Saturday, June 24, 2017

A tale of two cities

I was out in Midland today. Don't get there too often so enjoyed the opportunity to have a look around. And something gradually dawned on me: I was really looking at two Midlands. There was the old Midland with it's abundance of BIG trees (Sugar Gums, Port Jackson Figs) and the "new" Midland with all its little trees - Cut Leaf Planes and dwarf Liquidambars. It's sad. We can't see that we're cruelling the very thing that attracted us to these areas in the first place. Nothing good ever comes from a position of fear.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Burn this image into your mind

It's what our streets should look like in summer… ie MOSTLY SHADE. 

We live in a HOT place. In summer we should only be seeing pockets of sunlight on the ground. Of course you don't want it like this in winter. But that's why you use deciduous trees. Large, deciduous trees at close spacings. Problem solvered. This is "Central Park' in the Perth CBD by the way. Great spot.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sacrificial anodes

For years I lost sleep over the loss of young street trees in new subdivisions. 

We would put a huge amount of energy into trying to save them but mostly to no avail.

Then one day I woke up:


Builders are trying to build big houses on tiny blocks with no verge to speak of. THEY HAVE TO PUT THEIR STUFF SOMEWHERE!

Sure, be as careful as you can, but accept the fact that the tree probably 'aint gonna make it and just plant again once everyone's finished.

The ideal of course would be to do no tree planting at all until the houses are all built. But developers want to sell their blocks and street trees help. However I'm now convinced we need to view that initial planting as just window dressing. It's there to serve a very specific purpose: to sell land. Afterwards is when you do your serious planting.

Bottom line: pick your battles. As the old saying goes: "Grant me the strength to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can't and the wisdom to know the difference".

PS….. sacrificial anodes for those wondering

* Note I'm NOT talking here about BIG trees on construction site verges in established areas with relatively big blocks and wide verges. Preserving them is essential. Why? Because they take so damn long to get big, that's why. No excuses for letting them die.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Councils need to "investigate" themselves first

As always after an incident like this, the council says it will launch a "full investigation". By its own admission, this council says it only loses about four such trees a year in similar circumstances. But how many is it losing a year because its construction site TPZ's (Tree Protection Zones) are inadequate (see post below)? Many more than four I'll wager!

The council also says it loses around twenty juvenile trees in similar circumstances. But how many a year is it losing due to lack of watering and maintenance by its own staff?

The City of Melbourne do it right. They keep accurate stats of all their losses and as a result they are losing less than five percent of their new tree plantings.

It's not hard. You just get out of bed one morning and decide to be accountable.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


by Eibhlin Nic Eochaidh

Neglect it
Criticise it to its face
Say how it kills the light
Traps all the rubbish
Bores you with its green

Harden your heart
Cut it down close
To the root as possible

Forget it
For a week or a month
Return with an axe
Split it with one blow
Insert a stone

To keep the wound wide open

Monday, June 12, 2017

"Calm and silence should be regarded as indispensable nourishment for all active
city-dwellers, the lack of which will gradually make us ill if we let it go on too long."

Christophe Andre

Friday, June 9, 2017


If you're a councillor in a large council and you're serious about your urban forest, here's what you should do: create the position of Manager Urban Forest. It's too important to be left under Parks Supervisors (no offence guys, but I'm right on this one). Your urban forest asset is worth hundreds of millions of dollars (give or take, depending on what valuation method you use). The Manager Urban Forest's salary would equate to 0.1% or something of that. Easily justifiable. The beauty of this approach is that EVERYTHING that impacts the urban forest - tree selection, planting and maintenance, road works, development, private tree retention blah blah blah - has to go through this one position. Now you have control. Now you have accountability. Now you can succeed. To my knowledge no council in WA has done this yet. Make a name for yourself: be the first.