The current Unley Council, like it’s predecessors, is very keen on keeping Unley leafy for generations to come. Accordingly, we are looking to update our tree strategy.
To achieve this we have developed a new “draft” tree strategy. A draft strategy, giving you an opportunity to examine it and provide input into a final draft. The consultation has commenced. We will receive feedback up until 11 May.
I encourage everyone, whether a tree lover or a tree hater to examine the draft.
We are looking to increase our tree canopy cover from the current 26% to 31% by 2045. This matches the State Governments objectives of 30% of the greater metropolitan area having tree canopy.
Council recognises that we are not able to achieve this without your participation. This is because 80% of the area of the City of Unley is under private ownership.
In other words, keeping Unley leafy for generations to come will require not just council maximising planting on its own land, but finding ways of encouraging you to do the same. The strategy highlights the reasons for this.
14,000 standard size trees (trees with a diameter of 8 metres) will need to be planted in the next 26 years to achieve the goals. This large target equates to an average of 540 new trees planted per year. As outlined in the strategy, it is recognised that with limited public space, a large number of these trees will need to be planted on private land.
We therefore need to know how you feel about you and your neighbours contributing to this goal by retaining and planting new trees on your respective properties. Your input into how we might encourage you to do this will be appreciated.
Having a strategy to deal with nuisance trees was one of my many election promises. Placing a weighting on the nuisance a tree represents must surely apply to any responsible tree strategy.
It is timely, as we lament the loss of significant trees as blogged last week in Black Forest, to remember that some trees are nuisance trees.
While this loss of the Black Forest trees is hurting, we must recognise that trees do need to be removed if and when:
The tree is dead
The tree is unhealthy.
It is structurally unsound and inclined to drop limbs
Likewise it presents a danger to person or property.
These issues are dealt with by the Development Act for trees deemed to be regulated or significant trees. It requires even Council owned trees go through this process.
Council, as a responsible tree owner, has indeed a similar process for their trees that aren’t regulated, significant. Only trees authorised however by our arborist as either unhealthy or presenting a physical danger can be removed. Trees that may be a nuisance but don’t present as a physical danger are subsequently ignored.
As a responsible tree owner and neighbour Council should have a policy to deal with trees that are causing (for want of a better word) a nuisance to one of our neighbours.
A policy covering nuisances that don’t necessarily fit that criteria but sufficient to cause understandable stress for the neighbour. Given this, such a tree that was put before the elected body in the Chamber last night for direction.
Council approved a motion moved by Cr Boisvert and seconded by myself for removal of the tree. You can access details of the level of nuisance in this case in the agenda., commencing at page 155 of the agenda.
This need to take a motion to the chamber for a tree creating a health issue for one of our neighbours is clumsy and costly. This experience will surely inform the new tree strategy we have commenced working on.
The saga of trees in Black Forest going missing continued yesterday with a tree in Byron Road being felled.
I found myself cutting my shopping short early yesterday. A distraught rate payer rang me concerned that a lemon scented gum on the property next door was being felled.
The third tree in the adjacent area within twelve months. The second on a neighbouring property to this resident. Changing forever the amenity of this neighbourhood.
The pair of trees in the centre of this picture are both gone missing.
The two neighbouring trees, between them, were a significant contributor to the amenity of the neighbourhood. With both gone there is nothing.
I am not saying nothing left. I am saying nothing. The loss is immeasurable.
I share grief of this rate payer (and others who have contacted me). A fourth tree on my side of the Seaford Line (in Clarence Park) was felled recently. A tree behind my rear boundary. Our amenity has been forever compromised as a result.
The Question has been asked, was Council responsible for this occurring?
The tree was on private property. It is one of many trees in the last decade on private land within the Unley Council that have been removed.
Council therefore was not involved. If it were a street or park tree, then obviously it would be Council.
A subsequent question raised is what Did Council Do About it?
Prior to ringing me the rate payer had rung the Council, who advised they would contact the contractor. Such was the level of her stress however, I simply had to make sure Council was responding appropriately. If this tree was a regulated tree and approval not sought, then we would need to put a stop to the tree damaging activity
I contacted our Regulatory Management, completed my shopping, deserted my wife and headed down to Byron Road. The removal of the tree was already well advanced when I arrived a short while later.
So! Was the tree protected or not? Was the felling of this tree legal or illegal?
On completing their inspection our inspection team reported to myself and the neighbour. Their conclusion was the tree was not protected under the State Government’s Development Regulations.
The species being cut down has no protection under the regulations if it is within 10 metres of a building. This tree would you believe was 9.7 metres from a building on a neighbouring property.
Does this mean the saga of trees in Black Forest going missing will continue?
Yes it will. The felling of trees such as the four mentioned in this blog post will continue to be felled, unless there is change in the State Legislation.
What can we do about it?
As I noted earlier in this blog the controls are State Government controls, via their Development Regulations. If you want change, you need to speak with your local member of Parliament.
The legislation rightfully must consider the danger the tree may present to person or property. It is however meant to protect trees from indiscriminate felling. Notwithstanding this, it often appears that too much emphasis is put on removing the tree just for the sake of moving it, or because it is simply inconvenient to the home owner.
Out here in the west of the City of Unley that is Jayne Stinson. The member for Badcoe. Elsewhere in the City of Unley the local member (and a member of the Cabinet) is David Pisoni.
The City of Unley has long believed the State Government holds the key to Tree Canopy Cover Targets.
More to the point the key to tree canopy cover targets lies in the Government’s new DPI Act. This is the new new Act governing development in South Australia.
Thankfully the Government (through the State Planning Commission) has responded positively to our request for them to mandate a minimum 15% tree canopy coverage on all sites with new development. They are prepared to sit down and discuss this with us.
The previous Unley Council held strong and positive views of saving our trees. There can be no doubt the current Council also holds this view. From memory, in our respective election campaigns, we all included trees in our platform.
It is not however just about preserving our trees. It goes further. We do need to increase our tree canopy cover targets.
We are doing our bit on the land we have control over. As you will see shortly when we ask you to look at our proposed budget, we are looking to significantly increase tree plantings in the public domain.
Unfortunately this will exacerbate the recent losses we have experienced in the short term, as I noted in my loss of canopy cover blog of June last year. Long term though, it will improve the canopy cover.
The public domain however, the area Council has direct control over, accounts for only 16% of our City. Keswick Barracks has 4%. The remaining 80% lies in the control of our private property owners . Our rate payers.
This is where the Government comes in. For us to achieve the canopy cover goals set by them in their 30 year plan, they need to recognise where the focus needs to be.
Council can’t achieve a 30% coverage, even if they planted 100% of the area they control. There has to be controls set on private land, the land controlled by our rate payers.
I am therefore gratified they (the State Government) are prepared to sit and talk with us.
The City of Unley needs a Tree Policy that works for all. One that balances all the needs of our Community. To achieve this I make this election pledge: to develop a tree policy that works for all.
I pledge to fight for an improved tree policy, one that recognises all needs. A tree policy that works for all.
With a loss of 23% of tree canopy in recent times there has been a cry from many in our community to introduce measures that protect against further loss. Equally there have been many in our community incensed with trees they view as dangerous which are not removed.
We must find a balance between the two. To have a tree policy that works for all, we must address all of the following (not just one): A policy that:
Retains and/or improves the tree canopy cover in the City of Unley
Provides shade in our streets
That does not inhibit accessibility for all
Avoids danger to Life and property
Two major contributors to the loss of canopy cover are the loss of trees on private property, through redevelopment. This is through the conversion of single houses into 2, 3 or even 4 in its place. It comes also from home improvements.
We need to find ways to ensure we have a responsible tree cover notwithstanding our communities desires for accommodation.
Shade is essential as our citizens walk or cycle in our public spaces. We can do this. My own observations within the Clarence Park Ward is we still have room for more street and park plantings. I will advocate for this.
At the same time we need to be conscious that we all need to be able to move around our streets. That is able people, mothers and kids (including in prams), aged persons and those of us with disabilities.
We need therefore to be discerning about where we plant trees.
Danger to Life and Property
As much as we have a need to encourage increased tree cover we need to look at ensuring the safety of our community. Safety of both person and property.
✓ We need a tree policy that recognises trip and slipping hazards on our footpaths.
✓ We need a tree policy that recognises the dangers a tree may present with dropping limbs/branches onto houses, onto people (kids in particular).
We need to recognise the nuisance value of trees that may contribute to leaking in houses due to gutter blockages etc.
Only by addressing all these competing interests can we expect to develop a tree policy that works for all.
Written & authorised by Don Palmer. 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park.
For all we have achieved together, as I noted in my last blog we have much still to achieve into the near future.
For a glimpse into the future read on as I summarise what I see as the challenges going forward. Challenges which requires proving local leadership. The following summarises what lies ahead of the Clarence Park Ward. Watch for future blogs over the next couple of weeks for more detail.
Goodwood Oval Precinct Redevelopment.
Since Jayne Stinson secured a $2.0m grant from the previous government before the last State election much has happened. Much is still left however to do at Goodwood Oval however. I will release a series of blog posts in the next couple of weeks addressing each.
Millswood Croquet Club
As the club marches toward its centenary it desperately needs a new clubroom. A future blog will review this in more detail.
Managing Higher Density
Watch for a future blog as I explain the need for continued vigilance to ensure any changes to our development plan are respectful of the amenity will all currently enjoy.
Local Economic Prosperity
Business and economic development for an area is a shared responsibility. Council should take the lead.
I am looking for Council to consider all of its businesses, including the forgotten majority. The home based businesses.
Ensuring Financial Responsibility
Rate Capping as one of a number of financial measures in setting our budget, and therefore the rate, ensures financial responsibility. Setting the rate first and cutting our cloth to suit.
This must be done by Council with you providing the oversight, not a State Government external body.
Communication with Council
Those of you that have issue with communication from Council would be well aware of my intention to see this improve. Look out for my strategy to achieve this.
I will always that said be ready to represent you and advocate for you when needed, to help you work your way through the bureaucracy.
Always a topical and emotional topic are trees. Providing Local Leadership to ensure the correct balance will the subject of a future blog.
Council matters outside Clarence Park Ward and outside City of Unley.
Believe it or not but there is life outside our boundary. I will explore some of these shortly.
Then there is need for providing local leadership input into State and Federal issues that impact directly on Clarence Park Ward.
For more detail in each of these areas, and others, watch for my blogs on each. I will share each blog on Facebook.
Written & authorised by Don Palmer. 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park.
The public debate, fuelled from within Council, on the loss of canopy cover in the City of Unley has been blamed on the Council.
We have had a loss of cover in recent years from 26% of the Council area covered with trees to 21%. A reduction of 20% of the original cover.
The sharp drop has been attributed to the loss of trees on private land. In other words, removal of trees by our rate payers is having an alarming impact on our tree stock. This is then causing a loss of canopy cover, a significant loss.
It is true that we have lost trees on private land. It is nowhere near as significant however in my opinion as those we have removed ourselves. Council that is. Our street trees and our park trees.
Yes! Council is to blame for the loss of canopy cover. But it is however, for a very different reason.
I ask everyone to stop and take a deep breath. I ask us all to remain calm and put things into perspective. In other words, let us stop the hysteria that something is painfully wrong in Unley.
In 2016 Council implemented a 2nd Generation tree program as part of it’s 2016-19 tree strategy. This policy targeted the renewal of 2,000 trees in 5 years. We knew at the time that this would see a significant loss of canopy cover in the short term.
The aim behind the policy was to avoid too many trees all reaching end of life in a small-time frame. The loss of canopy cover would be catastrophic if that could occur.
I am asking our administration for a report on the progress of the 2016-19 tree strategy.
In the report I want to know not just how many trees we have removed and how many we have replaced them with. I am asking them to calculate what the loss of canopy cover is. How much canopy the fledgling trees are providing is the follow on question. More to the point I am asking them what the potential cover of the replacement trees will be when they mature and when we can expect that.
So! Before we panic, let’s be certain of what is happening. The loss should only be temporary and the direct result of our policy.
If the loss is not acceptable let us cut back the program and/or stop it. Otherwise let us accept there will be a short term pain in order to achieve the long term gain.
Trees are a considerable asset to the community on many levels. They are an important element of the rich culture heritage of Unley. Our trees compliment the environment. They enhance our enjoyment of open spaces by making them more comfortable and pleasant. Just as importantly they provide a wide range of other benefits. Benefits such as shade, cooling and habitat for wildlife.
Conversely, trees constitute a potential risk to our community. There are several risks to both property and more importantly to person. The older they get the greater the risk. These risks include from both underground and aboveground.
Underground risks include movement causing damage by lifting to paths, roads and to buildings. The movement can create trip hazards in our vast footpath network. Above ground dropping limbs can cause property damage and (as highlighted yesterday) are a risk to personal safety.
Like other assets, such as buildings, trees require considered and ongoing maintenance. As with buildings this maintenance should be designed to maximise the benefits they provide and to minimise risks.
The core of this is recognising for an urban forest to be sustainable there must be a wide age-distribution of trees to create a cycle of succession.
Council’s urban forest has 26,000 trees. 23,000 of these trees are located in some 450 streets. The remaining 3,000 of these trees are in our parks and gardens.
A recent audit of our trees indicates that 20% of our trees realistically require replacement in the next five to ten years. More urgently 7% of our trees (1,570) will require replacement in the next 5 years.
During this time, we plan to remove 1,924 trees. More importantly we aim to plant 2,806 new trees. Rather than just replace trees we have determined are in need, we have identified opportunities to plant trees where none exist now.
Anyone following the media in Adelaide would be aware that trees bring out emotions at the extremes. Often only at the extremes.
There have been many a local media article identifying these extremes recently. In particular, we see this repeated in Adelaide’s inner suburban areas. We have seen the emotions rise to the extreme at both ends of the scale.
At one extreme, we saw the recent save our tree campaign focused on the Government’s redevelopment of Glenside Hospital. At the other end, we often see people expressing concern for the safety of their kids.
We have seen it regularly in the City of Unley with development applications for removal of significant trees.
One such recent application before Council’s Development Assessment Panel has typified that trees bring out emotions at the extremes. Our Panel considered one such application recently.
On that night the gallery was full of people desperate to save the tree the subject of the application. Emotions ran high on the night. Their energy and their emotions unfortunately resulted in their interrupting the proceedings. One unidentified person then graffitied the front fence of the applicant.
This prompted a storey in the Eastern Courier Messenger and in the Advertiser. The storey, in turn, prompted a significant social media response at the other extreme.
Those responding were overwhelmingly of the view that trees should take second place in the hierarchy to humans. They were just as passionate. Any hint (no matter how slight) of there being a risk was enough to say down with the tree.
Definitely, trees bring out emotions at the extremes. And there seems to be no middle ground. It is either one extreme or the other.
Council’s are often caught in the middle here, unable to be seen in good light. Like an umpire at a sporting event, always wrong according to half the supporters.
This morning I had further discussions with our Arborist and our Sustainable Landscape Specialist. We discussed both long term and short term actions. We need to not only protect the tree which has at least another 20 years life left in it but ensure reasonably the safety of the public (you and me).
Of immediate need is to provide better protection for the public. Our staff pre-empted a request by me to change the barrier to a mesh barrier rather than the single strand barrier currently in position. I have asked also that we sign post the area as an added dissuasion to public accessing the area beneath the crown of the tree. Expect this within the next week.
A long term solution could be as far away as at least August. We need to determine what risks remain with various options that may be considered. Restricting or maybe even preventing access under the Port Jackson is being debated as we speak.
It is likely, as I reported previously, that the benches and Bar B Que will need to be relocated elsewhere in the Oval precinct. Finding a suitable shaded spot may prove a challenge however so whatever we wind up proposing will probably need to have artificial shade included. As Goodwood Oval is community land a public consultation will become part of the process.
This as always will be time consuming.
It is currently unfunded but I will be ensuring that we include a satisfactory budget during our current budget considerations for next year in readiness for a decision after consultation.
The Goodwood Oval Port Jackson Fig Tree is a much loved tree and very much part of the amenity of the Oval precinct.
Late last year I blogged on the limb failure of the Moreton Bay Fig tree (or should I say Port Jackson Fig) located in the north west quadrant of Goodwood Oval. This blog is the latest on what we have found about the trees health and its future.
Goodwood Oval Morton Bay Fig Tree
I visited the site with Council’s arborist this morning and he confirms the original assessments as it being in good health. It’s health in fact is typical of the species and its age. He and the independent arborist that carried out specific tests on the tree I reported in my last blog both conclude that we do have some management issues going forward to protect this lovely tree.
The Port Jackson (as we should get used to calling it) is a significant tree. So much so it is included in Council’s Development Plan Significant Tree Register. This provides it some pretty basic protections.
The specialised inspection has revealed that while in good general health it has been compromised. Foliage colour, size and density are all normal and there are no signs of pests or disease within the crown.
The limb failure has been diagnosed as the result of fungal degeneration and there is more present. These failures have resulted in a large void and altered wind dynamic. The trees overall integrity is not compromised but it has been assessed as there being a moderate risk of further limb failure particularly before regrowth stabilises the tree long term. I have had the regrowth pointed out to me.
Thankfully the risk has not been diagnosed as high as this would probably see a recommendation for its removal. Having said that a medium risk is sufficient for us to take action to minimise risk to all those who use Goodwood Oval and in particular the kids who climb the tree.
Pruning options are limited so we are likely to consider repositioning the permanent seats and the bar b que to another area. This will challenge us as any repositioning of this facility will require shade. Our arborist and I discussed some options but we will need to give this some more thought before going out for your thoughts and opinions.