve our green streets.

It is not proposed that there be any community comment on consultation on the changes, which would come into immediate effect. It is proposed that eventually an over-arching tree strategy will be developed – but not for at least 12 months.

How to contact your local Councillor

Temple Street, Stanmore gum tree

Council proposed to remove a magnificent gum tree from Temple Street, Stanmore.  The tree is healthy and well formed, but has dropped the occasional branch in the past.

We do not such a healthy tree should be removed and we are moving the following notice of motion at the upcoming Council meeting on Tuesday 20 November

Notice of Motion

Councillor Phillips

Street tree outside 16 Temple Street Stanmore

Motion: That Council monitor the Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) street tree outside 16 Temple Street for 12 months and then review the decision for removal.


Recently Council officers have recommended for removal a large Lemon Scented Gum on Temple Street Stanmore.  The tree is in a healthy condition, however, there have been complaints about branches falling.

Since the notification was listed,  numerous residents have objected to the plans for removal.  One such objection states:

“I find it very alarming that council would consider taking down this tree. It is an important tree because of its height & species. It is important because there are so few tall trees on this street. These trees are gradually disappearing from our streets and this weakens our already challenged tree canopy.”

The tree is a significant and beautiful tree, making an exceptional contribution to the streetscape.  The proposed replacement tree is a small, slow growing species.

Advice from the Council officers includes:

“An inspection of the tree by myself, and comprehensive independent assessment by Dennis Marsden on the 3 September 2012, found the tree to be in acceptable health and no obvious structural defects were recorded at the time of inspection. The mode of branch failures was attributed to the tree being an individual with a greater propensity for branch failure under windy conditions than most typical trees. The independent arborist concludes that the level of risk associated with this tree cannot be anticipated and is impractical to effectively maintain.”

Thus Council is proposing to remove a well-formed, healthy and substantial tree, because of a complaint about previous branch failures.

There are many other large eucalyptus that could be removed on the same grounds as this tree.  If you look around the local area, it is often a larger eucalyptus that will be the largest tree in the area and provides the greatest contribution to the canopy,  aesthetic and the Australian character of neighbourhoods.

Other areas of Sydney and Australia have a much larger number of eucalyptus trees than Marrickville.  Living with gum trees is part of the Australian experience.

To remove a healthy, well-formed tree on these grounds will not only be a considerable loss to the local community, but sets a bad precedent for Council’s approach to other large street trees.

We live in an organic world and trees are big part of this world.  They enrich our lives in many different ways.  Many people regard trees as a substantial asset.  It would be a  considerable disservice to the community to start to remove healthy, well-formed trees because of some potential future liability.

Council maintains footpaths, roads, drains, sporting fields, playground equipment, buildings, childcare centres and many other things that may have potential future liability.  We do not remove these assets from the public domain because of potential future liability.  Neither should we remove this tree unless a it is of poor health or structure.

If there are further failures of the tree within the 12 month trial period, or a re-assessment finds the tree in poor health or bad structure, then removal may be necessary.

Greens vision for more trees in Marrickville

The Greens have launched a series of amendments to Marrickville Council’s current tree policy.

The amendments seek to increase the tree canopy for the Marrickville Council area, ensure the pla

nting of bigger trees, increase the planting of native trees, and ensure the removal of trees is only as a last resort.

You can read the full policy here.

The media release is below:

Greens vision for a green Marrickville

10 February 2010  Media Release

Greens councillors on Marrickville Council have released their vision for a greener municipality based on a thorough revision of the Council’s 1993 Street Tree policy.

“We’ve revised the existing policy with the aim of creating more environmentally friendly urban streets for the benefit of our inner city community. We hope other councillors will share our vision”, said Greens councillor, Cathy Peters.

“Having more street trees gives real amenity to the community by providing shade and natural beauty to our environment while combating the excesses of traffic, urban infrastructure and pollution. Councils are the first line of defence against the emerging effects of climate change and play a significant role in testing new approaches to water resources. More street trees will assist in both these challenges.”

“It’s important for Marrickville Council to upgrade its policy and to take some immediate steps to increase the tree canopy and to set targets and goals for tree planting in commercial, residential and industrial areas throughout the district.”

“Marrickville Council started a Tree Policy review over 5 years ago, but this stalled. The Greens think that a good policy for trees should not be difficult and we hope the community will see the sense in a clear simple document that delivers greener streets in the Marrickville Local Government Area.”

“If The Greens’ amendments to council’s Street Tree Policy are adopted it will result in more trees for Marrickville and more opportunities for planting larger and more endemic species in our streets.  It will also examine ways to improve disused urban spaces with bush pockets and other native plantings.”

“Marrickville needs a proactive street tree policy that will have a significant impact on the local environment within 5 years,” Clr Peters said.


Clr Cathy Peters – 0419444974

Clr Peter Olive – 0401719148

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