Queensland Box concerns have been one of the perennials that City of Unley Rate Payers express. Since the recent local government election, I have seen these Queensland Box concerns growing in at least the Clarence Park Ward.
Many ratepayers have expressed concerns that these trees drop leaves all year round at a rate that is too great for our street sweeping program to keep up with. Many more are concerned about the nuts that also fall in great numbers. The latter, in volume, can be a safety hazard.
Even more are concerned about trip hazards created in paving that has lifted due to their roots.
For these reasons, there are some who would ask Council to remove the Boxes. And for good reason. Removing them however would be counterproductive. They are the second most prolific species lining our streets.
Their loss therefore would see our local government area see a significant reduction in tree canopy cover. A loss that would create other health issues centred around a warmer environment than what we currently experience.
Initially planted in the seventies to green Unley, they have become the second highest species behind the Jacaranda gracing our streets. Jacarandas account for 24% of our stock, with Queensland Box not far behind at 18%.
As readers of this blog site will be aware, Council is very much eager to ensure we have sufficient tree canopy cover as one of our strategies to combat climate change. Indeed, we are keen to meet the Government’s goal for Unley to achieve 31% canopy cover by 2030.
Should they therefore be removed the Queensland Box concerns would then be about what their absence would mean.
Council has a new tree strategy courtesy of a motion I seconded back in May of 2020.
This strategy recognises that we should limit the number of trees of any one species to avoid the potential loss of canopy due to disease. We determined that each species should be no more than 5% of our total stock.
With the Queensland Box being so dominant right now, it is clear this means we won’t be planting them anymore. This should in part address the concerns that have been expressed. It will however take some time before the Queensland Box stock reduces to 5%.
So how do we address the Queensland Box concerns in the meantime?
Council has a street sweeping program that is based on each suburban street being swept every 6 weeks. During periods of high leaf fall, this will be increased.
You may well ask, is this enough? Especially those of us who sweep the water table of our street and fill our green bins. Sometimes as soon as a day after the street sweeper has passed.
Should Council increase its sweeping frequency? Should we provide 2nd green bins where 1 is insufficient to allow keen residents to use “their” bins to help address the concern? These are questions I put back to you as either will necessitate an increase in the rates you pay to fund such initiatives.
I would like to see the streets swept at least every two weeks, and another green bin supplied one is not enough!
I have recently moved out of my house in Mills Street, one of the
reasons I sold was because of the leaves I had to clean up everyday!
Happy to say still in Unley Council area , without a doubt the best Council in the State!
Thank you for the compliment. Sad you needed to take the action you advise you have taken.
Very timely post Don!
I’d hope that Council would be looking to plant indigenous native trees where possible?!
Can you advise what species Council is now planting that might fit the bill?
Does Council offer any advice or assistance to residents that want information about local indigenous plantings?
Maybe a decade ago I recall being very ably assisted by one of the Council’s team who helpfully provided a basket of local plants which I gratefully planted!
While tree canopies are important the shrub and ground layer is also very useful in providing habitat, amenity and biodiversity benefits as well as sequestering carbon and ameliorating the urban heat island effect. There are many verges (mine included!) that would benefit from Council assisted plantings of shrubs, grasses and ground covers as well!
What would be timely Jamnes would be to catch up. Your knowledge in this area would be beneficial to me.
Our admin do have a pallet of species they are considering but it has not (to my knowledge) been finalised. I will follow up with them on this.
You can apply under our greening the verge program to seek assistance from Council to green your verge. We can discuss this when we catch up.
I have never in over 25years had a problem with a street tree in Clarence Park other than authorities trying to prune the bejesus out of them.
Good to hear thanks, Trevor. I trust that you refer to SAPN regarding over-pruning and not Council. I know they (SAPN) have been less than sympathetic to the tree in the past.
We had our arborist accompany them a few years back to instruct on good pruning practice. In my observation, they have improved since then. We need to keep on them of course.
Can I ask Trevor what Trees do you have in the streeet?
Very large oak trees. At certain times of the year they drop sap over everything , late autumn the house gutters fill daily with leaves. The dropping acorns keep people awake at times. The possums in them pee all over the place. The beauty and environmental benefits outweigh by far any other issues. Learn to live with them.
I appreciate everyone’s contribution to this conversation.
In your case Trevor, I sense you are recognising that there is no perfect street tree.
Absolutely, options 1- 4 For a start think abt removing some from a street that is inundated with them, not wait for them 2 die conveniently a whole street at a time like they have in some & been replaced.
BC they won’t if you have people like me watering & maintaining our verges, or should we just let them die 1st??
Im 67 years old I can’t keep filling my 1 Green Bin every day & I mean everyday they fly up my driveway, killing everything with suffocation not kindness.
Ive asked for the trees to be trimmed back across it they did a few branches but not enough I now have the neighbours overlapping mine across the driveway
1/ So YES 2 a second bin for the streets you refuse to take them out of, 2/When the street sweeper comes down maybe if would be wise to have a blower vac on the footpaths under those trees as they still collect on them along with gum nuts which are really dangerous for oldies and Mums & prams & the Bicycle set before the sweeper comes down, otherwise they will be there the next day.
3/ during the year they have more than one seasonal drop thanks to our wacked out seasons climate change) so yes more regular sweepers as I pointed out to staff, when we get leaves that don’t easily bio degrade bc they are part plastic & we have the odd but now regular rain storms & these leaves sit in gutters cluttered up they start to smell like rotting??
4/ Gum nuts have caused many a hip injury and I for one will not hesitate to claim hospital/medical bills for a broken hip.
I would love to see your particular environment GP. Can you email please me at [email protected] to arrange this?
In the 1970s when these were first planted, it is hard to credit that those responsible for the decision thought that trees which produced large drops of leaves which don’t break down and ball bearings, as the nuts are in effect, was a good choice. And wasn’t it immediately obvious that they were a disaster and needed to be changed when they were young?
I’d love to have something weeping there in its place in front of my place, like a bottle brush. We recently got another street tree and it’s a coral gum and I wonder about that one too – the leaves look like they don’t break down either and I’m not expecting a good street shade effect from it.
To me the emphasis should be on trees which don’t drop inappropriate detritus, can cope with poor rainfall, extreme heat and wind, and which provide good quality shade. If these are not all available in the same tree, I’d like to know what the tradeoffs are. The reason Victoria Ave is so nice to walk along is its green canopy which is rare in Unley. Millswood Crescent, which is a regular walk for us has inadequate shade because the trees aren’t shade trees in general. Jacaranda trees are poor shade trees too, and that’s the other biggie in the area.
Speaking of which, a friend said to me recently that she thinks the jacaranda trees in George St are in poor health.
Thank you once again for your contribution, Cathy.
You have (by default) identified why it is not easy to find an ideal street tree. There are several criteria that need consideration. The other of course is we can’t settle for one or two. Adding to this we don’t want to have any species represent more than 5% of the total stock.
Having a palette of preferred species I trust we will be able to settle on this year.
To tree or not to tree is not a question. Take a walk in the heat and note the coolness the trees provide. There is the answer.
Well summed up Susan. Thank you.
As somebody who walks a lot in the area, I don’t think it’s that simple. Lots of the trees provide poor shade. I hate to suggest it, but it could be that the real answer is that we have to give up on walking as the climate crisis gears up.
That said, of course any tree is better than no tree.
I think Cathy the point there is if we were to lose 18% of our stock because they have been determined as unsuitable then we are going to see the coolness Susan is talking about lost.
Replacing the Queensland Boxes, therefore, is going to take a very long time.
Removing them all at once is definitely a bad plan!
Nobodys asking for them 2 be ALL removed at once, but UCC really needs to come to the party & start thinning them out & replacing with a VARIETY of shade trees that would fit Cathys listing and especially ones that can cope with the heat From excessive Traffic thats increased along our streets thanks to lack of support & overtaken by DIT. The only ones that like these Box trees are the Minor Birds. & why is this singled out as only a problem in ClarencePk/Gdns we have complained abt Box trees for decades in Leah Street & Forestville. Mayb we should all move to Nairne Tce where they have all been replaced.?
I am confused GP in that I am not sure what you are suggesting. Don’t replace them at once but start thinning them.
Are you saying we should start removing healthy trees and replacing them with something else? If this is the case over how many years should this occur not to be all at once? Council’s current policy is not to replace them with like for like when they present as needing to be replaced. I suggest that attacking healthy trees, particularly before we have completed our program of planting trees in the remaining areas where they don’t currently exist, will cause the problems of overheating noted in the blog post. I sense you disagree.
Your reference to refuting this as a problem only in Clarence Park is also not understood. My blog post identified up front that this has been a perennial problem for “Unley” ratepayers. The reason for blogging is that several Clarence Park ratepayers have raised it with me since Christmas, making it a “current hot topic” in Clarence Park.
I am happy to engage with those outside Clarence Park Ward but I suggest it would be appropriate for you to engage also with your two new Goodwood Ward members. Would you like me to arrange a meeting with them and me (and my new co-councillor)?
I think the Queensland Box is better than no tree. True, they do drop foliage shedding much in the beginning of summer and the gum nut produced are hazardous on footpaths. I am aware of walkers falling after “rolling” through these seedpods. There are a couple of streets near me with White Cedar trees whose seed pods are very treacherous. Street cleaning is not frequent enough to keep the streets clean. I noticed Queensland Box in another council area which had very clean footpaths and gutters. Maybe that council has a better cleaning regime than Unley City Council.
I am aware of more Queensland Box being planted in UCC.
Thank you for your contribution, Jan. Long-time no see.
It would be good to know which councils you have experienced that with. Of course, if you were to access the streets of Clarence Park right now you might make a similar observation. They are looking great.
You are also correct that there have been boxes planted since we adopted our current strategy. That has been stopped however by the decree of our CEO. I have also spoken with two councillors and the Mayor about this. The result will likely be that I move a motion with notice to ensure no more are planted rather than simply rely on the instruction of our CEO.
I intend also to seek to influence the upcoming budget deliberations to increase the street sweeping frequency.
Hi Don, I wish to take issue with this: ‘Of course, if you were to access the streets of Clarence Park right now you might make a similar observation. They are looking great.’ I assume you are referring to the recent street sweeping.
Our street is dreadful, partly because I think they only did some of it, partly because it was a windy day – they made piles, and then came back later to pick them up – but also because it needs to be done often. Within a couple of days of our path area being done it was about as bad as ever.
I no longer think that it’s enough to expect householders to do that work, too much, too hard. If it is so that our street doesn’t count for the same cleaning as bigger streets, then maybe we should get a pro rated refund on our council fees that we could put towards getting it done another way.
I am referring to recent street cleaning. Today in fact.
The point of that observation to Jan is anybody’s appreciation of how well a street is maintained depends on when you access it. As far as your street not getting a preference you are wrong in this instance. Your street was done last week, ahead of the scheduled sweep. The rest of Clarence Park was done today and they look marvellous compared to yesterday or last week.
The issue that is coming out of this conversation by most if not all of us is the frequency of sweeping. Hence my commitment to Jan to influence the upcoming budget process.