Trees bring out emotions at the extremes. Often only at the extremes.

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.



  1. Cathy Chua   •  

    I don’t think that I want to condone the behaviour that you describe in this article.

    However, I understand the side of the tree fans. The idea that Unley is either actually, or proposing, chopping down footpath trees, for example, to permit wheel chair access isn’t right. I do hope I don’t find myself one day both in a wheel chair and demanding that it comes before trees. I don’t know if you recall the local paper’s report on this, it was probably 6 months ago, but it stated that idea that wheel chair users have a right to be able to cruise the footpaths looking at the lovely gardens in the area.

    It failed to point out the obvious: the lovely trees are part and parcel of the ambiance. Chop them down and you have a dramatic impact on the effect of the gardens. And we’ll have people complaining, quite rightly, about lack of shade for walking.

    Further, whatever aim you have to replace those trees in some way – supposedly on the roads and the car drivers and cyclists are going to be fine with that – it takes forever for trees to grow and that’s if they grow. Where I was raised in Adelaide, our local street was full of almond trees, both lovely to look at and fun for kids. But they chopped them all down in I’m guessing around 1970 and nothing has ever replaced them. I don’t mean young trees weren’t put in, they were. But vandalism/lack of care/who knows what means that 50 odd years later, the footpaths/roads are sadly bare.

    I bought into Unley area with a hope that this was one area of Adelaide where trees would continue to be prioritised and I hope I’m not proved wrong.

    The idea that trees should be cut down in case one falls on a child is completely bizarre. Is it because people are having children too late in life? What happened to trees being fun for kids? And yeah, accidents will happen. That’s life. If you cut down the trees – all of them?? They all have potential danger attached if you really want to look at it that way – where do you stop? Would you ever put a child in a car? Surely a much more likely way to be injured or worse than having a tree accident. I expect being attacked by a dog is more more likely too.

    We walk a lot in the area of Clarence Park, Goodwood, Millswood. Yes, lots of footpaths are very uneven because of tree roots. But if the trees weren’t there, I wouldn’t be walking at all, their presence is vital to my experience.

    I guess trees are a case of that oft said ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone’.

    • Don Palmer   •     Author

      The fors and against are so polarising Cathy. And add DDA in as you rightly point out and it becomes a melting pot. Council has a responsibility for all; the children, the disabled and the trees. It is a tightrope we walk when looking at our trees and meeting/addressing the conflicting demands. And whatever we do we will be like the umpire, always seen as wrong.

      In respect of DDA we do have a responsibility to ensure safe passage. One strategy we are working on is to move the trees out of the footpath area and into the road. I might touch on this in a future post, with of course a picture.

  2. Pingback: Don Palmer, Unley Deputy MayorWhat is the Value of the Trees of Unley

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