You are here

Melbourne's Draft Urban Forest Policy not what it appears

This threat to clearfell half of Melbourne's street and park trees because they are supposedly "nearing the end of their lives" is an unprecedented threat to Melbourne's heritage. I regard the threat to Melbourne's trees as one of greatest threats to Melbourne and its livability. Plus the revival of the East West Link tollway-in-a-tunnel through the inner suburbs and parks. Can you imagine what this tree clearance of elms and plane trees will do to tourism? And what about living conditions in the city - the "heat island effect" will be extraordinary if half the city's trees are to be removed. Just as they are looking fantastic with recent good rainfall! - Julianne Bell, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria

Julianne Bell (of Protectors of Public Lands Inc.) writes:

I appeared at the Future Melbourne Committee on Tuesday last and spoke on the agenda item on the Draft Urban Forest Policy. I was the only person to speak and PPL VIC the only group apparently to make a submission.

This threat to clearfell half of Melbourne's street and park trees because they are supposedly "nearing the end of their lives" is an unprecedented threat to Melbourne's heritage. See my submission below. Also the Herald Sun report of 5 November 2011 with comments from the Lord Mayor in case you think I am making this up.

"Stately elms going in city tree change"

I did not make a submission on the Committee of Melbourne's (CoM's) Open Space Strategy which was raised the same night but am following this up. I would not have been allowed to speak anyway as there were hundreds of residents there to hear the result of resolutions regarding a review of the CoM's electoral system and Occupy Melbourne protests.

Note that there are supposed to be "consultations" on the "Draft Urban Forest Policy" and the "Draft Open Space Strategy."

I regard the threat to Melbourne's trees as one of greatest threats to Melbourne and its livability. Plus the revival of the East West Link tollway-in-a-tunnel through the inner suburbs and parks. Can you imagine what this tree clearance of elms and plane trees will do to tourism? And what about living conditions in the city - the "heat island effect" will be extraordinary if half the city's trees are to be removed. Just as they are looking fantastic with recent good rainfall!

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc (PPL VIC)
The Chair
Future Melbourne Committee
Town Hall,
Melbourne 3000

8 November 2011

Dear Chairperson

Submission on Item 5.3 Draft Urban Forest Strategy

I am speaking for Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC) in commenting on this draft strategy.

I wish to make the following points:

Our organisation applauds the objectives expressed in the document of the Draft Urban Forest policy. The trendy name tends to conceal the fact that we are dealing mostly with street trees.

We recognise that the drought has impacted badly on Melbourne’s trees and that it was the intransigence of the Bracks Government for refusing to assist the City of Melbourne to drought proof the trees by, for instance, building a sewer mining project in Princes Park which would have supplied water to Melbourne’s parks and street trees.

We are alarmed, however about suggestions that there will be a wholesale felling of trees classified as “nearing the end of their lives.” In particular we are concerned over the fate of avenues

Staff of the City of Melbourne appear to have a purist view about removal of avenues of trees and maintain that the entire avenue should be removed rather than attempting removal of failing trees and interstitial planting of the gaps. At a recent hearing on the World Heritage Management Plan of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens held by Heritage Victoria, the spokesperson for the CoM suggested that as the Plane Tree avenue in the Carlton Gardens was nearly the end of its life then the whole avenue should be removed. Our arborist who gave evidence, was of the opinion it was the finest avenue of plane trees in Victoria: that the trees are healthy; and that they have another 20 years or so lifespan.

Several years ago we had the unfortunate example of the avenue of Camperdown elms - 550 elms in the main street – which a Committee of representatives including Heritage Victoria and Friends of the Elms, with I believe the support of the City of Melbourne arborist, recommended the whole avenue be felled. The Corangamite Shire Council accepted the recommendations of our consultant arborist that the few gaps be filled by interstitial plantings. Consequently a moratorium has been placed on the destruction of the elm avenue and elm avenues in side streets. They have adopted a policy of interstitial planting in any gaps. between trees.

We would request that the City of Melbourne identify exactly what trees you are proposing to remove and what species you are proposing to plant in their stead. Additionally with regard to avenues we would like explanations as to why healthy trees cannot be saved and replacement trees of the same species planted in the gaps. (We realise that there may be problems with this approach in St Kilda Road.)

I have heard that Council has a questionnaire on the Draft Urban Forest policy. I can’t locate it on the website.

Signed Julianne Bell Secretary PPL VIC Mobile: 0408022408

Article adapted for candobetter.net from emails and announcements by
Julianne Bell
Secretary
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
PO Box 197
Parkville 3052

Mobile: 0408022408