Friday, 22 February 2013

Apparently I am not being

"controversial enough" on this blog. It seems I should be saying more for people to disagree with and then more people might read it and more people might leave comments. 
Oh. Really? I do apologise. Of course the person who gave me this very helpful advice does not have a blog himself. He will probably read this today - or maybe not. We came close to arguing yesterday. 
He means well but I am not here to do an Andrew Bolt and ruffle feathers. It is Andrew Bolt's job to ruffle feathers. If I want to be controversial I will do it elsewhere.
Except that today I am going to say something that some people will disagree with. I am going to say that it is better to spend $480,000 cutting down twelve "significant" gum trees than it is to spend $3.5 million on re-building a pre-school for forty children just sixty metres down the road. 
I had heard rumours about this from someone whose grandchild attends the pre-school. They have had to find a new pre-school for the interim period and it is causing a number of difficulties. Today the story was confirmed on the front page of the state newspaper. 
Gum trees are notorious for losing limbs, big limbs. They are not good trees to have in an urban environment. Nevertheless people insist on planting them on the grounds that they are "native" trees. The result is that they are a problem, they are often a very expensive problem.
A friend of ours planted a gum in her back garden. She was very proud of it. It grew and grew. It was a lovely tree. It reached a stage  where it was considered "significant". That thrilled her. Anyone buying the house would have to keep the tree. Two things happened. First, a limb fell on her sun room and she was left with a bill of over $25,000 in repairs - not covered by her insurance. Second, when she died and the house had to be sold the tree was not an asset. It actually detracted from the value of the property because of the danger it posed.
My uncle had five gum trees along the edge of his property. They were there when he bought it. At the time they looked small and insignificant. Some eighteen years later they posed a risk to both his property and the property of the neighbour. By then they were "significant" trees. Council permission had to be obtained to prune the trees. The Council sent their "arborist" out to look at them. He did not agree there was a risk - yet. My uncle and the neighbour appealed the decision and won the right to prune the trees but not before they were propping up one limb to prevent it from falling. The bill for pruning five trees would have come to almost $20,000 had it not been for two younger and more able bodied friends of my uncle hiring a chain saw and doing the job. My uncle and the neighbour shared the resulting firewood but it was still an expensive exercise.
So we come to the school. The twelve gum trees are considered "significant". They are on Council property. The school is on government property. Rather than seek permission to remove the trees through the relevant authority the government has decided to move the school - just metres down the road. 
It would make more sense to remove the trees. Other, more suitable trees could be planted in their place. The children could be involved in this. They could learn a great deal from the exercise. Quite possibly, given the nature of gum trees, it would be possible to plant more than twelve trees of another variety. It might even be possible to find suitable natives. I am advised by a local resident, who lectured at the university in native flora conservation, that the removal of unsuitable and significant gum trees from the urban environment would not upset the ecological balance.
I love looking at trees. We have quite a few in our garden. There are a great many trees all over the city. I like the birds being able to use them as "homes". I do not believe however that all trees should be kept just because they happen to be trees or trees of a certain size or in a certain location. We need to balance things out. That $3.5m could be far better spent.
Gum trees might be natives but we do not need them in the suburbs. Disagree with me if you dare.


Helen Devries said...

What sheer madness!

People are very free with advice about blogging....Wordpress apparently suggests ending with a question to attract replies - leading to a number of very artificial blog endings.

I enjoy your blog very much indeed - it gives me plenty to chew over.

Anonymous said...

Okay Cat - you are not Andrew Bolt! David

Miriam said...

Erm... am I allowed to agree with you?

jeanfromcornwall said...

Our neighbour had a gum tree, here in the UK. During a night of storm, it fell in half. My OH offered to cut up the lying-down half with his chainsaw, so that it could be cleared. The "sawdust" turned to an nasty thick paste on which would not come off the blade: he had to have a new chain and blade.
Gum trees can be real trouble - surely the sensible attitude would be to protect the wild ones, and be strict about planting/trimming/removing domesticated ones. And if you want shade, plant something different.

Jean said...

Bravo, cat! We are enthusiastic tree-growers but that doesn't mean that each and every tree is automatically to be desired!

Anonymous said...

I would disagree if I could think of something to disagree with! I don't come here looking for an argument ... I look for arguments elsewhere, though have to admit to going to places I like and agree with. Why go looking for a fight!

About those trees ... Sooner or later the council will have to cut them down so the kindy kids and their parents don't get hit by falling branches on their way to or from the kindy. Doesn't make any sense, and wastes a lot of money.