13 June 2006

The only good tree is a pulped tree

It seems that most trees in Manly are being shaped into a truck, car and wire-friendly shape at the moment. Ideally they are pulped or allowed to resemble toothpicks. Residents seem annoyed with a few leaves. One can't help feeling that they would love to drop some Agent Orange on them to eliminate that 'untidy problem'. Till then the armies of debris blowers whiz about daily creating an Iraq-like sound-scape, shifting the organic matter to the public or neighbouring property. Pouring rain or the dark are no hinderance in shifting the mush.

First, people seek to move to the 'leafy suburbs' with high property values, then a 'view' would increase values even more. Many tree vandals are clearing whole creek-banks in public bush-reserves to have that $-view. Once on the market, the view is further 'improved'. Then a few more branches are trimmed to place that giant real estate billboard in your face, even on public reserves. In the subs, the trees go bit by bit via chainsaw gardening and silent poisoning. Never mind any permits! And then there is that branch over the third driveway, there is too much shade on the new deck, the leaves on the pool and the bottlebrush in the public 'nature strip' was always a hassle to mow around. And so they go - week by week, by council staff, contractors, staff from Energy Australia and local residents. The ideal seems to be low-maintenance cement bunkers from fence post to fence post set in a giant car-park. Sales could be enhanced by popping a few toxic foreign conifers at the entry. No trees, no birds and no possums.

Elsewhere the community initiative Canopy is working to improve their urban tree canopy.
Here are their reasons why it is worth creating and maintaining an urban forest:
· Trees add to the aesthetic enjoyment of life. An environment abundant with trees is both healthful and restorative.
· Trees significantly increase real estate values for residential and business properties; an ordinary 36 inch tree can add $30,000 - a special tree can be worth $100,000.
· Trees enhance economic stability by attracting businesses; people linger and shop longer where trees are present.
· Well-landscaped areas experience less crime against people or property.
· Apartments and offices with a canopy of trees rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate. Workers report more productivity and less absenteeism.
· Trees save energy. Strategically placed trees can reduce the need for heating in winter and cooling in summer, with energy savings of 15% to 35%.
· A large street tree has the cooling power of ten air conditioner units operating twenty hours a day. Shaded air conditioners operate 10% more efficiently than those in direct sun.
· A windbreak can cut heating cost from 10% to 50%.
· Trees reduce wind intensity and act as a noise buffer.
· Drivers slow down on canopied streets.
· Trees need less water than lawns. Trees also reduce the amount of storm water runoff, which can cause erosion and complicate flood control.
· Birds and other wildlife find welcome habitat in trees.
· Trees reduce the impact of greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They improve air quality by reducing the formation of smog, capturing airborne dust particles on their leaves and increasing humidity.

More on the value of trees

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