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Eulogy for Les Smith OAM

Les Smith, eminent Whitehorse environmentalist and patriarch of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society died on 16 December 2018.

Les was involved in the conservation movement for over 60 years, initially in England in the late 1940’s and continuing when he moved to Australia in the 1950’s.

He joined the Tree Society in the early 1960s and served with distinction on the executive committee in many roles over the years including committee member, president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, membership secretary and newsletter editor.

Les was actively involved in the campaign to save the Little Desert from being subdivided for farming in the late1960s. This campaign was instrumental in launching a wave of environmental campaigns throughout Victoria and also led to the formation of what is now Environment Victoria, an organization to which Les has contributed greatly since its inception.

He was Nunawading Citizen of the Year in the 1975.

Until recent times Les remained active as a volunteer, member or executive committee member of a number of organizations allied to the preservation and enhancement of our natural environment.

Apart from the tree society Les was actively involved with:

• Environment Victoria

• Bungalook Nursery (Whitehorse Indigenous Plant Project)

• Antonio Park, Yarran Dheran and Wandinong bushland park advisory committees in Whitehorse

• Urimbirra Co-operative that owns 1,000 ha of close to virgin bush adjacent to what is now the little Desert National Park. The property is covered by a Conservation Covenant administered by the Trust for Nature and only removable by Act of Parliament

• Friends of the Little Desert

• The Mullum-Mullum Festival (Les was the 2011 festival Patron).

Les, affectionately dubbed the ‘Godfather’ of environmental advocacy in the City of Whitehorse and beyond, was honored with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his community service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2017. He was officially presented with his award by the Governor of Victoria, The Honourable Linda Dessau in October 2017 at a ceremony at Government House.

His legacy will live on in the natural world he fought so hard, and with such good grace, to preserve and enhance. Moreover Les inspired many people to embrace his environmental philosophy and deeds.

Our condolences and prayers go out to Helen and the Smith family on this sad occasion. Vale Les Smith OAM.

Planting at Yooralla

Planting at Yooralla (1969): Les Smith & Warren

Les Smith

Les Smith 1989

TS committee

Les Smith (centre) with fellow Tree Society committee members Anne Payne, Mary Crouch, Ann Clayton and David Berry, June 2017

 

March 2022 Newsletter

Upcoming Tree Society Committee Meeting

All Members (and Friends) are welcome to attend our next committee meeting which will be held on Wednesday May 11 from 2 to 4 pm at the Blackburn Lake Visitor’s Centre, Central Road Blackburn. Please enter the centre via the courtyard.

Tree Society President’s Report

As your new president, I am grateful to the committee and in particular the outgoing president, David Berry, for the assistance provided to make a seamless transition.

The Tree Society has a long history of advocating for and protecting trees and more broadly indigenous landscapes in the urban areas of Whitehorse and beyond. At a time when the realities of climate change are now being felt by local people in their day to day lives, the Tree Society must continue its strong advocacy. We are advocating now not only for the trees, but also for the benefits trees and landscape make to reducing the impacts of a warming climate on our suburbs and ourselves.

In the articles below you will see that the society has been active at a tree-by-tree level as well as advocating to the City of Whitehorse and State government for better planning outcomes that meet the stated objectives of planning policies at both levels. The Tree Society has representatives on various community and council committees.

The Tree Society Environment Protection Fund, supported by public donations from groups and individuals, plays an important public education role by making small grants to worthy environmental projects. 

Tree society members and friends are encouraged to take an active role in the society’s activities. For more information on how you could help please contact any of our committee members or send us an email.

David Morrison – President

Planning controls failing tree canopy retention

The City of Whitehorse Urban Forest Background Paper [1] shows that the rate of tree canopy loss in the Whitehorse suburb of Blackburn was about 1% per year between 2014-2018. This was despite a large part of the suburb having SLO1 and SLO2 tree protection. Tree canopy loss in Blackburn was 60% higher than the average loss across Whitehorse in the four-year period. See Table 1 Page 25 Whitehorse Urban Forest Background Paper 30 Nov 2020.

In the City of Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy [2], DELWP in 2014, and again in 2018, showed that Whitehorse experienced 2% tree canopy loss over those 4 years from 20% canopy cover to 18% canopy cover. The tree loss across the municipality is expected to continue at 1% each 2 years. By 2022 canopy cover will be 16%. The average canopy cover for the overall municipality fell from 20.66 % in 2014 to just 18.45% in 2018.

The Blackburn community has been strong advocates for tree protection in Blackburn for more than 50 years. For more than 30 years Overlays have been applied that have generally protected the bushland values and tree canopy as intended.

Over recent years changes to planning schemes have had a devastating impact on tree canopy. At Blackburn in areas where tree protection has been in place for around 35 years the rate of decline is the highest for any suburb in Whitehorse since 2014.  

The rapid loss is due to:

  • The relative increase in weighting that urban consolidation and accommodating a larger population takes in decisions made by VCAT ahead of environmental considerations,
  • The introduction of VicSmart, a streamlined process that allows single tree removal applications to be assessed in 10 business days, meaning that there is insufficient time for proper assessment for an understaffed planning department.
  • The impotence of the compliance and enforcement regime with weak policy, small penalties for infringement and a process that is cumbersome and costly to initiate proceeding for serious offenses, resulting in small fines that rewards bad behaviour.

The Urban Forest strategy seeks to replenish tree canopy and sets a clear vision, five objectives with key actions, aimed at meeting the canopy cover target of 27% by 2031, an impossible turnaround under the current planning scheme.

Without robust planning scheme policies and a robust compliance regime that mandate retention of tree canopy and provision of adequate space for future canopy then there is little chance of addressing decline.

Mitcham to Syndal Pipe track Works by Melbourne Water. WH/2022/4

The Tree Society has lodged an objection to this application. The loss of 68 trees and potential loss of a further 81 trees is unacceptable in the current application.

We are concerned that:

  • Retention of trees should also factor in habitat value. The report is based on arboricultural value. The pipe track provides a habitat corridor for fauna.
  • There is no proposal for non-destructive digging (NDD) to assess the extent of the Tree Protection Zones (TPZ) to minimise the number of trees to be removed. Trees with encroachment of up to 25% should be assessed with NDD.
  • No differentiation between tree species. Some tree species can cope with a greater than 10% tree root encroachment.
  • Street tree impacts are excessive. Every effort should be made to avoid loss of significant street trees
  • There is no landscape commitment to rehabilitate the pipe track reserve other than ‘work with the City of Whitehorse’. 

The BDTPS has requested that concrete plans become part of the conditions of permit that include:

  • Extensive landscape replanting is carried out along the works site with predominantly indigenous species. The planting should include at least 2 trees replaced for each tree removed.
  • Additional replanting offsets from trees lost from other state government infrastructure projects including the North East Link and Surrey Hills/Mont Albert level crossing removal.
  • A paved shared active transport trail is included between Mitcham and Syndal.
  • Retention, where possible, of potential large old tree trunks that would be suitable nesting hollows for birds and other fauna.

The relentless loss of tree canopy from State Government infrastructure projects on public land and infill development on private land, are not meeting Plan Melbourne objectives to provide a cooler city through passive cooling from canopy trees. The pipe track corridor provides a rare opportunity to provide meaningful landscape benefits because the infrastructure is buried and will not need replacement for many decades.

We believe that the project could deliver a much better and longer lasting legacy for the community that would contribute sustainability and ecological benefits and provide a significant active transport link. Each of these benefits makes a meaningful contribution to addressing climate change impacts. We have urged Council to accept the above suggestions.

We encourage all members of the society to put in a submission to Council along the above lines.  The more objections we have the better. It is OK for you to cut and paste. Planning reference number is WH/2022/4. We know you pay your dues but an active contribution to objecting to some of the proposed plans to council is greatly appreciated. 

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com                                                                  Web www.crowag.com

The cycle of seemingly out of control moonscaping of sites, insufficiently robust decisions by council and blatant illegal tree removal has the Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group (CROWAG), to which the Tree Society is a member, actively lobbying Council for a new approach.

CROWAG recently ran a workshop to get member consensus on key issues of concern leading to canopy tree loss in Whitehorse, both approved by the City of Whitehorse and illegal removal. The workshop was well attended by members and affiliate groups and drew out many issues of concern.

CROWAG is also concerned that Council will not meet its tree canopy target of 27% by 2031 (16% in 2022), outlined in its Urban Forest Strategy, endorsed by Council in 2021 unless significant actions take place within council in the areas of education, policy, and compliance. There must be some re-weighting of priorities in favour of the environment.

Ross Gillespie, CROWAG Chairman said that ‘CROWAG has gone into bat for trees and the environment again in 2022 by supporting a ‘Group of 17’ Blackburn residents who were appalled by Council’s decision to grant permission for five eucalyptus trees to be removed at 110 Blackburn Road. A strongly worded letter to council on the 24th of January resulted in an invitation from Council for 6 community representatives to meet with Council on 23rd March to hear the community concerns and hopefully seek better outcomes.

Public Presentation. (See invitation below)

CROWAG is sponsoring a presentation by Cr Tina Liu (CW Mayor) and Cr Prue Cutts on the role, and anticipated outcomes on the Environmental and Sustainability Stakeholder Reference Group.

(ESRG)

The presentation will be held at Blackburn Lake Visitors Centre on Wednesday 20th April 2022 at 7.30pm. Tree Society members wishing to attend should contact CROWAG by email at crowag.inc@gmail.com. Places will be limited due to COVID protocols.

Invitation   CROWAG members and members of affiliate groups (Tree Society) are invited to an Information/educational presentation.      When – 20th of April, 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm   Where – Blackburn Lake Visitor Centre.   Topic – The City of Whitehorse Environment & Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG).   Presenters – Mayor Tina Liu (Chair) and Cr Prue Cutts RSVP by 19th April – attendance is allocated on a ‘first in’ basis. Bookings are essential.   Please email crowaginc@gmail.com or call CROWAG Secretary, on 0400 085 549 to confirm attendance. Background – The ESRG was set up to provide a mechanism for Council to consult with key stakeholders, seek specialist opinion and enable community participation in environmental sustainability issues, initiatives, policies and strategies.   The ESRG comprises of two councillors, council officers and community representatives.   Possible matters covered include: Terms of Reference. Achievements envisioned for the ESRG Progress on ESRG including matters dealt with at the first 2 meetings ● Role of committee in: ○ The implementation of the Urban Forest Strategy (UFS) and the proposal to have the UFS incorporated in the Planning Scheme. ○ Considering climate change impacts Membership of ESRG – role and expertise of members General discussion Q & A   Covid Protocols – Normal COVID protocols will apply, requiring the wearing of masks unless speaking. Seating will be well separated. Seating is limited to 50.  

Inquiry into the Protections within the Victorian Planning Framework 

As mentioned in our last newsletter, The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee invited written submissions from individuals and organisations addressing one or more of the issues identified in the terms of reference. 

The following issues are of interest to the Tree Society and its members:

  • Environmental sustainability and vegetation protection;
  • Delivering certainty and fairness in planning decisions for communities, including:       
    • mandatory height limits and minimum apartment sizes
    • protecting Green Wedges and the urban growth boundary;
    • community concerns about VCAT appeal processes; (d) protecting third party appeal rights; (e) the role of Ministerial call-ins.
  • Protecting heritage in Victoria, including but not limited to:

(g) penalties for illegal demolitions and tree removals.

  • ensuring residential zones are delivering the type of housing that communities want. 

The Tree Society was one of 260 submissions lodged indicating very strong interest in the inquiry, and consequently would require substantial time allocation by the Committee for all witnesses to be granted a hearing if they so wished. Based on other inquiries more than 30 days would need to be set aside for the hearing. The inquiry into Ecosystem Decline had 16 Days of hearings for 134 witnesses.

The issue of illegal tree removals, especially compared to the far more punitive amounts in NSW, were especially highlighted in our Tree Society submission.

Recently, in a letter to The Tree Society the Committee Manager, Legislative Council, Environment and Planning Committee, advised that as this is an election year in Victoria, committee activity will wind down towards the middle of the year and there is likely to be no significant committee work in the second half of the year.

……the Committee has made the decision that it will not be holding public hearings for this inquiry but will do a detailed and thorough review of all submissions, prepare an interim report for the Parliament identifying the key issues and key questions and will be making a strong recommendation to the government that a full and detailed inquiry be undertaken at the commencement of the next Parliament.’

……….’The interim report will be able to identify all of the key issues and questions and that the submissions made to this inquiry will be available to any full inquiry in the next parliament.’

We were also assured that it is the Committee’s intention that this be a delay in finalising the inquiry, not closing it down which is heartening given the effort of so many submitters, including the Tree Society, CROWAG, BVRG and many Whitehorse residents.

We congratulate and pass on the Tree Society’s appreciation to everyone who responded to the call and made a submission to this Inquiry including and especially the Whitehorse CC. 

We are disappointed, however, that this is not proceeding to a public inquiry given how many submissions were lodged. This is also at a time when developers in particular, are forging ahead with dual occupancy and multi-level apartment blocks on denuded blocks where single storey dwelling once stood, with invaluable tree canopy.

Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund – Report by David Berry

The Fund, created in 2008, has tax-deductibility status for donations and is sponsored and managed by the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc.The Fund’s Environment Grants Program is permanently open to provide financial support for eligible environmental projects within, and linked to, the City of Whitehorse. Projects can include on-ground planting and environmental educational activities, support for environmental causes and financial input to help residents and community groups battle inappropriate developments in Whitehorse (e.g., at VCAT). 

Over the past ten years the Fund has allocated over $29,000 for twenty-eight projects mainly within Whitehorse. Community groups that have been funded include primary schools, scouting groups, neighbourhood houses, community nurseries, bushland park advisory committees and council projects (e.g., the ‘My Favourite Tree’ photo competition). The Fund currently holds over $30,000 in funds and aims to allocate up to 10% of total funds each year for worthy environmental projects within and beyond Whitehorse. 

The Fund has financially supported the following projects during 2020 and 2021:

  • The transfer of $5,000 of the Dacy family funds to the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Advisory Committee for environmental education projects including the management of the Margaret Dacy botanical collection
  • A $200 donation to the Friends of the Earth targeted to the group’s North East Link campaign
  • A $200 donation to the Whitehorse Active Transport Action Group (WATAG) for printing councillor candidate information leaflets for the October 2020 Whitehorse elections
  • $200 for supplementary prize winners of Council’s ‘My Favourite Tree’ photo competition.

The money supported 10 x $20 plant vouchers redeemable at Greenlink Box Hill

  • $500 to part-fund an independent arboricultural assessment of the trees at 1 Andrew Street Forest Hill at a recent VCAT hearing
  • $500 to fund a facilitator to help the Kooyongkoot Alliance formulate objectives and guiding principles to develop a whole-of-catchment management plan for Gardiners Creek. Membership of the alliance includes seventeen Friends groups, four councils, Yarra Riverkeepers and Melbourne Water.

The Fund committee is actively pursuing other community based environmental projects worthy of financial support. Potential projects include:

  • Providing a grant source for Whitehorse Bushland Parks Advisory Committees/Friends groups, particularly if the advisory committees become incorporated Friends groups as proposed by Council
  • Financial support for Council’s ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ program
  • Initiating an ‘Adopt a Street Tree’ program along with Council
  • Supporting planting activities within Whitehorse parks including botanical gardens, bushland parks, reserves, sporting precincts, small and pocket parks, open spaces and the city’s golf courses
  • Financial support for Council’s Tree Assistance Program with a corresponding ‘Tree Succession Planting Program’. 

Donations to the Fund can be made on-line via http://www.givenow.com.au/cause1518 or by completing and sending a cheque to the fund addressed to BDEPF, C/- The Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, VIC 3131. More information see https://bdtps.wordpress.com/environmentprotectionfund/  

The Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund    2022 Small Grants Program     The Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc. committee is pleased to announce the Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund Small Grants Program for 2022.     The purpose of the Small Grants Program is to provide financial support for suitable community projects that will enhance the natural environment in, or linked with, the City of Whitehorse.   Groups eligible for funding include environmental organisations, Friends groups, bushland park advisory committees, community groups and schools in eastern metropolitan Melbourne.   All projects must comply with the Fund objectives:   To build community support to promote and improve the valuable heritage of bushland in Whitehorse and beyond. To encourage retention of existing indigenous trees, shrubs and flowers that support native fauna. To support and fund community groups working with local government authorities to protect and enhance bushland.   The objectives will be achieved by the Small Grants Program supporting:   The extension and enhancement of bushland parks, open spaces and ‘green’ links in Whitehorse and beyond via the planting of indigenous plants, mulching, weed control, water quality testing and flora and fauna survey programs. Grant money may be used to purchase indigenous plants, planting tools and equipment, mulch and survey materials. Education programs that increase community awareness of the bushland environment and natural heritage values within the city. This includes the production and distribution of environmental educational materials.   The Fund is sponsored by the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society and managed by the Tree Society committee – Brad Baker, David Berry, Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Colin Gridley, Anne Payne OAM, Dianne Tribe and Robyn Weir.   Grant applications are welcome at any time throughout the year and the application form is available on the Tree Society website blackburnenviro.wordpress.com or via email bdtpsociety@gmail.com   The Fund committee welcomes donations by individuals, community groups, businesses and other organisations (see contact details above).     

A New Guide to the Eucalypts of Whitehorse

This recently published guide on local eucalypts, authored by Tony Slater, can be downloaded from the following link: The Guide to the Eucalypts of Whitehorse and Surrounds ( PDF 4.08MB).

The guide uses an identification key, botanical descriptions and photos to help classify local eucalypts. It is a useful field resource and relies on characteristics that are reasonably easy to observe, such as bark, buds, leaves and fruit.

Indigenous (i.e., species that naturally occur in bushland areas of the city) and the more common non-indigenous eucalypts are the focus of the guide. It is anticipated that users will become familiar with our local eucalypts and appreciative of the beneficial effects they have on the natural character of the city and the well-being of its residents.

Whitehorse Council is planning to host walks through the city’s parklands to identify eucalypts. For further information please contact Council’s Tree Education Officer at:

trees@whitehorse.vic.gov.au 

A Celebration Les Smith’s involvement in the Tree Society

The Committee is liaising with Council and family to establish a memorial to Les in the Blackburn Triangle and a planting/plaque dedication ceremony is now expected to occur during autumn 2022.  

City of Whitehorse Environment and Sustainability Stakeholder Reference Group (ESRG)

Whitehorse has established the ESRG in response to community urging, for better environment and sustainability outcomes from Council.

Tree Society’s Anne Payne is one of 4 community representatives. Other representatives include John McMahon, Glenys Grant and John Malvestuto. The ESRG meets each 3 months. Any matters considered important to be raised with the committee should be made directly to those representatives or to the tree society.  The community is looking forward to genuine stakeholder engagement and concrete initiatives and policies emerging from this worthwhile committee.

The terms of reference for the ESRG are:

Purpose

Provide a mechanism for Council to consult with key stakeholders, seek specialist opinion and enable community participation in environmental sustainability issues, initiatives, policies and strategies.

Objectives

  • Provide a forum for environment and sustainability issues of interest and concern for Whitehorse to be reviewed and considered prior to Council decision making processes on all aspects of the environment.
  • Assist in the preparation or review of key environmental sustainability strategies and policies.
  • Assist in the design and delivery of specific environment and sustainability programs by Council.
  • Provide input to Council on issues of environmental sustainability.
  • Monitor the progress of implementation of Council action / management plans relating to environmental sustainability.
  • Provide coordination, liaison and communication with other Council appointed community groups and key external stakeholders.

Local planning issues assessed and responded to by the society: –

Planning applications that are still under consideration or have progressed to VCAT are detailed below.

Each has raised issues with amenity and unacceptable tree removal or inadequate landscape provision.

  • 18 Glen Ebor – won at VCAT 2021. No permit issued 
  • 23 Baldwin Road – Vicsmart application and tree removed 
  • 9 Jeffery Street – 3 submissions and the latest pending. Tree Society asked for 2 Eucalyptus ovatas to be planted along the creek bed. 
  • 74 Main Street – permit issued but sugar gums in the front setback retained. 
  • 33A Canterbury Road, Forest Hill – permit issued with permit conditions for replanting removed. 
  • 1 Andrew Street, Forest Hill – lost at VCAT to save one stringybark and to add more landscaping in front of the front fence. 
  • 18 Masons Road – Won at VCAT and no permit issued. 
  • 1/101 Blackburn Road, Blackburn – new application for a double storey plus the removal of large Eucalypt, a Corymbia maculata. Still pending. 
  • 24 Glen Ebor Blackburn – applicant appealing refusal at VCAT next month. 
  • 39-41 Holland Road Blackburn South – sale to new owner in December so application lapsed. 
  • Taralye/Next Sense – they have planted 5 trees. No permit as Council gave authorised tree removal for 15 trees in 2020 and 2021. 
  • 110 Blackburn Road- 5 trees removed, and one retained a large yellow box. Query pending as to the renovation requiring a planning permit or not. 
  • 2 Gerald Street – permit issued 
  • 36 Jeffery Street – permit issued but pool removed completely and 2 tall canopy trees of over 15 metres part of permit conditions. This is a win to the TS who suggested two canopy trees in the rear setback. 
  • 27-29 The Avenue – applicant lodged at VCAT re permit conditions regarding decking and pool.  ● 6 Naughton Grove – complaint made and won re planning for multiple tree removals through Vicsmart. 
  • 10 Boulton Road – forum held and still pending with Council 
  • 2 Wirreanda Court – Permit issued with permit conditions for 2 units. 
  • 32 Laburnum removal of 5 sugar gums. Forum held and permit is pending. 
  • 32 Fuchsia Street – applicant appeal at VCAT in June. 
  • 6 Brenda Court, Nunawading – forum held and decision pending 
  • 35 The Ridge – permit issued and no work to remove concrete from the TPZ of 2 trees not yet commenced. 
  • 38 The Ridge – Removal of trees for a new dwelling – no decision yet. 
  • 215 Canterbury Road, Blackburn. – Removal of 17 trees. No forum as yet. 
  • 207 Canterbury Road – illegal removal of 6 large Eucalypts in January. Pending infringement notice. 
  • 225 Canterbury Road, Blackburn. Corner of Boulton Road – dual occupancy development. Still pending and no forum as yet.

Community Engagement:

There are a number of reviews that Whitehorse Council and the State Government conduct seeking community input. The links below open up to the consultation pages that encourage input.

You are encouraged to check regularly for issues of relevance requiring a community response.

City of Whitehorse Your Say Consultation portal – https://yoursay.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/

Engage Victoria portal                                             https://engage.vic.gov.au/   

Snippets

Mont Albert/Surrey Hills Level Crossing Update

Work is well underway and regrettably there has been significant tree removal. For an update see: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1kXxCVT61aDiP5wQkN1iysfOAz5VXne1Z8yxpg0kn25E

Or check out the Surrey Hills Progress Association website at:

https://www.surreyhillsprogress.org.au/

Box Hill Structure Plan Update from Whitehorse Council

The Tree Society has a vital interest in the Box Hill Structure Plan, particularly in our advocacy for the provision of sufficient parkland, open ‘green’ spaces, trees, shrubs, suitable walk/cycleways and access to public transport as well as addressing other quality of life concerns for this high-rise ‘second CBD’ in Melbourne. 

In May 2020 a proposed planning scheme amendment to implement the latest Box Hill Draft Structure Plan and Draft Urban Design Framework was considered by Council and submitted to the state minister for Planning and the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) for review and feedback.

Revised amendment documents were subsequently considered by Council in November 2021 and sent for Ministerial authorisation. The documents are currently with DELWP for review.

If authorised, public exhibition for at least one month follows. Property owners and occupiers affected plus those who provided feedback or wished to be kept informed from the previous community engagement will be advised of the amendment if it proceeds.

Anyone may make a submission to Council during the exhibition period. For more information, see:

https://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/planning-building/planning-strategies/planning-studies-andpolicies/vision-box-hill

Eastsider News February 2022 Edition

Eastsider News is a bimonthly digital publication containing news, opinion pieces and interesting articles for residents living in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs including the City of Whitehorse. Subscriptions are free and donations are gratefully accepted – please refer to the Eastsider News website at eastsidernews.org.au

The February publication contains a number of newsworthy articles of direct relevance to Tree Society members including:

  • ‘Tree Destruction in Whitehorse’ – Ross Gillespie, President, Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG) ● ‘Suburban Rail Loop – sweeping impacts on surrounding suburbs’ – Yvonne Bower, Susannah Aumann and Greg Buchanan
  • ‘Tree Loss Woes in Whitehorse’ – Dianne Tribe and Michael Hassett
  • ‘Eley Road Retarding Basin …a lost opportunity’ – Graham Ross, Convenor KooyongKoot Alliance
  • Greg Buchanan from the Surrey Hills/Mont Albert Progress Association was awarded the

Boroondara Citizen of the Year 2022 and a Whitehorse Community Achievement Award in January.

Greg has been a tireless worker for positive community and environmental outcomes as a consequence of the level crossing removal projects at Surrey Hills and Mont Albert

  • ‘Heatherdale Trees – Three generations of history in the Heatherdale Reserve’ – Elwynne Kift
  • ‘Melbourne bike paths – A blessing or a curse’ – Chris Trueman
  • ‘Designs released for new facilities at Wattle Park’ – Paul Hamer MP
  • An article on the Chisholm branch of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Congratulations to Students for the Planting Program at Blackburn Lake Primary School 

In a recent letter to the Principal of Blackburn Lake Primary School, Tree Society secretary Anne Payne OAM congratulated the 2021 Grade 6 students for their initiative in planning and planting indigenous plants on school land abutting the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. Anne’s letter stated that: ‘…The school is a valuable habitat corridor that links to the Sanctuary. This is one of the initiatives that the Tree Society is keen to see continue within the City of Whitehorse. So much of the City of Whitehorse’s tree canopy and supporting flora is declining rapidly. With the demand for high density development and the subsequent loss of habitat, coupled with the effects of climate change, it is encouraging to the Tree Society’s members, to hear of the Blackburn Lake Primary School students’ endeavours to increase the biodiversity in the school grounds. We encourage the students to think about applying for more projects through the Small Grants fund provided through the Blackburn and District Environment Fund.’

Is this tree still living?

The Whitehorse Historical Society website mentions a lofty stringybark in Parkside Avenue, Blackburn.

 “Local residents believe that in times long past it was the focus of an Aboriginal clan, the

Wurrundjeri, members of the Woiworrung tribe of the Kulin, original inhabitants of the Nunawading area, and that it was a place of ritual, of Koori culture, of the corroborees of the Wurundjeri people. 

The stringybark, which may be 250 years old, has been declared the oldest tree in Nunawading. 

The Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society has stated it is the oldest tree in Nunawading.  It is believed that the name of Nunawading derives from the Aboriginal word, numphawading, meaning a ceremonial ground or battlefield”

Bungalook Nursery News (Whitehorse Indigenous Plant Project Inc.)

The March 2022 edition of the Bungalook News is available for downloading from the nursery’s website at: https://www.wcipp.org.au/

The newsletter contains interesting articles on the Waterways of Whitehorse and a strategy for their management, a Bungalook nursery report and news from the city’s bushland parks including Heatherdale Creek Parklands, Blackburn Creeklands, Blackburn Lake and Yarran Dheran.

The Future for Trees in a Changing Climate 

An interesting, important and universally relevant article about the future of many tree species in this era of climate emergency (aka the Anthropocene Epoch). In a hotter Sydney, some trees will thrive while others will wither according to this article in ‘The Age’ newspaper:       

https://www.theage.com.au/national/nsw/in-a-hotter-sydney-some-trees-will-thrive-others-will-wither-

20220119p59pe5.html?btis

CSIRO ‘Ecos’ Article on Greening our Cities 

In this article Chris Thurmot interviews interdisciplinary ecologist Dr Brenda Lin about ‘best practice urban greening’. Refer: https://ecos.csiro.au/urbangreening/?utm_source=ECOS202111&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=ECOS

 ‘Every tree counts’: Dutch come up with cunning way to create forests for free 

An excellent article on a unique idea from the Netherlands to increase the tree canopy throughout the country.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/26/every-tree-counts-amsterdam-forest-leads-waywith-sapling-donation-plan?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

A direct quote from this ‘Guardian’ article demonstrates how advanced the Netherlands and the European Union are in tackling the world’s climate emergency compared with Australia:

‘A pledge to plant significantly more trees by 2030 is a key part of the Netherland’s climate change agreements, which Dutch courts have ordered the government to uphold.

Across Europe, the EU has promised to plant 3 billion trees by 2030, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 44%, and there are strategies to protect, boost and extend damaged forests, despite the challenges of land availability.

 Without urgent action, these are the street trees unlikely to survive climate change

This article from ‘The Conversation’ can be sourced a:

https://theconversation.com/without-urgent-action-these-are-the-street-trees-unlikely-to-surviveclimate-change-172758

Preferred Tree Contractors

The tree society committee has a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can be provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

The story of the Tree Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for nonmembers. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times 

The Tree Society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The meeting venue is the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Information Centre, Central Road Blackburn.  Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend Tree Society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details

Website:        http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com  for information on tree society activities.

Email:                        Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com  Postal address:         PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

COMMITTEE

President – David Morrison 9894 2531

Secretary – Anne Payne 9878 1152

Treasurer – Brad Baker

Membership Secretary – Dianne Tribe

Committee Members – David Berry, Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Robyn Weir & Colin Gridley

BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.  Aims to: •  Promote and improve the natural  environment      in the City of Whitehorse                                      •         Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131. Inc. no. A15207B

November 2021

Musings from the President

Hello to all Members and Friends of the Tree Society.

Great news – we are finally easing out of COVID restrictions and edging towards normality.  The Tree Society committee sends its best wishes to all for the upcoming festive season and  2022.

Upcoming Tree Society AGM

All Members (and Friends) are welcome to attend our combined Annual General Meeting/November committee meeting will be held on Wednesday November 10 from 2 to 4 pm at the Blackburn Lake Visitor’s Centre, Central Road Blackburn. Please enter the centre via the courtyard.

Tree Society 2021 President’s Annual Activities Report

During the past year there has been a dramatic increase in planning permit applications for tree removals and building works that warrant objections from the society because we don’t believe that they conform with the Whitehorse Planning Scheme (see list in this newsletter under ‘Local planning issues assessed and responded to by the society in the past year’).

Committee member Dianne Tribe has been performing a sterling job in writing many submissions to

Council opposing inappropriate developments and tree removals in the Blackburn area during 2021. But Dianne needs support, and the society committee is putting the call out for local Blackburn members to volunteer to help Dianne perform this onerous but necessary task for 2022.

Please contact Dianne Tribe or David Berry by email at bdtpsociety@gmail.com if you are able to actively engage in the preservation and enhancement of the city’s natural landscape character and oppose inappropriate developments.

Final TS NL #259 November 2021

In addition, the committee has been active in providing advice and support to local community groups in their advocacy to minimize tree and vegetation losses for major infrastructure projects including the Surrey Hills/Mont Albert level crossing removals and the North East Link project. 

Each of these projects will result in thousands of mature trees being cut down putting the city’s tree canopy under further threat than ever before.

Other initiatives involving action from the society included:

  • Formulating submissions to, and advocacy for, the Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy including helping Council coordinate a successful on-line community consultative meeting between community stakeholders and council officers in December 2020
  • Writing a detailed submission and articles on the accelerating tree canopy loss in Whitehorse on private and public land
  • Making a submission and presentation to Council on the on the draft 2021-2022 Budget encompassing issues including Council’s street tree planting and management program,

administration of the Whitehorse Public Open Space Reserve Fund, discrete funding for Council’s

Urban Forest Strategy and advocacy for ongoing funding and staff allocation for the implementation/administration of the SLO-9 tree controls

  • Nominating for Tree Society representation on the Whitehorse Environment and Sustainability Reference Group
  • Publishing three newsletters in April, July and November 2021.

The Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund (sponsored by the Tree Society) has been providing financial support for worthy environmental projects throughout 2021 including setting up the Kooyong Koot Alliance (thanks to Anne Payne for liaising with the group) and financial support for Council’s ‘My Favourite Tree’ photographic competition by donating money for plant vouchers redeemable at Greenlink Box Hill indigenous plant nursery.

During 2021 the Fund has received generous donations of $1,000 from John McMahon/Whitehorse Community Indigenous Project and $500 from the committee of the Victorian Biodiversity Conference that was held on-line in February 2021.  

The Tree Society committee was saddened to record the deaths of two environmental champions in the April 2021 newsletter:

  • Darcy Duggan, environmental scientist and ecologist and
  • Bob English who served society committee from 1966 to 1980 including president from 1975 to 1976, vice-president in 1973-74 and 1977 and newsletter editor from 1967 to 1974.

The Tree Society has now been in existence for over sixty years and its objectives (see below) are as important now as they were in 1959 (we weren’t living through a climate emergency way back then as we are now).

Tree Society Objectives:

  • Promote and improve the natural  environment in the City of Whitehorse
  • Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment
  • Disseminate information to members

On a personal note, I won’t be seeking re-election as the Tree Society’s president at this year’s AGM in November as I am now living in the City of Banyule closer to family.

I will remain on the committee for a further twelve months until the end of 2022 to help facilitate a younger, enthusiastic and committed cohort of committee members to guide the Tree Society into the future.

The Tree Society is currently at the crossroads and may not survive its seventh decade unless it attracts young, committed and active members to take over the mantle of caring for our natural environment in Whitehorse and beyond. The next 3-5 years will be crucial for the society, our membership now averages above 70 years of age, the activities of the Tree Society have increased markedly over recent years and there are too few active members doing the work of the society. So, if our members want the good works of the society to continue into the future, please become more active in this, your organization.

Thank you.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge fellow committee members Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Dianne Tribe, Anne Payne OAM, Brad Baker, Robyn Weir and Colin Gridley for their hard work and support for the Tree Society over the years. Thank you all and best wishes.

David Berry

A Celebration Les Smith’s involvement in the Tree Society 

Committee member, Anne Payne OAM is liaising with Council to establish a memorial to Les in the Blackburn Triangle and planting/plaque dedication ceremony is now scheduled for autumn 2022. 

Over 500 Trees Threatened with the Mont Albert/Surrey Hills Level Crossing Removals

The Surrey Hills and Mont Albert community is under threat of losing at least 550 trees due to the level crossing removal project in their neighbourhood. The project will create one new railway station between the two existing stations (destroying the precious Lorne Parade Reserve in the process) and remove the level crossings at Union Road Surrey Hills and Mont Albert Road Mont Albert by creating a trench for the rail line to run under the roads.

Trees under threat include those in Lorne Parade Reserve, Beresford Street, Churchill Street, Lorne Parade,     Montrose Street,         Sunbury Crescent and Windsor Crescent.      

Work started on 25th October 2021 and many trees have already been removed as of the publication of this newsletter.

The trees are invaluable – all mature, many significant and with a total amenity value in the millions of dollars. They have played a crucial role in contributing to the local landscape character, provided shade and cooler temperatures in local streets, attracted birdlife and their loss will be responsible for accelerating the tree canopy loss in localities already losing mature trees at a rapid rate.

Local community groups have developed a media kit to provide more detailed information on the issue. Please refer to: 

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1kXxCVT61aDiP5wQkN1iysfOAz5VXne1Z8yxpg0kn25E

For regular updates on the fight to save the trees in Mont Albert and Surrey Hills please check out the Surrey Hills Progress Association website at: https://www.surreyhillsprogress.org.au/

The website has a special web page about the level crossing removal issue and while you’re on the site please sign the petition to force (persuade?) the state government and contractors to save as many trees as possible with the level crossing removal works.

It’s time to get a Sibling in Boroondara!

The issue of the tree loss from the Surrey Hills / Mont Albert level crossing removal program has highlighted the need for a sibling group to the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society in the hopefully still to-be-leafy Boroondara. 

It’s needed, of course, to protect trees!  

Boroondara Council is planning an urban forest strategy development and a look at its tree protection local law, so the timing is good.  

The ‘Lighter Footprints’ environmental advocacy group has done some great work in this area as have others, but a dedicated tree preservation group seems to have merit if our experience is any guide.

If you might have an interest in this, either as a Boroondara (or Whitehorse) resident or a supporter, please contact Leigh Naunton on 0425 722 272 or email Leigh@naunton.name

The Tree Society has offered to provide some seed funding via the Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund to facilitate the setting up of a sister group in Boroondara.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund is sponsored by the Tree Society. The Fund’s Environment Grants Program is permanently open with up to $500 available for worthy environmental projects within (or beyond) Whitehorse including on-ground planting and educational activities, support for environmental causes and financial input to help residents and community groups battle inappropriate developments in Whitehorse (e.g. at VCAT). 

Projects worthy of funding in the future include:

  • Seed funding to set up a sister tree preservation organization in the City of Boroondara (see article elsewhere in this newsletter)
  • A donation to the on-line community newspaper Eastsider News
  • Financial support for the ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ program
  • Initiating an ‘Adopt a Street Tree’ program in conjunction with Council
  • Support for planting activities within Whitehorse parks including botanical gardens, bushland parks, reserves, sporting precincts, small and pocket parks, open spaces and the city’s golf courses
  • Financial support for Council’s Tree Assistance Program with a complementary ‘Tree Succession Planting Program’

The Fund committee is actively pursuing other community-driven environmental projects worthy of financial support and ideas from Members would be most welcome. 

Donations to the Fund can be made on-line via http://www.givenow.com.au/cause1518 or by completing and sending a cheque to the fund addressed to BDEPF, C/- The Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, VIC 3131.

The Kooyong Koot Alliance

In mid-September, the newly formed Kooyong Koot Alliance (Gardiner’s Creek) held a very successful planning workshop with representatives from Friends Groups along the Creek, including the Yarra Riverkeepers. 

The Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund, sponsored by the society, provided financial support to help facilitate the workshop.

The Alliance is now working on strategy action plans to ensure the structure and future viability of this group and has developed a mission statement: 

Communities working together to heal KooyongKoot, its waterways, land, and ecosystem 

The Alliance is pleased to have five members included in the invitation to attend the upcoming  2-day Gardiner’s Creek Forum managed by Stonnington Council. 

Stakeholders from the 5 local catchment municipalities (including Whitehorse), Deakin University,

Holmesglen TAFE, the Field Naturalists Club of Vic, Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water, Bicycle

Victoria, Yarra River Keepers, DEWLP and many  sporting clubs will come together to expedite the development of an ecological management and action plan for the Kooyong Koot Creek to enhance its value as a community asset. 

The brief is to consider the role organisations may play in principle, in bringing a shared vision for Gardiners Creek to life, the envisaged future state we will describe is to be achieved within approximately 10-15 years. The matter of whether the shared vision is for the Gardiners Creek catchment, or the Gardiners Creek corridor will be confirmed on the day’.  Anne Payne OAM

Report on the Whitehorse Tree Assistance Fund.

The purpose of Council’s Tree Assistance Fund is to support residents to manage the health of trees on their properties that have been identified as having significant characteristics and part of the Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) 1, 3 or 5.

Owners of eligible trees which are protected by the VPO can apply for a grant of up to $1,000 for works that support the health of the tree. A total of $40,000 will be available for this year’s fund. This is the second year the Tree Assistance Fund has operated, and the process has been streamlined so that arborist quotes are not required by owners to apply for funding.

Tree Society committee member Robyn Weir attended a meeting in July along with Whitehorse Council officers, Belinda Moody (Tree Education Officer) and Kim Marriott (Manager Planning and Building) plus two councillors and a consulting arborist.

The arborist had assessed all the significant trees on the register in the city of Whitehorse.  It is of note that there has not been an up-to-date assessment of significant trees for some time.

The trees were initially assessed by the arborist and divided into high moderate and low priority for arborist assistance. 

There were one hundred applications with $40,000 to be allocated.  

The owners of twenty-two trees in the high priority group were assigned a $1000 grant each and one property with eleven trees in that group was assigned $2000.  

Of those in the moderate priority group seventeen were given grants of $1000 each. Robyn Weir

Local planning issues assessed and responded to by the society in the past year

– – – – – – – – – – – – –    18 Glen Ebor Avenue Blackburn 9-13 Frankcom Street Blackburn 23 Baldwin Road Blackburn 1 Rosalind Street Blackburn 11 Wellington Avenue Blackburn 9 Jeffery Street Blackburn 74 Main Street Blackburn 33A Canterbury Road Forest Hill 1 Andrew Street Forest Hill  18 Masons Road Blackburn  1/101 Blackburn Road Blackburn  24 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn  39 – 41 Holland Rd Blackburn South – – – – – – – – – – – –    32 Strabane Ave Mont Albert North  Taralye/New Sense tree removals  110 Blackburn Road Blackburn  Gerald Street Blackburn Darook Street Blackburn South  147 Woodhouse Grove Box Hill North   36 Jeffery Street Blackburn 27-29 The Avenue Blackburn 10 Boulton Road Blackburn 6 Naughton Grove Blackburn 2 Wirreanda Court Blackburn 32 Laburnum Street Blackburn

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)1.

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com         Webhttp://www.crowag.com

The CROWAG AGM and final meeting of the year is scheduled for 17th November at the BLS Visitors’ Centre:

CROWAG AGM: Wednesday 17th November 2021              

7.30pm at Blackburn Lake Visitors Centre, followed by Committee meeting.  

Election of committee office holders will be held at the AGM. All positions will be declared vacant. 

An important agenda item for the committee meeting will be Action Plans and Recommendations from the August Planning Workshop report which was facilitated by Ross Gillespie.

A reminder from CROWAG President David Morrison about ‘Hands-on’ Community Engagement:

There are a number of reviews happening that are seeking community input for projects impacting Whitehorse.

To be heard you have to say something.

So if you feel inspired with our new found ‘freedom’, dive into a survey or two (and regularly check the two portals below for issues of relevance requiring a response by you into the future)

Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. 

If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy.’

Michael Moore

 City of Whitehorse Your Say Consultation portal https://yoursay.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/   Current Reviews of relevance: Suburban Rail Loop Advocacy LXRP Mont Albert – Masterplan Advocacy (Closed) Whitehorse Feedback and Complaints – Water Management Strategy       
 Engage Victoriahttps://engage.vic.gov.au/  –   Reviews of relevance: –                                                    Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 – https://engage.vic.gov.au/mfpf  Closed 24/10/21
LXRP Mont Albert/Surrey Hills – https://engage.vic.gov.au/lxrp-surrey-hillsand-mont-albert
Suburban Rail Loop – https://engage.vic.gov   .au/suburban-rail-loop-east

Snippets

A Message from Friends of the Earth’s Act on Climate Collective 

This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference to announce the government’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 and confirm it will stick with Tony Abbott’s weak 2030 climate target. While countries such as the US and UK will head to COP26 with a commitment to slash emissions by 50-63 percent by 2030, Australia will rock up with an embarrassing 26-28 percent target. This target is not supported by scientists, economists, nor the people of Australia.

On Friday the 5th of November we  can make our presence known outside the offices of Gladys Liu, Dr. Katie Allen, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg…

Will you join us?

We’re organising groups of 30 local residents to gather at MP offices in parallel events happening as part of a Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. DETAILS:

11:00am – 11:30am Chisholm (Gladys Liu MP) Click here to register.  1:00pm – 1:30pm Higgins (Dr. Katie Allen MP) Click here to register. 3:00pm – 3:30pm Kooyong (Treasurer Josh Frydenberg) Click here to register.

If you want to coordinate a parallel event at different MP’s office, please get in touch with Jarred Abrahams on 0468 862 503 or jarred.abrahams@foe.org.au

This event will be COVID Safe and will abide by the restrictions:

  • Maximum 30 people at each meeting
  • Social distancing
  • Masks where not possible to maintain social distancing
  • Only attendees that have been fully vaccinated
  • People who have COVID19 symptoms are asked to remain at home

These households are ditching gas, slashing bills and going ‘net zero’. Here’s how

In the short space of one year, Annabelle and Alex have slashed the money they spend on electricity, gas and petrol to zero. Here’s how they did it. Read the full story              

            Shared from ABC app

Australia cleared 3.5 million hectares of land in nine years. Check out the state-by-state breakdown

We’ve been compared with some of the worst countries on earth for land clearing, yet Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts data shows an increase in tree cover in Australia over the last 10 years. So what is actually going on with land clearing in Australia? 

Read the full story       Shared from ABC app

Inquiry into the Protections within the Victorian Planning Framework 

The Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee invites written submissions from individuals and organisations addressing one or more of the issues identified in the terms of reference. 

Of particular interest to the society and its members are the following items for examination by the committee: 

  • Environmental sustainability and vegetation protection;
  • Delivering certainty and fairness in planning decisions for communities, including:        
    • mandatory height limits and minimum apartment sizes
    • protecting Green Wedges and the urban growth boundary;
    • community concerns about VCAT appeal processes;
    • protecting third party appeal rights; (e) the role of Ministerial call-ins.
  • Protecting heritage in Victoria, including but not limited to: (g) penalties for illegal demolitions and tree removals.
  • ensuring residential zones are delivering the type of housing that communities want. 

The Tree Society committee requests that members make a submission to this important Inquiry and calls for a member volunteer to write a submission on behalf of the Tree Society (please call David Berry on 0413 457 184 to confirm details).

To assist with your submission, please see the guidelines for Making a Written Submission to a Parliamentary Committee.

The submission closing date is Monday, 31 January 2022.

Ways to make a submission:

  1. Email to planninginquiry@parliament.vic.gov.au
  2. Using the ‘Make a Submission’ form
  3. Hardcopy; send to: The Secretary, Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee, Parliament House, Spring Street, EAST MELBOURNE VIC 3002

All submissions should include your full name, contact details (either a postal address or phone number), the text of your submission or an attachment containing your submission and a clear indication if you are seeking confidentiality If you have any questions about the inquiry, please contact the committee secretariat.

Preferred Tree Contractors – The tree society committee has a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Tree Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times 

The tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The meeting venue is the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Information Centre, Central Road Blackburn.  Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details

Website:         http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.

Email:             Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com 

Postal address:         PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

 COMMITTEE 
President                  David Berry0413 457 184
Secretary                Anne Payne9878 1152
Treasurer               Brad Baker 
Membership SecretaryDianne Tribe 
Committee Members  Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Robyn Weir & Colin Gridley
BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.  Aims to: •  Promote and improve the natural  environment      in the City of Whitehorse Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment Disseminate information to members

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.

Inc. no. A15207B

July 2021 Newsletter

A Message from the President
It has been a difficult year so far for all of us with a number of Covid-inspired lockdowns and continued restrictions on normal activities – most importantly for Members and Friends residing in Melbourne. I hope you are all coping well with these restrictions and please be reminded that the best defence against this wily virus is to get fully vaccinated asap, practice good hygiene and wear a mask if you cannot guarantee your safety in social situations.

The Tree Society committee continues its work in advocating for the trees in Whitehorse despite these restrictions. Whether it be regularly checking the Whitehorse Planning Register and Planning Alerts for inappropriate development proposals that needlessly lead to the sacrifice of our precious trees, writing submissions and objections, appearing (via Zoom) at VCAT Hearings, liaising with Council or taking the message out to community groups, we are still functioning to the best of our ability in these trying times.

On a personal note, I have now been the president of the society for twenty-two years and I am giving notice, as foreshadowed at last year’s AGM, that I won’t be seeking re-election as the Tree Society’s president at this year’s AGM in November.

Furthermore, Sally and I have made the difficult decision to move from our home of over forty years in Blackburn South to take up digs closer to family. From mid-September we’ll be downsizing to a townhouse in Rosanna and thus my involvement with the society will inevitably wane.
However, if the society committee and members agree, I would like to stay on the committee for a further twelve months until the end of 2022 to help facilitate a younger, enthusiastic and committed cohort of committee members to guide the Tree Society into the future.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of being involved in the Tree Society and I believe that the work of community groups such as ours plays a pivotal role in protecting and enhancing the natural environment within Whitehorse and beyond as well as educating and effecting positive change in the broader public’s perceptions of the value of trees and nature.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge fellow committee members Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Dianne Tribe, Anne Payne OAM, Brad Baker, Robyn Weir and Colin Gridley for their hard work and support for the Tree Society over the years. Thank you all and best wishes.

David Berry
Final TS NL #258 July 2021
A Celebration Les Smith’s involvement in the Tree Society
Committee member, Anne Payne is liaising with Council to establish a memorial to Les in the Blackburn Triangle at a low key planting/plaque dedication ceremony later this year.
The memorial plaque is ready and the garden beds in the Blackburn Triangle have been prepared.

The wording on Les Smith’s plaque has been slightly amended to read:

In Memory of

Les Smith

Eminent local environmentalist, Les Smith OAM (21 Jan 1928 -16 Dec 2018) was at the forefront of environmental advocacy in Whitehorse.

Les was a champion for the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society, Whitehorse Bushland Parks, Bungalook Nursery, the Little Desert, Urimbirra Co-operative and Environment Victoria.

His legacy will live on in the natural world he fought so hard and with such good grace to preserve and enhance.

The Whitehorse Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG)
The Tree Society congratulates Whitehorse Council on its initiative to establish a community-based panel – the Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG).

Community member nominations were called for in May and further information on the group’s activities will be circulated when it is announced by Whitehorse Council.

The group’s membership will include two Councillors (Cr. Cutts and Cr. Liu), the General Manager City Development, four council officers (two from each Division and including one Council arborist) and eight community members. Community members are appointed for a two-year period and meetings will be held quarterly.

Our allied community group, CROWAG, has extended an invitation to the councillor representatives (Crs Liu and Cutts) to attend a CROWAG meeting in September to discuss the functions of the ESRG.
CROWAG and the society are keen to be involved with Council in addressing the wide range of sustainability and environmental matters in Whitehorse & determine how we can assist Council to enhance the best practice sustainability, environmental and planning credentials in Whitehorse.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund is sponsored by the Tree Society. The Fund’s Environment Grants Program is permanently open with up to $500 available for worthy environmental projects within (or beyond) Whitehorse including on-ground planting and educational activities, support for environmental causes and financial input to help residents and community groups battle inappropriate developments in Whitehorse (e.g. at VCAT).

Please refer to the article on the Kooyongkoot Alliance in this newsletter.
Other ideas worthy of consideration include:

  • Financial support for the ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ program
  • Initiating an ‘Adopt a Street Tree’ program in conjunction with Council
  • Support for planting activities within Whitehorse parks including botanical gardens, bushland parks, reserves, sporting precincts, small and pocket parks, open spaces and the city’s golf courses
  • Financial support for Council’s Tree Assistance Program with a complementary ‘Tree Succession Planting Program’

The Fund committee is actively pursuing other community-driven environmental projects worthy of financial support and ideas from Members would be most welcome.
Donations to the Fund can be made on-line via http://www.givenow.com.au/cause1518 or by completing and sending a cheque to the fund addressed to BDEPF, C/- The Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, VIC 3131.

The Kooyongkoot Alliance
The Kooyongkoot Creek is over 30 km in length. It rises in Blackburn where small creeks and gullies converge around Blackburn Lake. It then flows through Box Hill South, Burwood, and Ashwood. Near its junction with Scotchman’s Creek in Malvern East (at the Malvern Valley Golf Course) it turns northwest and flows through Ashburton, Glen Iris, Malvern, and Kooyong, before flowing into the Yarra River in Hawthorn. The creek is the only significant tributary flowing into the Yarra River from the south in the river’s lower reach.
Gardiners creek’s original name was KooyongKoot (from the Woiwurrung language of the
Wurundjeri Baluk group) which translates to ‘haunt of the waterfowl’. The Gardiner name was given in honour of early Melbourne land speculator and banker, John Gardiner, who settled near the junction of Kooyongkoot and the Yarra River in 1836. Increasingly both names are being used for the creek.
A few areas of remnant riparian bushland survive along its banks. However, the majority of its length has been heavily urbanised. Several tributaries feed into the creek the main ones being, Damper Creek, Scotchman’s Creek and Back Creek. There are currently twelve active Friends groups. Five councils form part of the catchment, but only one strategic plan is in place for the Creek — Stonnington’ Gardiners Creek (Kooyongkoot) Masterplan. The masterplan only addresses 14 % of the catchment.
At present, there is no ‘whole of system’ plan, the management of the area can be piecemeal, fragmented, and sometimes lacking in planning, biodiversity, water management etc. Representatives of the majority of Friends Groups in the catchment, along with the Yarra
Riverkeeper, have met to commence a process to develop a coordinated master plan to transform the creek to an asset for the community.
It is hoped that many stakeholders will include responsible Councils, Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water, and other government agencies, etc.
This is an opportunity to develop a model that recognises the high value of the creek and its tributaries to the community and set a standard for other such waterways in the future.

The Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund may be able to provide financial support to facilitate the development of an ecological management and action plan for the Kooyongkoot Creek and enhance its value as a community asset.

Tree Society Presentation re the Whitehorse Budget 2021-2022, June 2021
‘Thank you for the opportunity to make a presentation on behalf of the of the Tree Society. Whitehorse Council has implemented a number of initiatives concerned with the city’s natural environment over the past year, the most important of which is the development of a new
Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy 2021-2031. The Strategy is an impressive document with targets and an action plan to achieve 27% tree canopy cover by 2031and 30% by 2050. Currently the city’s tree canopy cover is around 18% and will decrease to less than 10% by 2040 unless drastic action is taken.
The Strategy needs to be supported as a major stand-alone initiative to help achieve Strategic Direction 3 – ‘Protect and Enhance our Open Space and Natural Environment ‘(refer page 27 of the budget paper).

However, no reference to the implementation of the Strategy is apparent in the budget document.

Major initiatives listed under Strategic Direction 3 include a review of potential waste service charge ($2.1 million) and the play space renewal program ($1.95 million), however, implementing the city’s urban forest strategy easily surpasses them in importance and urgency.
To achieve 27% tree canopy cover by 2031 there must be an ongoing budget commitment coupled with allocation of personnel – unfortunately there is no evidence of this in the budget.

Other environmental initiatives from council include:
• The Whitehorse Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG)
• The Whitehorse Tree Assistance Fund
• An Ecological Connectivity Study for Whitehorse and
• A Tree Census for Whitehorse
However, none of these initiatives were specific budget items in the 2021-2022 Budget papers.

Street Trees
$5.9 million has been allocated for parks, open spaces and streetscapes in the budget papers (refer pages 76, 82 & 83) with $300,000 allocated for street tree renewal and $150,000 for tree planting in the city’s parks.
The budget allocation for the Whitehorse street tree program has remained stagnant at ~ $300K per year for the past nineteen years and the society is alarmed that many of our local streets are lacking in street trees.
It is also disappointing to note that the overall budget allocation for parks, open spaces and streetscapes will decrease by almost 11% over the next four years with a projection of $5.256 million allocated in the 2024-2025 year (down from $5.9 million in this budget).
Council continues to support the funding of ‘big ticket’ items over the city’s parks, open spaces, streetscapes and passive recreational pursuits.
The resurgence of passive recreational pursuits in the ‘lockdown’ period caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is testament to the value placed on these indispensable community assets. Council resident surveys have emphasised that passive recreational pursuits such as walking, cycling and enjoying the city’s parks and open spaces are the most popular outdoor activities for the majority of Whitehorse residents when compared with active sporting activities.

Only minor adjustments are made in this Budget to address the needs of the bulk of Whitehorse residents. Overly generous funding allocations for sporting pavilions (last year $6+ million, this year $10 million), the Morack Golf Course (last year $5.2 million, this year $6.5 million) and the
Whitehorse Centre (last year $7.1 million, this year $18 million with another $40-50 million projected for 2022-23) are still favoured by Council over the city’s natural landscape.’

Detrimental Effects of the North East Link (NEL)
The Construction of the North East Link and associated works on the Eastern Freeway will:
• Double the width of the Eastern Freeway
The NEL will negatively impact the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen Road to the Ringwood tunnels – there will be at least double the number of lanes. Trees and shrubs in the freeway reserve will make way for bitumen surfaces
• Destroy adjacent Parks and Open Spaces
All linear parks, open spaces, waterways and shared use paths abutting the freeway are in imminent danger. Increasing freeway width will require the destruction of adjacent parklands and open space on both sides of the freeway from Bulleen Road through Mont Albert North, Box Hill North, Blackburn North, Nunawading and Mitcham.
Over 7,000 trees will be removed along the Eastern Freeway reserve with another 7,700 ‘potentially impacted (i.e. in grave danger of removal)
• Cause gridlock on our major North-South Roads
The main north-south roads in Whitehorse are ALL currently at or near ‘over-capacity’ at peak periods. Major road-widening will be needed to cope with the projected increase in traffic volumes on Elgar Road, Station Street, Middleborough Road, Surrey/Blackburn Road and Springvale Road.

North East Link (NEL) Tree and Canopy Losses
(Tables 4 & 5, page 56, NEL Environmental Effects Statement Summary Report) 15,000 trees will be removed or ‘potentially impacted’ to make way for the Eastern Freeway expansion alone.
Tree Society Submission (edited) to Whitehorse Council on the Whitehorse Draft Urban Forest Strategy 2021-2031
The Whitehorse Draft Urban Forest Strategy 2021-2031 (the ‘Strategy’), released for community consultation in May 2021, is a commendable document containing five Objectives and an Action Plan to achieve 27% tree canopy cover for Whitehorse by 2031 and 30% by 2050.
Currently the city’s tree canopy cover is around 18% and decreasing at a rapid rate (it will be less than 10% by 2040 unless drastic action is taken).

The Strategy needs to be supported as a major stand-alone initiative to help achieve Strategic Direction 3 – ‘Protect and Enhance our Open Space and Natural Environment ‘(refer page 27 of the draft Budget paper).

The society applauds the quality of the community consultation and engagement in the development of this Strategy, with special thanks to Council Officers Millie Wells, Belinda Moody, Steve Day, Grant McAdam, Ian Moodie and Callan Walker for organising a very successful webinar in early May. The webinar was interesting, illuminating, very professional and demonstrated the passion and expertise of our council officers in relation to preserving and enhancing the tree and vegetation canopy/cover and natural environment within Whitehorse.
This passion and commitment needs to be rewarded by funding the project such that achieves its stated objectives and targets.

The committee and membership of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. are willing to aid Whitehorse Council in implementing this important Strategy that will make our city ‘Green and Leafy’ once again.

How Dangerous are Trees in the Environment?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that for Victoria in the ten years between 2009 and 2018:
• Transport accidents killed 3,117 people
• Assaults led to the deaths of 503 people
• Drownings killed 293 people
• 86 people died from falling off ladders
• 11 people were killed by exploding gas cylinders
• 5 people were killed by falling out of trees
• 4 people were killed by lightning strikes
• No figures were found specifically related to deaths caused by trees or branches falling on people.

According to the UK government authority, the Health & Safety Executive:
• Between 5 and 6 people are killed each year in the UK when trees or branches fall on them in public and private spaces combined
• The population of the UK is 66.4 million (2018 figures)
• The risk of being struck and killed by a tree or branch falling is extremely low
• This risk, in the order of one in 10 million, is equivalent to the risk of being struck and killed by lightning each year.

Current Planning Issues
A summary of current of planning issues requiring the Tree Society’s input follows:

  • 9-13 Frankcom Street Blackburn – the site is up for sale (again!) with original permit and conditions acceptable to local residents and community groups including the Tree Society.
  • 1 Andrew Street Forest Hill –The VCAT hearing was held on 28 and 29 June. There was good representation by David Song for council. Residents paid for their own arborist as the Council arborist and Applicant’s arborist reports all supported removal of tree. Residents employed Mark Reynolds from Arbor Survey. A suggestion that could be taken up is recommending to council that council have their own arborist rather than contracting out. The applicant sought a VCAT review of many of the Permit Conditions set by Council, many of which are related to the trees and vegetation on site. The society was represented at VCAT by committee member Dianne Tribe with Robyn Weir also making a presentation on behalf of the residents at the hearing
  • 18 Masons Road Blackburn – A VCAT hearing was held in May and Dianne Tribe made a presentation on behalf of the Tree Society and in support of Council. Council and the community’s arguments were disadvantaged as the Council arborist had no objection to what was being proposed.
  • 1/101 Blackburn Road Blackburn – The society opposed an extension to one of the dwellings due to site overdevelopment leaving restricted open garden space for shrub and canopy tree plantings. No further information has been received on the fate of this planning application
  • 24 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – Still pending a decision by Council.
  • 74 Main Street Blackburn – A permit was granted with the 2 Corymbias in the frontage retained and some minimal improvement to the Landscape Plan.
  • 39 – 41 Holland Rd Blackburn South – Still pending a decision by Council.
  • 32 Strabane Ave Mont Albert North – Tree Society submission in February objecting to the plans for a massive over-development of this site (eleven double-storey units) and the removal of 26 trees (at least 7 if which should be retained). Council has refused to grant a Permit for this development. The applicant is taking the council decision to VCAT for review. A Practice Day hearing was held on 25 June and a Compulsory Conference on 9 July. Another Compulsory Conference is scheduled for 29 July when the Applicant’s revised plans will be discussed with a view to reaching an agreed position on the development. If we cannot agree the VCAT hearing will be held from 27 to 29 September. David Berry will make a presentation at VCAT on behalf of the society if required.
  • 333A Canterbury Rd Forest Hill – went to council on 28 June. It was unanimously approved that the proposal of removal of trees in a staged removal take place. the first being 13 trees, then 8 then 7. at each stage they were to be replaced by the same number of trees of similar dimensions. There was also the provision of relocating any fauna.
  • Taralye/New Sense tree replacements – awaiting an official response from Council to community concerns about multiple tree removals from the site.
  • 110 Blackburn Road Blackburn – 6 trees to be removed. This is still awaiting a Consulting Arborist’s report.
  • 2 Gerald Street Blackburn – The society lodged an objection to this planning application in late April citing the virtual moonscaping of the site, loss of canopy trees, retention of environmental weed trees, the provision of a sub-standard landscape plan and over-dominance of the proposed built form
  • 3 Darook Street Blackburn South – The society objected to a residential development planning application in March that included the removal of four trees and works within 4 metres of protected trees under SLO-9. Council has granted a permit with conditions including the retention of Trees #13 (Corymbia ficifolia) and #15 (Eucalyptus robusta), the removal of a retaining wall within the SRZ of Tree #13, a requirement to plant two canopy trees (12+ metres high when mature) and the protection of the tree root zones of retained trees during construction.
  • 147 Woodhouse Grove Box Hill North – A planning application for multi-unit development on this historically important site complete with significant indigenous trees was objected to by residents and the society with Council subsequently refusing to grant a permit. A VCAT hearing scheduled for ten days in October will review council’s decision. The society has put in Statements of Grounds (SOGs) opposing the development but won’t be appearing at VCAT.

Millie Wells is leaving Whitehorse
Millie Wells, the Whitehorse Council Coordinator Strategy and Environmental Planning in the Parks and Natural Environment Department is leaving her position at Whitehorse in mid-July to take up a new role at Darebin City Council.
This is devastating news (from a selfish Whitehorse perspective that is) and our loss will definitely be Darebin’s gain – Millie has been a strong advocate for the natural environment in Whitehorse during her tenure at Council over a number of years.

The Tree Society committee has worked with Millie on many programs related to the city’s natural environment during this time and Millie’s ability and willingness to work cooperatively with community groups and residents to achieve positive outcomes was/is outstanding.

Millie has been instrumental in setting up the city’s Gardens for Wildlife program, supporting environmental education (for residents, councillors and council officers) and more latterly, driving the development of the Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy 2021-2031.

The Tree Society committee, Members and Friends thank you for your work in Whitehorse Millie, your efforts will be valued for decades into the future.
(David Berry)

Response to Councillor Motion from the 28 June 2021 Whitehorse Council Meeting Minutes (Excerpt) : VicSmart Applications for Tree Removal
‘The VicSmart planning permit application process is a streamlined planning permit assessment process for straightforward applications which are determined within 10 business days. Under the VicSmart process, a council may specify local classes of VicSmart applications for any class of application in a zone, overlay or particular provision.
This report examines the types of VicSmart applications that Council receives, in particular, where multiple VicSmart applications have been sought to remove more than one tree on a property and recommends that Council write to the Minister for Planning seeking changes to the VicSmart planning provisions.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION Moved by Cr Cutts, Seconded by Cr Massoud That Council:

  1. Note this report providing examples of multiple VicSmart applications for tree removal on individual properties.
  2. Write to the Minister for Planning, copying in all local members of State Parliament, seeking an amendment to the VicSmart planning provisions to prohibit the application of more than one VicSmart application for tree removal per property per calendar year.
    CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

Whitehorse – A ‘Water Sensitive City’
Whitehorse Council is developing a strategy in collaboration with Melbourne Water and Yarra Valley Water to manage water more holistically. The strategy will address all elements in the urban water cycle to begin transitioning towards a water sensitive city. The main aim of the Water Management Strategy will be to build urban resilience and adapt to climate change and includes improving how we manage creeks, waterways and wetlands; stormwater, flooding and drainage; irrigation of parks and gardens & alternative water sources.

Online survey – all things water – Please complete the short online survey (see link below), the feedback from which will help shape and prioritise the strategy:
https://yoursay.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/waterstrategy

Photo competition – Water – To compliment the survey, the photo competition will showcase what our community values about water in Whitehorse. Four lucky winners will win a $100 voucher for the Acre Farm Eatery at the Burwood Brickworks shopping complex. Please submit great photos of the creeks and wetlands, or anything water (rainfall, irrigation, drinking water etc.) in Whitehorse by accessing the following link:
https://yoursay.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/waterstrategy/brainstormers/photo-competition-2

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)1.
Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com Web – http://www.crowag.com
CROWAG’s most recent meeting was in May 2021 and issues discussed and acted on included:

  • An invitation will be sent to Crs Cutts and Liu, councillor reps on the newly created Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG), to a CROWAG meeting in July or September.
    CROWAG will be able to talk with the Crs about the objectives of the group and ways that CROWAG can facilitate the process to achieve optimal outcomes for the environment, sustainability and planning in Whitehorse. One issue that CROWAG wants to be discussed at the ESRG is its initiative – Proposed Green Notices for Building Sites
  • Action Plan Workshop for CROWAG going forward – planning for a July or August workshop to be facilitated by Ross Gillespie
  • CROWAG is developing a tool kit that can be used by community groups and residents to identify and comment on inappropriate developments and single tree removal applications via VicSmart. The tool will utilize ‘Planning Alerts’ ‘Snap-Send-Solve’ and council’s Planning Register to achieve stated outcomes and show community concern particularly at the massive tree losses currently occurring on private land in the guise of development. The tool will be extended to include familiarization with Council and VCAT on-line objection procedures
  • Whitehorse Council CEO Mr. Simon McMillan and Stuart Cann, Acting General Manager, Corporate Services will be invited to a future CROWAG meeting to discuss a number of issues of relevance to CROWAG including the Whitehorse Budget process
  • A separate meeting between CROWAG and WCC Planning Department reps is being organized to discuss planning issues of concern to CROWAG and member groups
  • Regular reports from the Surrey Hills Progress Association are tabled and discussed concerning the Level Crossing Removals for Union Rd, Surrey Hills and Mont Albert Rd, Mont Albert scheduled for 2022. Final plans expect to be released mid-June 2021.
  • The next CROWAG meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 21st July 2021 at Blackburn Lake Visitors Centre starting at 7.30pm

Snippets
National Tree Day in Whitehorse
National Tree Day in Whitehorse will be celebrated on Sunday 1 August from 10am to 1pm in Gardiners Creek (near the Fletcher Parade bridge) in Burwood. The site organizer is Cassie Lukies and further details can be obtained at https://treeday.planetark.org/site/10025017 Tree Care for Gardeners
As part of National Tree Day Whitehorse Council has organised arborist Ben Kenyon to talk about tree care for gardeners. The event will be held on Monday 26th July between 7pm and 8 pm in the Willis Room at the Whitehorse Civic Centre, 379-397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading.
The presentation requires registration and it’s an easy process – just click on the following link:
https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/161033151491

Will your grandchildren have the chance to visit Australia’s sacred trees?

An important message about trees in Australia and their importance for First Nations people. This article was recently published in The Conversation and can be sourced at:
https://theconversation.com/will-your-grandchildren-have-the-chance-to-visit-australias-sacred-trees-only-ifour-sick-indifference-to-aboriginal-heritage-is-cured-163581

People’s odds of loneliness could fall by up to half if cities hit 30% green space targets Another recent article well worth a read and sourced from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/peoples-odds-of-loneliness-could-fall-by-up-to-half-if-cities-hit-30-green-spacetargets-161989

Tree chop underestimated by 80 per cent on North East Link
An article in The Age from early June reported that the North East Link authority has underestimated the number of trees to be removed by up to 80% in the northern section of the works, specifically in and around Borlase Reserve, Yallambie.
This is disturbing news and the Tree Society believes that this is a portent of the wholesale destruction of thousands of trees along the Eastern Freeway and in adjacent parks and reserves over the next few years during the massive widening of the freeway.
The article can be sourced at: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/tree-chop-underestimated-by-
80-per-cent-on-north-east-link-20210601-p57wyo.html?btis

Preferred Tree Contractors – The tree society committee has a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees
Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Tree Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times
The tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. The AGM is held (as always) in November.
The meeting venue is the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Information Centre, Central Road Blackburn. Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details
Website: http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.
Email: Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com
Postal address: PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

 COMMITTEE   

President
David Berry 0413 457 184
Secretary Anne Payne 9878 1152
Treasurer Brad Baker
Membership Secretary Dianne Tribe
Committee Members
Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Robyn Weir & Colin Gridley

BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.
Aims to: • Promote and improve the natural environment in the City of Whitehorse
• Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment
• Disseminate information to members
If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.
Inc. no. A15207B

April 2021 Newsletter

Welcome Aboard

The Tree Society warmly greets two new committee members, Robyn Weir and Colin Gridley who join Brad Baker, David Berry, Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Anne Payne OAM and Dianne Tribe on the committee.
Their inputs on behalf of the natural landscape in Whitehorse will be most valuable.

Membership

The Tree Society urgently needs new, young and actively committed members.
Please get the message out that we need more active members to help stem the massive losses of trees on private property and public land in Whitehorse. The society, along with other like-minded community groups needs to be vigilant in seeking and reporting illegal tree removals within the city, particularly now that the whole of Whitehorse is covered by tree protection controls via significant Landscape Overlays 1 through 9.

The society distributes complementary newsletters to over one hundred individuals and groups that are deemed Friends of the society.
The Tree Society committee encourages our many Friends to become Financial Members of the society to support our important work advocating for the natural landscape.
Membership forms are available on the website: http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com OR Via email: mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com

NB: Please make sure to include a full name when paying by direct bank transfer so that subscription payments can be confirmed (as well as sending completed membership renewal forms to the society via email or snail mail – refer details on the membership form available on the society’s website).

Whitehorse Trees at Crisis Point

The Tree society is urging our Members and Friends to advocate for stronger tree protection controls in Whitehorse and more broadly throughout Victoria. Recent research has demonstrated that the tree canopy in Whitehorse has reduced from 22.3% in 2014 to under 20% in 2018. This finding from an RMIT Centre for Urban Research study, Urban Vegetation Cover Change 20142018, published in July 2019 reinforces earlier research detailed in the report Benchmarking
Australia’s Tree Canopy: An i-Tree Assessment (2014) by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney. The latter study used a municipal tree canopy assessment tool to measure tree canopy and found that Whitehorse had 22.9% tree canopy cover in 2014. Subsequent measurements have demonstrated a steady decline in the urban tree canopy similar to the conclusions from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research study.

If this tree canopy loss is not addressed then Whitehorse will have less than 10% tree canopy cover by 2040.

Evidently over 1,000 trees are removed annually on private land within Whitehorse with little or no attempt at establishing or administering a tree succession program – and because most trees in urban environments are in private ownership there needs to be an immediate response in favour of tree retention.
However the authorities at State and Local level keep passing the buck and either appear powerless or unwilling to act.

The city’s trees are under threat as never before due to:

  • The relentless push for infill development with multi-unit developments and overblown
    ‘McMansions’ being built on average-sized lots requiring mass tree and vegetation removal prior to construction and too little room for replacement plantings including for canopy trees once these long-term unsustainable dwellings have been built
  • The illegal removal of trees and the low fines meted out by the State and Local authorities
  • The introduction of the fast-tracked VicSmart single tree planning approval process that lacks transparency and is being unscrupulously ‘gamed’ by irresponsible landowners and developers without, it appears, any willingness to close the loopholes by state or local government authorities
  • The massive loss of trees and vegetation caused by major infrastructure projects in Whitehorse including level crossing removals and the proposed North East Link
  • The city’s street trees under pressure to survive in the face of urban threats, including disproportionate lopping due to their proximity to powerlines, pollution and the current and worsening climate emergency
  • The city’s parks and open spaces are vulnerable – there is insufficient open space in
    Whitehorse because of the city’s burgeoning population and the increasing popularity of parks and open spaces, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown
  • Urban open spaces being increasingly viewed as ‘wasted space’ ripe for economic gain via residential, industrial or commercial development.

In relation to trees in private ownership there are two specific areas where the authorities need to act:

  1. The use and misuse of the VicSmart planning application process for single tree removals
    The objective of VicSmart was to streamline the planning process and lead to better planning outcomes for all stakeholders but the process lacks transparency and is being ‘gamed’ by unscrupulous owners and developers. The VicSmart planning process for single-tree removals however is currently being misused, for example, developers and residents are submitting multiple single applications to circumvent the intended checks that would be required for a normal planning application that would be assessed by council planners via council Planning Schemes. In addition, the process lacks third-party transparency.
  2. Retention of Tree Canopy through meaningful Enforcement
    Residential infill development and the tendency to build larger houses are negatively impacting the urban residential tree canopy. The excessive removal of existing trees and vegetation to create larger built structures inevitably results in the provision of little or no space for successful replacement tree plantings.
    Metropolitan planning schemes provide for limited tree protection and mandates some space for gardens however there is little in the way of enforcement and existing financial penalties do not deter tree removal and compensatory canopy tree replacement rarely occurs.
    Trees are a crucial urban amenity however the illegal removal of trees in Victoria is either ignored by the authorities or, for the small number of successful court cases, a small fine not exceeding $2,000 results. This is not significant enough to discourage excessive tree removal by landowners and developers.
    By contrast in NSW meaningful tree protection has applied since 1979. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 provides that the maximum penalty for illegal tree removal or destruction in breach of the Act is a fine of $1.1 million and a further fine of $110,000 for each day that the offence persists. In addition to imposing a fine, the NSW Act permits the court to order a person convicted of illegal tree removal/destruction to plant and maintain new trees to maturity, and to provide a financial security for the performance of any obligation of this kind.
    The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 allows councils to make provisions in relation to protecting or preserving trees or vegetation via Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Breaching a TPO is a criminal offence and essentially the Order prohibits the removal of trees 5 metres in height and taller, unless prior approval from the council has been obtained or the tree is a declared noxious environmental weed.

Actions: The Tree Society, fully supports the actions of its affiliated community group – CROWAG Inc. in advocating to local MPs, the State Planning Minister, Whitehorse councillors, the Whitehorse CEO and allied community groups in other municipalities to :
§ Close the loop-holes in the VicSmart planning process to prevent rorting and simultaneously make the process more transparent for third parties and
§ Strengthen the penalty regime for illegal tree removal on residential land in Victoria. The legislation already exists in NSW and thus can be easily achieved in our state. A tougher Victorian legislative regime will help address the serious threat to the natural residential landscape character in Victoria.

How can we measure the effectiveness of these actions?
In Whitehorse a laudable objective would be to halt the substantial tree and vegetation loss at 15% canopy cover within four years with a subsequent 1% increase per year such that a tree canopy cover of 30% will be achieved by 2040.

A Celebration Les Smith’s involvement in the Tree Society – the ‘Les Smith Groves’

Committee member, Anne Payne is liaising with Council to establish a memorial to Les in the Blackburn Triangle at a low key planting/plaque dedication ceremony later this year.
The memorial plaque is ready and the garden beds in the Blackburn Triangle are being prepared. A tentative date has been set for World Environment Day on Friday 5 June, a highly appropriate date to celebrate Les Smith’s monumental contribution to the natural environment within Whitehorse .

The Whitehorse Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG)

The Tree Society congratulates Whitehorse Council on its initiative to establish a community-based panel – the Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG).

A Motion to set up the ESRG was passed unanimously at Council on 30 November 2020 and its primary role will be to:
‘… provide advice on a wide range of sustainability and environmental matters for an initial two-year period until April 2023, at which time the arrangement will be reviewed …’

The Tree Society notes that the ESRG will be established by April 2021 and that the group will be made up of two Councillors (Cr. Cutts and Cr. Liu), the General Manager City Development, four council officers (two from each Division and including one Council arborist) and eight community members. Community members are appointed for a two-year period and meetings will be held quarterly.

The Tree society is concerned that as of mid-April 2021 the Terms of Reference have not been finalised or circulated and nominations for community positions have yet to be advertised

Our allied community group, CROWAG, has extended an invitation to the councillor representatives
(Crs Liu and Cutts) to attend a CROWAG meeting in May or July to discuss
the functions of the ESRG, the priorities in addressing the wide range of sustainability and environmental matters in Whitehorse & a general discussion on how CROWAG can assist Council to enhance the sustainability, environmental and best practice planning credentials in Whitehorse.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund is sponsored by the Tree Society. It is currently undergoing a ‘makeover’ in terms of its objectives and the types of projects that it supports both within and external to Whitehorse.

The Fund’s Environment Grants Program is permanently open with up to $500 available for worthy environmental projects within (or beyond) Whitehorse including on-ground planting and educational activities, support for environmental causes and financial input to help residents and community groups battle inappropriate developments in Whitehorse (e.g. at VCAT).
Refer to the Fund’s website below for further details and the application form.

A recent initiative is the Fund’s financial support for Council’s current ‘My Favourite Tree’ photographic competition by donating plant vouchers redeemable at Greenlink Box Hill for subsidiary winners to obtain indigenous plants to plant in their gardens.

Other ideas worthy of consideration include:

  • Financial support for the ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ program
  • Initiating an ‘Adopt a Street Tree’ program in conjunction with Council
  • Support for planting activities within Whitehorse parks including botanical gardens, bushland parks, reserves, sporting precincts, small and pocket parks, open spaces and the city’s golf courses
  • Financial support for Council’s Tree Assistance Program with a complementary ‘Tree
    Succession Planting Program’

In recent months the Fund has received generous donations of $1,000 from John
McMahon/Whitehorse Community Indigenous Project and $500 from the committee of the Victorian Biodiversity Conference that was held on-line in February 2021. The plenary speakers at the conference donated the monetary equivalent of the gifts they would have received for speaking.
The Tree Society committee has expressed its gratitude to the two organizations and John for their generous donations that will be spent on worthy environmental projects within Whitehorse.

The Fund committee is actively pursuing other community-driven environmental projects worthy of financial support and ideas from Members would be most welcome.
Donations to the Fund can be made on-line via http://www.givenow.com.au/cause1518 or by completing and sending a cheque to the fund addressed to BDEPF, C/- The Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, VIC 3131.

Tree Society Suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of Council’s Urban Forest Strategy

Whitehorse Council is in the process of finalizing a new Urban Forest Strategy designed to better manage trees and vegetation across both private and public land in the city.
Following a meeting of community representatives with council Officers in December 2020, the society forwarded the following ideas to be considered for inclusion in the strategy to maximize its effectiveness:

  • Local councils including Whitehorse need to advocate more strongly to state government, semigovernment authorities and major contractors to minimize tree and vegetation losses for major infrastructure projects. Major local projects include the North East Link, local level crossing removals and the planned suburban rail loop through the western suburbs of Whitehorse. A commitment from government to fund the offset planting of replacement trees and vegetation within the city’s local parks, open spaces and streets needs to be secured with plantings at a ratio of three new trees/shrubs for every one removed
  • The streamlined VicSmart planning approval process for single tree removals on private land needs to be reviewed to close loopholes. Exploitation of VicSmart by developers and residents has resulted in multiple tree removals on building sites thus avoiding the normal transparent planning permit application process
  • Whitehorse council needs to join other councils in lobbying the state government to increase the fines for illegal tree removal on private property. The fines are currently around $2,000 in Victoria in contrast to NSW which has had legislation in place since 1979 with fines up to $1.1 million for breaches and further daily fines of $110,000 if the offence persists.
  • Incentives (e.g. rate reductions, free plants and tree assessments/remedial work) for residents to plant suitable trees and other vegetation in their gardens
  • Inducements for residents to have multiple street trees and vegetation (other than turf) on their nature-strips
  • Rewards for residents abutting biolink corridors (e.g. streets, parks, road reserves and waterways) to plant indigenous plants at least on the perimeter of their land to promote biodiversity and native fauna mobility. A copy of the society’s ‘Whitehorse Bushland Parks and Links’ map is attached FYI
  • Extension of council’s Tree Education program to promote the values and practicalities of greening the city. This could include a residents’ kit aimed at new residents and developers containing information on preserving and enhancing the city’s natural landscape generally. Also included would be useful strategies for individual residents to implement on their properties to aid in the re-greening process (e.g. council’s very successful ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ program should be more actively promoted to new residents and developers)
  • Expansion of the role of the Tree Education Officer unit (i.e. more staff) to include education of and consultation with residents re the merits of individual tree fates (along with council’s arborist
    +/- local laws officers) in relation to building works and tree removal applications
  • A clarification/definition of what constitutes a canopy tree is crucial to the success of the urban forest strategy. There appear to be a number of differing perceptions of a canopy tree with many planning applications citing tall, thin ornamental pear-type tree forms as ‘canopy’ trees. For a tree to perform the functions listed in the strategy’s background document it needs to be of a reasonable height and spread so it can provide shade to a considerable area and mitigate
    extremes of temperature. So we need definitions for tall, medium and small canopy trees coupled with species examples for each category. This information would be most useful for residents, developers, community groups, council planners and VCAT members .

Current Planning Issues

A summary of current of planning issues requiring the Tree Society’s input follows:

  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – The developer amended the plans from four to three townhouses. A VCAT hearing was held in August 2020. The VCAT Order supported Council’s decision to refuse the planning permit application
  • 9-13 Frankcom Street Blackburn – A compulsory conference was held in mid-September and a 3-day VCAT hearing in November. The applicant sought to amend the plans (and thus vary the Permit conditions) for a multi-storey building with associated tree removal. The subsequent VCAT Order received recently was a win for council and the community. The Member ordered that the original Planning Permit and Conditions remain in force
  • 1 Andrew Street Forest Hill – The applicant is going to VCAT for review of the bulk of the Permit Conditions set by Council, many of which are related to the trees and vegetation on site. The society has lodged a Statement of Grounds and a VCAT Compulsory Conference is scheduled for end-April with a VCAT Hearing to follow
  • 18 Masons Road Blackburn – The applicant has applied for a VCAT hearing, scheduled for mid-May 2021, to review council’s decision. The society will be appearing at the Hearing in support of Council
  • 1/101 Blackburn Road Blackburn – The society opposed an extension to one of the dwellings due to site overdevelopment leaving restricted open garden space for shrub and canopy tree plantings. Council has not yet made a decision on this planning application
  • 1 Rosalind Crescent Blackburn –The planning permit application has been withdrawn
  • 9 Jeffery Street Blackburn – The society initially objected the removal of up to eleven Pittosporum undulatum from this property in November however this objection was moderated by the fact that the trees were all environmental weeds. The owners were keen to plant suitable replacement species, sourced from WCIPP/Bungalook community indigenous plant nursery, after seeking advice from council’s Tree Education Officer. A permit for removal has been granted by council
  • 24 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – In February the society objected to a planning permit application for a large dwelling to be built on this property citing overdevelopment of the site, lack of space for trees and insufficient number of canopy trees for planting post-construction
  • 74 Main Street Blackburn –The Tree Society objected to a planning permit application to demolish an existing dwelling and construct a single-storey dwelling including tree and vegetation removal and works within 4 metres of protected trees. The site would have been ‘moonscaped’ but the applicant has since decided to retain four trees and add two more canopy trees. The site will still be overdeveloped and the society remains an objector to the planning proposal
  • 39 – 41 Holland Rd Blackburn South – TS objection (24/2/21) citing virtual moonscaping of the site with 14 trees to be removed incl remnant Eucalypts, site over-development, sub-optimal replacement species & net deficit of canopy trees if the development proceeds
  • 32 Strabane Ave Mont Albert North – TS objection (24/2/21) citing massive site overdevelopment (nine double-storey units), removal of 26 trees (at least 7 if which should be retained). Little unencumbered open space for retained trees or new tree plantings, deficient landscape plan, no planting plan & 1 street tree removal. Council has refused to grant a Permit for this development
  • 333aCanterbury Rd Forest Hill– A consultation forum was held on 17th March. Robyn, Dianne & Colin attended. Several weed trees able to be removed. A staged removal would be preferrable
  • Taralye tree replacements – no response from Council as yet
  • 3 Darook Street Blackburn South – The society objected to this application for a Planning Permit for the removal of four trees, demolition of an existing dwelling, construction of a twostorey dwelling and works within 4 metres of trees protected under SLO-9

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)1. Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com Web – http://www.crowag.com CROWAG has held two meetings in January and March 2021.
Issues discussed and acted on include:

  • The weak response from Council (per the CEO) to CROWAG’s recent letter criticising council’s community consultation process associated with the development of the draft Whitehorse Community Engagement Policy
  • Continuing CROWAG’s push for Council to introduce a Green Notice system within the Whitehorse Planning Scheme. Green Notices will provide transparency and certainty on the fates of existing trees and vegetation on development sites and include information on replacement trees and vegetation to offset any losses
  • VicSmart deficiencies and misuse – CROWAG has written a number of letters to the State Minister for Planning, the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Local Government
    Association on this issue with minimal or no response. Similar letters will be sent to all local MPs, Whitehorse Councillors and allied community groups in metropolitan Melbourne which will hopefully achieve more positive outcomes
  • Paltry fines for illegal tree removals on private property – see as for VicSmart issue above
  • Members Geoff White and Elizabeth Meredith are providing reports to CROWAG re planning and actions involving the level crossing removals at Mont Albert and Surrey Hills
  • Advocacy in support of Council’s community-focused Environment and Sustainability Reference Group (ESRG). Invitations will be forwarded to Crs Cutts and Liu to attend a CROWAG meeting in May or July to discuss their roles as the councillor representatives on the ESRG
  • The use of ‘Planning Alerts’ and ‘Snap-Send-Solve’ to identify and comment on planning applications within the city with particular reference to inappropriate development proposals associated with tree and vegetation removals
  • The publishing of an article about CROWAG in the February edition of the ‘Eastsider News’

Darcy Duggan
Tree Society members will be saddened to hear that Environmental Scientist and Ecologist, Darcy Duggan died from Leukemia on 31st October 2020.
Darcy was a true Friend of the Tree Society who gave of his expertise generously’ in a lifetime of passion for community connectedness, advocating for more stringent environmental protections and holding governments at all levels, to account for their actions or lack thereof

Darcy Duggan in the Bush
(Courtesy Ferny Creek Friends Group)
His dedication, enhancement and restoration of the unique and valuable environment of the Yarra Ranges has been a life’s work, to which he has contributed tirelessly. Darcy was well connected and respected for his extensive bushland management, weed control, waterway health and restoration knowledge.
He always responded to any requests to visit public and private land. Darcy has generously taught generations of students, volunteers, conservationists and environmental workers about local flora and fauna. In the words of Yarra Ranges Council’s coordinator of biodiversity conservation, Amanda Smith “He will be hugely missed by so many of us, but the plants, wildlife and bushland have greatly benefited from his knowledge, advocacy and actions. His dedication, enhancement and restoration of the Yarra Ranges unique and valuable environment has been a life’s work, to which he has contributed tirelessly.

Robert (Bob) English
It is with much sadness that the Tree Society committee marks the recent passing of Bob English. Bob served with distinction on the Tree Society committee from 1966 to 1980. He was president from 1975 to 1976 and vice-president in 1973-74 and again in 1977.
Bob was also the editor for the society’s newsletter from 1967 to 1974.
Bob was influential in the fight to save the Little Desert and the purchase of a 400-hectare block of land adjacent to it. This land was established as the Urimbirra Co-operative Limited and now totals1,000 HA following further land purchases. The land has been well-managed and has reverted from cleared farmland back to the heathlands and allied indigenous plant communities typically found in the Little Desert National Park today. The land acts as an important natural buffer for the little Desert and is a beautiful patch of nature in its own right.
Bob then continued to serve Urimbirra as Director for 32 years
Bob was also instrumental in the society’s involvement with the Regional Employment Development (RED) Scheme during the Whitlam era in the 1970s. The RED scheme was designed to provide employment relief and the society, with Bob , Bill Craven and Ken Mylius initiated major native tree planting a revegetation projects on public land from Nunawading to Healesville and Warburton. They collectively putting in an enormous effort in organising and supervising the many planting activities involved with the program. By way of example from June to October 1975 more than 40,000 trees were planted on forty sites in the vicinity of recreational areas, schools, highways and railway lines.
Bob was born in Hillston in western NSW in 1936 and more recently lived in Castlemaine.
The Tree Society committee members send their heartfelt condolences to English family on this sad occasion.

Snippets

‘Shaping Whitehorse’ People’s Panel – The City of Whitehorse is currently seeking expressions of interest from people who wish to participate in the Shaping Whitehorse People’s Panel to help shape the future of Whitehorse.
Further project information and opportunities to get involved can be accessed at https://oursay.org/whitehorsecitycouncil/shapingwhitehorse What will this involve?
Participation in the following sessions and workshops:
• One x 1-hour online welcome session – On Tuesday, 25 May, 6:30-7:30 pm and
• Four workshops scheduled for Saturday 29 May, 10:30 am -12:30 pm, Saturday, 5 June, 9:30 am -12:30 pm, Saturday 19 June, 9:30 am -12:30 pm & Saturday 26 June, 9:30 am -12:30 pm There are preparatory materials that participants will review prior to the sessions.
A total of 50 participants will be selected to represent the Whitehorse community demographic. Expression of Interest applications close on 29 April 2021.
To express interest in joining the People’s Panel please complete the application form at https://oursay.org/survey/vOSKNu67

Invitation to ‘Shaping Whitehorse’ Focus Groups – Whitehorse Council is planning how it can work most effectively with the local community into the future to shape and deliver some of our key plans. To help achieve this objective Council will be facilitating focus group sessions with Whitehorse residents – refer details following:
Men’s Focus Group Saturday 1st May 10-11.30am Box Hill Town Hall
Women’s Focus Group Thursday 29th April 6 -7.30 pm Box Hill Town Hall
Parents/Carers’ Focus Group Thurs. 29th April 2 pm – 3.30 pm Box Hill Town Hall
The ideas and experiences gained from the workshops will help determine the priorities for Council to work on, when and how, over the next 4 years.
For more information about the Shaping Whitehorse project visit the Your Say Whitehorse portal.

Improving Biodiversity in our Cities and Towns – Notice of an upcoming webinar on how local government can address the challenge of identifying and establishing biodiversity corridors Biodiversity is both highly valued by communities in Australia and seriously under threat. This free webinar provides a practical blueprint to assist local government in protecting and enhancing local biodiversity.
Click on the following link to register – Register: Wednesday 21 April, 2021 – 1-2.30pm

Anger Grows as Thousands of Trees are Axed in Transport Building Blitz – The ‘Age’ article, authored by Clay Lucas, lists a number of major infrastructure projects initiated by the State Government that will lead to the destruction of tens of thousands of mature trees in Melbourne and country Victoria over the next decade.
The article can be sourced at: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/anger-as-thousands-of-trees-axed-in-transport-buildingblitz-20210101-p56r6j.html
Major projects targeted include the North East Link, the West Gate Tunnel, Mordialloc Freeway, Western Highway duplication, Metro rail tunnel and ongoing level crossing removals across the metro area including two locally at Surrey Hills and Mont Albert.

The article also highlights active community opposition to these projects.
The society supports all communities fighting to maximize tree and vegetation protection in the face of these massive, costly projects – many of which are unsustainable especially those that will result in more motor vehicles clogging our city’s roads, streets and open spaces.
We need to plan for a carbon-free future now and the state sanctioning more motor vehicle usage at the expense of a quality public transport system ignores of our catastrophic climate emergency status.

Anti-North East Link Campaign
Anti-NEL campaigner Ian Hundley has reported that the group attended the Kerrimuir shopping centre on Saturday morning, 27 March. Many of the local residents the protesters spoke to are fed up with the current traffic congestion on Middleborough Road and deeply concerned about the gridlock that will result from the widening of the Eastern Freeway as part of the NEL project. This will funnel even more traffic down Whitehorse roads including Middleborough, Elgar, Surrey/Blackburn and Springvale Roads.
Most local residents were sympathetic with the anti-NEL objectives and signed the petition opposing the construction of this outmoded infrastructure ‘solution’ to Melbourne’s traffic crisis.

Bungalook/WCIPP Nursery Newsletter for March and New Website – The March copy of the newsletter is available at the following link –
https://www.wcipp.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/76-Feb-March_2021.pdf

The indigenous plant nursery located in Fulton Road Blackburn South has a revamped website. Check it out at https://www.wcipp.org.au/ .

Preferred Tree Contractors – The tree society committee possesses a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees
Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Tree Society y is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times

Normally, the tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.
The meeting venue has been changed to the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Information Centre, Central Road Blackburn.
Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details
Website: http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.
Email: Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com
Postal address: PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

 COMMITTEE   

President
David Berry 0413 457 184
Secretary Anne Payne 9878 1152
Treasurer Brad Baker
Membership Secretary Dianne Tribe
Committee Members
Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch, Robyn Weir & Colin Gridley

BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.
Aims to: • Promote and improve the natural environment in the City of Whitehorse
• Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment
• Disseminate information to members
If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.
Inc. no. A15207B

December 2020 Newsletter

The Tree Society committee wishes all its Members a Friends and safe, relaxed and happy festive season and here’s looking to a better future in 2021.

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions curtailed the activities of the Tree Society somewhat during the year however the committee was still able to meet via Zoom (thanks to Anne Payne) and continued to advocate for the natural environment in Whitehorse.
Thankfully the restrictions are easing and hopefully normality will return during 2021.

The Tree Society committee, via the President (David Berry), has recently sent a letter to members requesting them to become more active in tree society affairs by joining the committee and taking on specific roles including newsletter editor, website manager, BADEP Fund manager etc. The Tree Society is currently at the crossroads and may not survive its seventh decade unless it attracts young, committed and active members to take over the mantle of caring for our natural environment in Whitehorse and beyond. The next 3-5 years will be crucial for the society, our membership now averages above 70 years of age, the activities of the Tree Society have increased markedly over the past decade and there are too few active Tree Society members currently doing the work of the society.

At the AGM in mid-December the existing committee was returned, and Life Member Robyn Weir was welcomed onto the committee.
David Berry announced that he will not be seeking a further term as President of the society beyond 2021.

The committee for 2020-2021 is:

President David Berry 0413 457 184
Secretary Anne Payne 9878 1152
Treasurer Brad Baker
Membership Secretary Dianne Tribe
Committee Members
Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch & Robyn Weir

The Tree Society distributes complementary newsletters to over one hundred individuals and groups that are deemed Friends of the society.
The Tree Society committee encourages our many Friends to become Financial Members of the society to support our important work advocating for the natural landscape. Membership forms are available on the website: http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com OR Via email: mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com

NB: Please make sure to include a full name when paying by direct bank transfer so that subscription payments can be confirmed (as well as sending completed membership renewal forms to the society via email or snail mail – refer details on the membership form available on the society’s website).

A Celebration Les Smith’s involvement in the Tree Society. The committee has been liaising with Council to establish a memorial to Les in the Blackburn Triangle (corner of Canterbury and Blackburn Roads, Blackburn). Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have slowed this project during 2020 however a low key planting/plaque dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2021 in the ‘Les Smith Groves’ within the Triangle. A date has yet to be fixed however appropriate dates would include Earth Day (Thursday 22 April) or World Environment Day (Friday 5 June)

Early in 2020, the Tree Society committee took over the management of the Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund from the existing Fund committee after the resignation of three Fund committee members – Louise Budd, Andrew Lockwood and David Morrison. The society is the sponsor of the Fund. The new committee’s objectives are to attract donations and provide grants for worthy community environmental projects in Whitehorse.
Actions during 2020 included:

  • The Fund received a generous donation of $7,000 from Greenlink Box Hill to be used to provide financial backing for worthy community environmental projects, primarily within Whitehorse. Many thanks to the committee, members and volunteers at
    Greenlink Box Hill for their generous support
  • The Fund has also recently received a donation from Mr. Ian Dixon for $2,000. No other details were made available for this generous donation to the Fund.
  • Transfer of the Dacy family funds of $5,000+ from the Fund into the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Advisory Committee account for environmental education projects at the lake including the management of the Margaret Dacy botanical collection
  • A $200 donation to the Friends of the Earth specifically targeted to the group’s antiNorth East Link campaign
  • A submission from the Whitehorse Active Transport Action Group (WATAG) requesting financial support for printing and distributing of councillor candidate information leaflets for the October 2020 Whitehorse council elections has been received by the Fund committee with a decision to grant $200 to help defray costs made at the December tree society meeting.

The Fund committee is actively pursuing other community-driven environmental projects worthy of financial support and will be announcing a new round of the fund’s Environmental Grants Program in early 2021 if all goes well re Covid-19.
• Donations can be made on-line via http://www.givenow.com.au/cause1518
• Or by completing and sending a cheque to the fund addressed to BDEPF, PO Box 210, Blackburn, VIC 3130
The fund’s web-site address is http://blackburnenviro.wordpress.com/

During 2020 Tree Society members Graeme Stone and Chris Trueman were busy liaising with Council and the Department of Transport regarding the route of the Box Hill to Ringwood Shared Use Path through Laburnum Station Gardens and along Main Street in Blackburn. The final negotiated route through the park limits any damage to existing trees. A viable alternative path route to the planned path along Main Street between Laburnum Street and South Parade was mooted by Chris and Graeme. The alternative route via Diggers Way would have allowed the retention of five street trees along Main Street. However, the trees have since been removed with the path works along Main Street – a disappointing result.

The Tree Society made a detailed submission to the Inquiry into Environmental
Infrastructure for a Growing Population in Victoria in late September. The Inquiry’s focus is to assess current and future arrangements to secure environmental infrastructure, particularly parks and open spaces, for a growing population in Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Tree Society’s submission concentrated on the need to identify currently underutilised open space within the Melbourne metropolitan area with the objective to open it up for public open space, parkland and biolinks. Obvious examples of ‘locked-up’ underutilised land include golf courses and land under Melbourne Water management, especially retarding basins and the linear land links associated with the city’s waterways network. The Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee is the responsible authority for the Inquiry and the closing date for submissions was 31 October 2020.

Current Planning Issues

A summary of current of planning issues requiring the Tree Society’s input follows:

  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – the developer amended the plans from four to three townhouses. A VCAT hearing was held in August 2020. No VCAT report as yet.
  • 9-13 Frankcom Street Blackburn – A compulsory conference was held in midSeptember and a 3-day VCAT hearing in November. The applicant sought to amend the plans (and thus vary the Permit conditions) for a multi-storey building with associated tree removal. The society made a presentation at the hearing opposing the augmented development proposal, advocating for further tree retention and calling for modifications to the landscape planting plan to include the planting of more indigenous plants (numbers and diversity). The society’s representative at VCAT had a major issue with the Member who, curiously, decided that one of the two best trees on the site (a Red Ironbark) could not be considered for retention because it wasn’t on the original Permit conditions to be retained!
  • 147 Woodhouse Grove Box Hill North – the Tree Society opposed an 8-unit residential development here and Whitehorse Council refused the Permit in November 2020. The society advocated that council purchase the land for a small park because the area is devoid of parkland and the site contains the heritage-listed Wesleyan Chapel (circa 1855) which is one of the oldest functioning churches in Australia. A truly magnificent Eucalyptus cephalocarpa that has been placed on the Whitehorse Significant Tree Register is also thriving on the land.
  • 23 Baldwin Road Blackburn – Sadly the magnificent Eucalypt that dominated the front garden of this site was chopped down in October much to the anger of the local community and Tree Society.
  • 1 Andrew Street Forest Hill – the loss of significant indigenous trees to make way for a new house resulted in a submission opposing the development by the Society. Also. the proposed landscape plan was deficient in canopy trees (15 metres+ in height) for the site and the nature strip contains important remnant vegetation that should be preserved. The permit application was allowed by council in late November but with strict conditions including the planting of canopy trees and the retention of a significant indigenous canopy tree previously marked for removal.
  • 18 Masons Road Blackburn – in June the society objected to a permit application for the demolition of the existing house, construction of a new house and loss of trees and vegetation. The landscape planting plan also contained major deficiencies. Council refused to grant a permit in July and the applicant has applied for a VCAT hearing, scheduled for mid-May 2021, to review council’s decision.
  • 1/101 Blackburn Road Blackburn – the society opposed an extension to one of the dwellings due to site overdevelopment leaving restricted open garden space for shrub and canopy tree plantings. Council has not made a decision on this planning application as of December 2020.
  • 1 Rosalind Crescent Blackburn – in November the society objected to a planning permit application for the demolition of an existing dwelling and construction of a doublestorey dwelling including tree and vegetation removal at this address. The application is still with the planners.
  • 11 Wellington Avenue Blackburn – a letter instead of a formal objection was sent to council in November for this application to remove twelve trees all of which were environmental weeds, mainly Pittosporum undulatum. A Permit was issued in November with a Condition that four replacement trees be planted. (Note: none of the species listed in the Conditions are true canopy tree species!)
  • 9 Jeffery Street Blackburn – the society initially objected the removal of up to eleven Pittosporum undulatum from this property in November however this objection was moderated by the fact that the trees were all environmental weeds. The owners were keen to plant suitable replacement species, sourced from WCIPP/Bungalook community indigenous plant nursery, after seeking advice from council’s Tree Education Officer. Tree Society committee member Dianne Tribe has been liaising with the property owners on bringing about a satisfactory resolution to this matter.
  • 74 Main Street Blackburn – in November a TS objection was lodged for this application for a planning permit to demolish an existing dwelling and construct a single-storey dwelling including tree and vegetation removal and works within 4 metres of protected trees. The site will be ‘moonscaped’ with many trees marked for removal being suitable for retention in the society’s view. No landscape planting plan was submitted and there will also be major encroachment of the Tree Protection Zone of a neighbouring tree.

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)1.

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com Web – http://www.crowag.com
CROWAG held its AGM and committee meeting on 18 November 2020 via Zoom.
CROWAG members Ross Gillespie, David Morrison and David Berry developed a Councillor
Candidate questionnaire that was sent to all candidates standing for election for Whitehorse Council in October. The objective was to seek and publish relevant information on planning and environmental issues of importance to CROWAG from each of the candidates.
There were a total of 43 candidates for the eleven single-councillor wards and questionnaire responses were received from 25 candidates (i.e., a 60% response which was a little disappointing).
However, of the candidates who were elected, nine of the eleven responded which, at 82%, is a much better response.
The questionnaire responses from the candidates can be sourced from the CROWAG website.
A list of the new councillors and their contact details is available on the Whitehorse City Council website.

  1. CROWAG is an amalgamation of several local community groups, including the Tree Society. The group advocates for appropriate and sustainable development concerning built-form, public amenity and the natural landscape within the municipality of Whitehorse to all tiers of government. CROWAG supports individuals and organisations advocating for appropriate and sustainable development and aims to develop and maintain open and mutually beneficial dialogue with
    Whitehorse City Council to balance all development within Whitehorse with the need to preserve and enhance the quality of life for residents and the natural landscape of Whitehorse.

Alan William Lodge 10.2.1935 – 17.11.2020
Members of The Tree Society will be saddened to hear of the death of local Blackburn resident, Alan Lodge. Alan has been a committed member of the Blackburn Creekland Advisory Committee for 28 years. The patch of land beside his home in Garie Street, and part of the Creekland, is testament to his conviction to remove every non-indigenous grass and transform it into a bushland sanctuary full of wonderful bird song.
Alan was ‘no shrinking violet, he loved meeting people and having a chat. He was interested in other’s views and was generous with his opinions’, as was quoted at his recent funeral. Whether it was weeding, bucketing water, propagating at Bungalook indigenous nursery, or planting, Alan enjoyed the bushland and was generous in sharing his knowledge. His efforts were recognized when he received the City of Whitehorse Achievement Award for his bushland work.
He had such deep concerns about the imminent effects of climate change on our environment and future generations, that he recently wrote to as many politicians as he could, on behalf of his newest great grandchild, urging them to take immediate action.
Alan will be sorely missed, but his legacy will stay with us.
Thank you, Alan. Our sincere sympathy to Dympna and his beloved family, as they come to terms with their loss.

Snippets

Congratulations to the eleven new Whitehorse Councillors (eight returning and three new) following the local government elections in October. They are Cr Andrew Munroe (the Mayor), Cr Blair Barker, Cr Raylene Carr, Cr Prue Cutts, Cr Andrew Davenport, Cr Mark
Lane, Cr Tina Liu, Cr Amanda McNeill, Cr Denise Massoud, Cr Trudy Skilbeck and Cr Ben Stennett. For further information on the councillors including contact details please refer to the council web page:
https://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/about-council/who-we-are/councillors

Banyule Environment Advisory Committee (BEAC)
It is notable that Banyule City Council has a community/council environmental advisory committee. What is astonishing is that BEAC has been in existence for twenty-five years (it started in 1995)!
BEAC’s role is to provide feedback and advice to Banyule Council to support its work in developing and implementing long term environmental policy, goals and strategies. BEAC members are representatives of the community and are appointed to work constructively with council to input into environmental strategy. What an excellent initiative!

However, it’s never too late!

Plaudits to Whitehorse Council for voting to establish a community-based Environment and Sustainability Reference Group at the recent Council Meeting on 30 November 2020.
The following Motion was passed unanimously and Crs Cutts and Liu have been nominated as the Councillor representatives on the reference group:– That Council:

  1. Supports the establishment of an Environment and Sustainability Reference Group, a community-based panel to provide advice on a wide range of sustainability and environmental matters for an initial two-year period until April 2023, at which time the arrangement will be reviewed,
  2. Develops a Terms of Reference (TOR) document outlining the role and responsibilities of the community panel consistent with the preliminary outline of TOR in Attachment 1,
  3. Reviews the Terms of Reference for the Environment and Sustainability Reference Group in response to the outcomes and themes of the Community Vision 2040.
  4. Notes that resourcing and funding requirements sufficient to establish and commence operating the community panel in 2020/21 will be reprioritised from other areas and further funding requirements will be considered as part of the 2021/22 budget.

Suitable Amenity Trees for Residential Gardens
Belinda Moody, Whitehorse Council’s Tree Education Officer, is currently finalising a document that provides useful information on tree species suitable for different-sized residential gardens. The tree species list includes a mix of indigenous, native and exotic trees that would be an attractive addition to gardens. The document lists tree species by height and other characteristics and should be made available to Whitehorse residents in 2021.

Eastsider News
A new community online newspaper, the ‘Eastsider News’ has been introduced to the residents of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The paper is packed with newsworthy items of community interest similar to local newspapers of twenty years ago and well worth a read. The Tree Society submitted an article and photograph to the paper that was published in the 2nd edition in October 2020. The society committee plans to submit another article on the Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund in early 2021.
Subscription to the paper is free. Subscribe on-line via the website: eastsidernews.org.au

A New Urban Forest Strategy for Whitehorse
A Zoom meeting on the revision of the Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy was held between council officers and representatives from the Tree Society, CROWAG and affiliated community groups on 10 December 2020. Organised by Millie Wells (Senior Environmental Advisor – ParksWide WCC), a background draft document was discussed that will be released to the public early next year once it is finalised. More information will be shared with members in due course.

Whitehorse Tree Assistance Fund
Council’s Tree Education Officer, Belinda Moody has requested a Tree Society representative to sit on the judging panel for the Whitehorse Tree Assistance Fund. Refer to the following link for details of the Fund – https://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/wasteenvironment/trees-and-gardens/trees/tree-assistance-fund . Tree Society Secretary Anne Payne OAM has volunteered for the role to represent the society on the panel and the first meeting is scheduled to be held this month.

An Ecological Connectivity Study for Whitehorse
Urban Ecologists Amy Hans and Luis Mata from Melbourne University are working with Whitehorse City Council to develop an Ecological Connectivity Map. The study will help to gain a better understanding of how different animals move around and beyond the municipality to access their needs to survive and thrive. In collaboration with community and Council, a selection of focal species that represent a range of habitat and dispersal requirements will be selected to guide the analysis of the study. The map will identify:

  1. species guilds, their movement requirements and barriers.
  2. the current limitations on connectivity based on the home range and dispersal capability of guilds.
  3. opportunities to improve ecological connectivity.
    The study will help to identify and prioritise actions to improve connectivity in Whitehorse. For further information, please contact Millie Wells at Whitehorse City Council on millie.wells@whitehorse.vic.gov.au.

Tree Census for Whitehorse
An article in ‘The Age’ newspaper (21/11/2020) reported that Whitehorse Council is seeking tenders to undertake a census of the city’s trees. The city has approximately 75,000 trees that council manages, and each tree will be identified, photographed, its arboricultural characteristics described and a $ value calculated by using a recognised tree valuation tool.
Also gaps and potential sites for future tree plantings will be identified.
The project will be used to manage tree assets and deliver efficiency in undertaking street tree management programs including maintenance, electric line clearing and planting. The many benefits of trees in the urban landscape are well known – improved amenity, shading and ambient temperature mitigation, source of habitat, promotion of psychological wellbeing, reduction of heating and cooling costs for homeowners, carbon sequestration, oxygen production, pollution mitigation and finally trees in the urban landscape boost the value of homes.

Launch of ‘Planning Wild Cities’ Book by RMIT’s Professor Wendy Steele What kind of urban futures are we planning?
From its earliest conception, planning has sought to correct harms arising from living in cities and to advance a better quality of life for urban residents. The purpose of urban and environmental planning was considered to be (at least in part) an instrument of social reform, closely associated with strong reformist ideals around improving human misery. This book offers a critical exploration of the challenges of planning cities within the contemporary urban age. In doing so it considers the nature, role and potential of planning in a climate of change; and whether or not wild cities can – or indeed should – be tamed.
Hosted by the RMIT Centre for Urban Research, a Zoom meeting was held in early December to launch the book and hold a panel discussion by academic experts in planning and associated disciplines. The book is highly recommended to people interested in planning urban environments for the 21st century.

North East Link (NEL) Planting Survey
The NEL need to plant tens of thousands of trees to replace the 30,000+ trees that the NEL authority will be removing to construct the North East Link. Please note that the NEL will include the massive widening of the Eastern Freeway on the northern border of Whitehorse. NEL is seeks feedback on where to plant from locals by completing an online survey on the Engage Victoria website by Thursday 31 December 2020.
NEL asserts that community survey results will help NEL prioritise where and how trees are planted as the North East Link is constructed over the next 5 to 7 years.

Preferred Tree Contractors The tree society committee possesses a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees
Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Tree Society y is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times

Normally, the tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.
The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.
Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details
Website: http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.
Email: Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com
Postal address: PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

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COMMITTEE

President David Berry 0413 457 184
Secretary Anne Payne 9878 1152
Treasurer Brad Baker
Membership Secretary Dianne Tribe
Committee Members
Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch & Robyn Weir

BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.
Aims to: • Promote and improve the natural environment in the City of Whitehorse
• Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment
• Disseminate information to members
If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.
Inc. no. A15207B

September 2020 Newsletter

Editorial

It’s been a long hard road through the Covid-19 lockdowns here in Melbourne and the Tree Society committee sends best wishes all its Members and Friends.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Use this time to reflect on life, grow some vegies (it’s nearly spring!), plant a few indigenous trees and shrubs, compile bird lists from sightings in your garden or local park, keep up the contact with your friends and relatives, speak with neighbours, smile, walk regularly in the local park and try new experiences.

For example, learn to play the ukulele or dust off those piano keys, create a playlist of uplifting music, join an on-line choir or start a photography course.

Please continue to comply with government and health directives to minimize the incidence and spread of Covid-19.

Until such a time that the committee is again able to meet face-to-face, it will endeavor to pursue the

Mission and Objectives of the Tree Society and strive to keep Members and Friends informed about the current, relevant environmental and planning matters in Whitehorse. 

The Tree Society distributes complementary newsletters to over one hundred individuals and groups that are deemed Friends of the society. 

The Tree Society committee encourages our many Friends to become Financial Members of the society to support our important work advocating for the natural landscape.

Membership forms are available on the website: http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com  OR Via email: mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com

The Objectives of the Tree Society are to:

o Promote and improve the natural  environment in the City of Whitehorse o Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment o Disseminate information to members

Congratulations to Anne Payne – OAM

Tree Society Secretary Anne Payne was recently honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the Blackburn community in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours List. Anne has been associated with Blackburn Lake Sanctuary (BLS) for over forty years and is currently the Chairperson of the Lake’s Advisory Committee. Anne is also actively involved in the Environmental Education Program for schoolchildren at the BLS Visitor Centre. She is a committee member of Blackburn Village Residents Group and has been a volunteer for the Red Cross in Blackburn for many years.

Anne regularly weeds or plants in one of the many parks and open spaces in Whitehorse including Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, McCubbin Park (Blackburn), the Healesville Freeway Reserve (Forest Hill), The Esplanade (Mitcham) and Jamieson Park (Blackburn). 

In her ‘spare time’ Anne can be found assessing residential gardens in Whitehorse as part of the Whitehorse Gardens for Wildlife program.

Well done Anne and congratulations from the committee, members and Friends of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society.

The ‘Les Smith Groves’ in the Blackburn Triangle

Plans for a commemorative planting and the unveiling of a plaque in the Blackburn Triangle to honour Les Smith are largely on hold given the current stage four restrictions in Melbourne.

A report on actions to date:

  • A planting bed in the Triangle (corner of Blackburn and Canterbury Roads Blackburn) has been chosen and Council ParksWide officers are preparing the bed for the commemorative planting to be held hopefully later this year or early in 2021
  • Tree Society secretary, Anne Payne is liaising with Council and the Smith family regarding the proposed activity and is organizing the commemorative plaque.  

Interim State Government Approval for Amendment C219 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme

The Minister for Planning approved Amendment C219 on 16 July 2020 and it came into effect on 30 July 2020. 

It is important to note however that the approval is on an interim basis until 30 June 2021.

In the meantime the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will complete a review of the Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO) in the Victoria Planning Provisions. 

It is projected that the DELWP review will establish a state-wide approach in the application of planning tools for tree protection (i.e. SLOs).

Amendment C219 mandates Whitehorse-wide tree controls (via significant Landscape Overlay No.

9 or SLO-9) in residential areas not yet covered by a Significant Landscape Overlay. 

Amendment C219 replaces the SLO that has been in place since February 2018.  Refer to Council or DELWP  websites for further details.

2020-21 Whitehorse City Council (WCC) Budget 

Tree Society president David Berry made a presentation to Whitehorse Council’s Special

Committee meeting on 9 June 2020. The meeting was held to hear community submissions on the draft 2020-21 Budget.  The society advocated that more funding is needed for:

  1. The Whitehorse Street Tree Program
  2. The Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy 
  3. Whitehorse Planning Scheme Amendment C219 (SLO-9) 
  4. ‘ParksWide’ Department Funding

In addition the Tree Society contends that Whitehorse Council’s Public Open Space Reserve Fund needs to be managed more vigorously and effectively. There is around $45 million in the Fund, it increases by some $5-7M annually and council allocates only ~ $1.5M each year for strategic land acquisition. Box Hill is the most neglected area for open space and the society has urged Council to negotiate with the owners to purchase the historic Box Hill Brickworks site via the Fund, clean it up and develop the land as a major regional park.

Community Issues with Whitehorse Council Regarding Planning and Management of Trees and Vegetation in Whitehorse

The Tree Society has developed a 4-page list of issues about the planning and management of trees and vegetation within Whitehorse.

This document will form the basis for discussions with Council in the near future on mechanisms to address these recurring issues. 

The document is too large to reproduce in this newsletter however copies will be made available to interested groups and individuals by emailing David Berry on bdtpsociety@gmail.com

Is the Existence of Bracket Fungus a Death Sentence for Trees?

The short answer is – no it’s not!

This article has been written with particular reference to the recent decision by Council to allow the removal of a significant Eucalypt at 23 Baldwin Road because it has Bracket Fungus. 

The tree is conservatively valued at $40,000 to $50,000 using council’s Amenity Tree Valuation Tool and the Tree Society maintains that council must not rely solely on a visual inspection to determine the fate of magnificent trees such as this specimen in the future.

In addition to a visual inspection Council needs to start commissioning non-invasive diagnostic testing to objectively determine the extent of fungal spread within the trunk of trees with Bracket Fungus. This testing would be a minimal financial impost compared with the amenity value of the tree and therefore is completely justified.

The owner of 23 Baldwin Road, to his credit, commissioned an Arborist to undertake a tomographic ultrasound test on the trunk of the tree in March 2019 (i.e. a non-invasive diagnostic assessment of the tree trunk’s integrity).

Testing revealed a loss of 13% to 17% of the maximum wood strength contained within a central area behind the surface wound and the arborist concluded that :

‘… there appears to be sufficient sound wood to support the tree’s canopy …’

The arborist determined that the trunk was unlikely to fail however it was recommended that the tree undergo remedial pruning to minimize the risk of limb failure. 

Reference: Arboricultural Report, 23 Baldwin Road Blackburn, Michael Rogers, Consulting Arborist, April 2019

What is Bracket Fungus?

A bracket fungus is a fruiting body that sticks out from the trunk of a tree like a shelf. The fungal mycelia (the main fungal structures) feed on the dead heartwood of the trunk and limbs leading to cavities forming within the trunk and branches over time. The living sections of tree trunks and branches are thin areas immediately under the bark. As long as the fungus is not harming these living parts then the tree can live on quite happily with little danger of failure due to the fungus itself.

On this issue an Australian National Botanic Gardens publication, What is a Fungus? states:            “In fact, there are numerous old, healthy, hollowed-out trees in existence. Moreover, an empty cylinder (such as a hollowed trunk) can resist some stresses better than a solid cylinder (such as a solid trunk). If you’re a possum or a parrot, then you’d probably look very favourably on that fungus because it is helping to create potential  nesting hollows.” 

Refer: http://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/what-is-fungus.html

An extract from a research paper – A non-invasive method for evaluating trees (2000), authored by Lawday, G., and Clover, R., Institute of Engineering and Technology, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University Collegestates:

‘… Typically an arboricultural consultant is called upon to assess the health of a tree, as an expert visual appraisal is critical in any tree inspection. Although the extent of a defect within a tree cannot normally be assessed by a visual assessment alone and various proprietary mechanical and sound wave instruments may be used to gauge the risk presented by the tree. Decay in mature trees generally manifests itself as a central column of rot that tapers from the roots within the trunk of the tree. The aim of an internal inspection is to ensure that the trunk has a minimum of 30% of sound wood surrounding the rot. Whereby a tree can heal itself by surrounding the rot with a defensive layer that isolates the decay and allows the tree to regenerate. Moreover, a hollow tree that had decay may present little risk and withstand greater wind force than a solid tree of similar size …’  

Sean Freeman, a Consulting Arborist and major contributor to the Veteran Tree Group Australia makes an important observation on Bracket Fungus and trees:

‘… It is a real shame that the complex and subtle relationships that exist between trees and fungi are not better appreciated by more people, including a great many Arborists.  It is a gross oversimplification to suggest that because a bracket is present on a tree that the tree is doomed to fail, or that the only management technique available (or appropriate) is the complete removal of the tree.  As trees age they contain ever increasing volumes of dysfunction tissues, they get damaged by us or by nature …. and it is almost inevitable that decay fungi will colonise and degrade those tissues. As previously stated the presence of decay and decay fungi is not unusual nor unexpected. When fruiting bodies appear on trees then a closer more detailed assessment is warranted. There is always decaying wood in trees and it’s a good thing since it represents the major source of carbon fuel that drives the soil food web on which almost all plants and animals depend – including us …’

Conclusion: Whitehorse council must commission non-invasive diagnosticassessment methodologies in addition to visual inspections by arboristswhen assessing the integrity of significant and valuable canopy trees.

The North East Link (NEL) Project – Whitehorse Residents to Suffer

The Tree Society committee was very supportive of Whitehorse Council’s legal challenge to the North East Link (NEL) in opposing NEL’s inadequate Environmental Effects Statement (EES) that included plans to massively widen the Eastern Freeway. The Supreme Court challenge was mounted jointly by Banyule, Boroondara, Manningham and Whitehorse Councils in February this year.

However, earlier in August, Whitehorse Council, along with Boroondara and Manningham councils, withdrew from the legal challenge after settling for what appear to be very modest taxpayer-funded inducements from the state government . These include, for Whitehorse, a new sports field and car parking at Elgar Park, Box Hill North, playground upgrades near the Eastern Freeway and a new cycling route connecting the Koonung Creek Trail to Box Hill Central.

It appears that Whitehorse Council has surrendered to the State Government without gaining offset open space, vegetation replacement or traffic volume mitigation through Whitehorse, each of which will impinge on the amenity of the Whitehorse community beyond the completion of the project.

In addition, the massive widening of the Eastern Freeway will now be free to proceed leading to serious disruption for the City of Whitehorse during the 5-7-year construction period and when the 18-22 lane freeway eventually becomes operational. 

The North east Link will funnel excessive traffic including large trucks into and through Whitehorse, remove over 7,000 trees along the Whitehorse section of the freeway corridor, negatively impact a further 7,000 trees, destroy remnant bushland, alter the ecology of the Yarra River, obliterate what remains of the Koonung Valley, compulsorily acquire parkland and land that supports over 100 businesses and 40 homes and create serious noise, dust, vibration and light pollution along the course of the freeway from Greensborough to Ringwood. All this without serious consideration for public amenity, the environment and the provision of suitable public transport alternatives for our burgeoning population in metro Melbourne. 

This sounds like a very bad deal for Whitehorse.

Healesville Freeway Reserve Report – Victorian State Government Department destroys important remnant vegetation

Under the leadership of Anne Makhijani, one working bee, by a small number of community members, was held to weed before the new shutdown restrictions began in July.

Currently the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are the interim managers of the 35-hectare reserve in Forest Hill/Vermont South.

The long-awaited naming the reserve is awaiting approval from the Parks Victoria Board before it goes to the Minister for sign off and official approval. It was hoped this would be completed by the end of June.

In early winter DELWP directed a fire management crew into the reserve to remove woody weeds.

This has sadly caused a great deal of damage in a particularly sensitive remnant area between Davy Reserve and Terrara Road. Of particular concern is the destruction of important ground-storey flora including indigenous shrubs, orchids, tufties and grasses.

Four separate flora and fauna studies have been completed for the Healesville Freeway Reserve by Whitehorse Council, Vic Roads and BIOSIS for Council and the HFR Friends group. This included identifying remnant canopy trees and vegetation and habitat zones. 

One more report on the ground level flora will be produced by BIOSIS. Once this is completed the reports will be consolidated and formalised enabling work on the design process to ensure sensitive areas are protected and minimise any further damage. 

Currently work is being done by Whitehorse Council on drainage at both the nursery and community gardens to investigate infrastructure and the management of water on site. High nutrient water will be collected and reused on site instead of running off into the HFR and thus hopefully reducing the weed problem.

At the moment the recently planted areas surrounding Davy Reserve and eastwards to the community gardens and council’s horticultural centre require active weed management There may be money available to employ young trainees as part of the management program.   

Current Planning Issues

A summary of current of planning issues requiring the Tree Society’s input follows:

  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – revised plans for a 3-, rather than 4-unit development were received in March from the applicant’s representative. No amended landscape planting plan was produced; therefore the society remained opposed to the development and became a respondent to the VCAT Hearing which was held via Zoom in late August. Council was supported in its opposition to the development by a large number of local residents as well as the BVRG and the tree society.

            The Member, Mr. Potts, has reserved his decision.

  • 9-13 Frankcom Street Blackburn – A practice day hearing on revised plans for this highdensity residential development was held on 14 August and a VCAT hearing has been scheduled for mid-November.

In 2017 the Tree Society was involved in discussions with the developer/applicant, local community groups and residents regarding the impacts of the proposed high density multistorey residential development here with particular reference to the fate of the existing vegetation including the many trees on site.  

We also assessed the developer’s amended landscape planting plan and made a number of suggestions for its improvement in line with the value of the land as a habitat link between Elmhurst Basin (north of Whitehorse Road) and the Blackburn Creeklands to the south. This site has high natural landscape and biolink values because a section of Blackburn Creek coursed through the south-east section of the land.  

The development subsequently went to VCAT and was knocked back. 

However the applicant recently produced revised development plans and referred them to VCAT for review. These plans have been substantially altered from the original plans with the addition of another storey above ground level, an increase in the number of apartments from 35 to 50 and an increased allowance for on-site car parking from 38 to 56 vehicles.  The Tree Society has become a respondent because updated information on existing tree fates and the landscape plan/plant species schedule was not available when Statements of Grounds were due. A VCAT Compulsory Conference is scheduled for 15 September.

o 147 Woodhouse Grove Box Hill North – The society has opposed the eight-unit residential development proposal for this iconic site which is covered by a Heritage Overlay (HO-99), a  Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO-5) and a Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO9).

The site is iconic: 

  • The land contains the heritage-listed Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1855-56 and the first church to be built in the region. The church has continued to function since it was built and is one of the oldest churches still being used as such, in Australia. The Heritage Overlay applies to the chapel and adjacent memorial gardens.
  • There are at least three substantial native canopy trees on the site. The most important of these trees, a magnificent Silver-leaved Stringybark (Eucalyptus cephalocarpa), at over 100 years old, is on the Whitehorse Significant Tree Register (refer Record #77, City of

Whitehorse Significant Tree Register, 2016). The Vegetation Protection Overlay emphasizes the significance of this tree.

The tree society committee argues that this site is of such significance that Council should seriously consider negotiating with the landowner to purchase the land as a community asset. The land can easily be converted into a small park incorporating the chapel, memorial gardens, existing vegetation, open space and possibly the existing hall, kitchen and toilets. Extraneous hard surfaces would be removed and car access and parking on site minimised.

  • Taralye (137 Blackburn Road, Blackburn)  – A number of healthy trees were cut down at the oral language centre in late February. The society has written to Council to protest their loss and seek information on the reasons for them being cut down. Council has subsequently responded unsatisfactorily to questions posed in the society’s letter. Thus little light has been shed on what, if any, planning permit process was followed for the trees’ removal.
  • 201 Canterbury Road Blackburn – The planning application for a medical centre with associated tree losses was passed at Council in July with conditions that favoured more vegetation however the significant Corymbia citriodora will be removed and the site will have a deficit of trees capable of reaching the recommended 15 metres in height for SLO-2 areas.
  • 10 Halley Street Blackburn – the society opposed the construction of double-storey house in front of an existing house on this site that required the removal of protected trees. A consultation forum was held on 4 August and Council has subsequently granted a permit with conditions including the planting of five larger indigenous canopy trees.  
  • 23 Baldwin Road Blackburn – this is a 3-unit development proposal with associated vegetation removal. The tree society opposed this development and the removal of a significant tree. The development proposal led to community outrage because of site overdevelopment, the moonscaping of the site and the separate VicSmart application for removal of the significant Eucalypt at the front of the property. The tree was doomed because it has Bracket Fungus, a condition that most arborists deem to be fatal for trees. But several research papers demonstrate that Bracket Fungus is a common occurrence in older, habitat trees which means that we are losing our older, established trees unnecessarily because of the knee-jerk reaction from arborists and planners based only on the visual assessment of a fungal fruiting body. This fungus derives its nutrition from the dead centre wood and non-invasive assessment techniques are required to determine the extent of the fungus and its impact on the tree’s health and useful life expectancy. Refer to the separate article on Bracket Fungus in this newsletter.

This case study highlights some of the worst aspects of the fast-tracked VicSmart system for single tree removals. Despite community protestation, Council asserts that it is required to assess the two planning applications as separate entities. This defies logic and fails the community ‘pub test’ for reasonable residential development that is sympathetic to the local neighbourhood character described for Neighborhood Residential Zone 3 and Significant Landscape Overlay 9 localities. 

A consultation forum was held via Zoom on 12 August.

  • 1 Andrew Street Forest Hill – in June 2020, the society formally objected to the construction of a house and removal of vegetation (including indigenous canopy trees) within an SLO-6 area on this site. A consultation forum was held on 30 July. The neighbourhood contains important remnant trees. The applicant’s landscape plan doesn’t allow for the desired number of canopy trees to be planted on the site capable of reaching 15 metres or more in height. In addition, the nature-strip contains valuable remnant trees, shrubs and grasses that must be preserved with any construction works on the site.
  • 27-29 The Avenue Blackburn – Council granted a permit for this development for the partial demolition and relocation of a heritage dwelling, buildings and works for alterations and additions to a heritage dwelling, front fence and tree removal at the June 22 council meeting. The Conditions associated with the granting of the planning permit were tightened up to conform more closely to the landscape character guidelines for NRZ-1/SLO-2.
  • 18 Masons Road Blackburn – In early June the society objected to a planning permit application at this address to demolish an existing dwelling and construction of a double-story dwelling including tree and vegetation removal and works within 4 metres of a significant tree.    Major concerns included the number of trees to be removed (some of which are indigenous), the encroachment of buildings within the tree protection zones of established trees, two of which are significant Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora), the incomplete landscape planting plan, the provision for planting canopy trees in garden area too small for the trees to thrive and a general overdevelopment of the site. The Tree Society contends that this development would be much improved if more trees are retained, greater protection is provided for the trees to be retained and more middle-story plant species, preferably indigenous or native are planted in the front and rear gardens. In July Council issued a notice to refuse to grant a permit.
  • 1/101 Blackburn Road Blackburn – The site has already been subdivided into 2 dwellings with a common party wall between them on the eastern boundary. The society opposed an application for extension of the dwelling in late June because of overdevelopment of the site that will leave little garden space. A landscape planting plan was not included, and, ideally one more canopy tree should be planted on site. Council has not made a decision as yet.

Laburnum to Blackburn ‘Shared Use Path’

A compromise has been reached with Whitehorse Council and the Department of Transport on the final route of the path through Laburnum Station Gardens. The route, brokered by Graeme Stone, local resident and tree society member, will result in minimal incursion into the park which will maximize passive recreational opportunities tin this important local open space. 

The existing playground will be replaced by a modern play-space at a more central location in the park.

Laburnum Station Gardens is a crucial area of open space with the increasing number of residents occupying the medium-density unit developments in the Residential Growth Zone between the railway line and Whitehorse Road. 

At the Whitehorse Council meeting on 24 August the vote was split on the letting of a tender for the construction of a multi-deck car park at the Whitehorse Civic Centre in Nunawading. However the Mayor’s casting vote in favour of the expenditure of upwards of $4M on this ‘asset’ unfortunately carried the day. The car park will be built before the completion of the new Whitehorse Centre and will therefore remain under-utilised for a number of years. 

Councillors voting for the letting of the tender included the Mayor, Cr Ellis, and Crs Massoud,

Munroe, Stennett and Carr. Councillors opposed included Crs Davenport, Barker, Liu, Cutts and Bennett. The society endorses the latter group of councillors in calling for deferral of the project until such time as the current uncertainty re the Covid-19 pandemic is clarified. 

The society advocates that a rational decision on the need for more car parking at the Whitehorse Centre can be made only after we know more about life in a post-Covid 19 world and subject to the exploration of other transport and parking options.

The car park will replace valuable parkland at the Civic Centre and attract more cars to a site now dominated by car parking spaces without seriously exploring alternatives e.g. reconfiguration of existing car parking, improving public transport access and providing incentives for council staff and Whitehorse Centre patrons to use alternative modes of transport including public transport, walking and cycling.

The money saved would be better spent on one or more of the following – enhancing our existing parks, accelerating the street tree planting program, purchasing strategic parcels of land to create more parkland for residents, employing more local laws and tree education officers to administer the tree protection controls across the city and funding the installation of active transport (walking and cycling) links throughout the city.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund (the ‘Fund’)

The Fund is now managed by the current tree society committee consisting of David Berry, Anne Payne OAM, Dianne Tribe, Brad Baker, Mary Crouch and Ann Clayton. 

Fund matters are discussed and decisions made at regular tree society committee meetings.

The Fund supports conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse. 

Earlier in 2020, the Fund received a generous donation of $7,000 from Greenlink Box Hill to provide financial support for worthy community environmental projects within Whitehorse. The society committee has formally thanked the Greenlink Box Hill committee for their substantial donation and acknowledges their generosity to all tree society Members and Friends.

A recent action of the tree society/Fund committee was to transfer the Dacy family funds, amounting to over $5,000, into the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary Advisory Committee’s (BLSAC) account. These funds were specifically targeted for expenditure by the BLSAC on environmental education projects including the management of the Margaret Dacy botanical collection.

Special thanks to Tree Society members Tristan Davidson, David Morrison and Andrew Lockwood for their recent, generous donations to the Fund. 

The Fund committee is actively pursuing other potential candidates worthy of financial support for their environmental programs and will be announcing a new round of the fund’s Environmental Grants Program once the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased and normality returns. 

The fund’s web-site address is http://blackburnenviro.wordpress.com/

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)1.

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com         Webhttp://www.crowag.com

CROWAG held its most recent meeting on 15 July 2020 via Zoom.

Actions since July have included the following CROWAG correspondence items:

  • Call for the postponement of Local Government Elections in 2020 (to the state Minister for

Local Government, The Hon. Shaun Leane) o Letter to the state Minister for Local Government, The Hon. Shaun Leane, seeking a review of the newly sanctioned single-member ward system for Whitehorse City Council

  • Letter critical of Whitehorse Council for abandoning its legal challenge to the State

Government’s dismissal of the IAC recommendations regarding the North East Link

Environmental Effects Statement o CROWAG letter to Whitehorse Council critical of council’s inadequate response to the current climate emergency and

  • CROWAG advocacy for a better publicized, more transparent and more vigorous application of council’s Community Engagement Framework (to Mr. Simon McMillan, CEO Whitehorse City Council)

1. CROWAG is an amalgamation of several local community groups, including the Tree Society. The group advocates for appropriate and sustainable development concerning built-form, public amenity and the natural landscape within the municipality of Whitehorse to all tiers of government.

CROWAG supports individuals and organisations advocating for appropriate and sustainable development and aims to develop and maintain open and mutually beneficial dialogue with Whitehorse City Council to balance all development within Whitehorse with the need to preserve and enhance the quality of life for residents and the natural landscape of Whitehorse.

Snippets

Call for Submissions to the Inquiry into Environmental Infrastructure for Growing

The Tree Society committee requests that interested groups and individuals consider making a submission to this important Inquiry into the current and future arrangements to secure environmental infrastructure, particularly parks and open space, for a growing population in Melbourne and across regional centres. 

Submissions are to be sent to the Environment and Planning Committee.

Examples of environmental infrastructure of particular interest to the Committee include parks and open space, sporting fields, forest and bushland, wildlife corridors and waterways. The Committee is primarily interested in environmental infrastructure that is within or close to urbanised areas.

The closing date for submissions is 28 September 2020.

Submissions can be lodged by:

  1. Email to eii@parliament.vic.gov.au; or
  2. eSubmission at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eii; or
  3. Hard copy to:           The Committee Manager

Legislative Assembly Environment and Planning Committee

Parliament House

Spring Street

EAST MELBOURNE  VIC  3002

For further assistance on making a submission, please see Guidelines for Making a Written Submission at: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/committees/making-a-submission.

After receiving submissions, the Committee will hold public hearings before tabling a report in the Victorian Parliament. For further information about the Committee or the inquiry process, please contact the Committee’s Secretariat on (03) 8682 2803. The progress of the Inquiry can be followed on the Committee’s website at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eii.   

Whitehorse 2040 Community Vision

Whitehorse Council is requesting participation by members of the Whitehorse community into the Whitehorse 2040 Community Vision. Council is asking residents, business owners, workers and students to imagine what Whitehorse and its community will be like in 20 years’ time and to determine what needs to be prioritised to get there. More information can be found at: https://oursay.org/whitehorsecitycouncil/communityvision There are a number of ways to participate:

  • A series of electronic workshops are currently being held o Interested parties are asked to complete an on-line survey and
  • Council is calling for expressions of interest for membership of the Whitehorse Vision 2040

Community Panel. Members will be of different ages, backgrounds, skills and experiences. 

More information about the panel and expressions of interest details can be found at: https://www.chatterboxprojects.com.au/whitehorse-2040

Vale Nina Scott – Local Environmental Crusader

The Tree Society committee was saddened to hear of the death of environmental activist Nina Scott on 18 July 2020.

The Tree Society, represented by Les Smith, was involved with many community groups and individuals in the fight against the extension of the Eastern Freeway from Doncaster Road through the Koonung and Mullum Valleys in the 1980s and 1990s. 

Nina Scott was at the forefront of this battle to create a linear wildlife corridor and parkland from Bulleen through to Ringwood that would be known as the Koonung-Mullum Forest Way. 

Unfortunately the battle was lost and the eastern Freeway extension built.

Now we have the terrible likelihood of a doubling in width of the Eastern Freeway along the Koonung Valley that will all but decimate any remaining parkland and open space, all to feed the gas-guzzling motor vehicle.

To quote John Young, tree society Life Member:      … Nina was a shining example of an ethical, moral person who clearly understood the difference between right and wrong and most importantly was prepared to stand up and say what she believed in …. 

Preferred Tree Contractors  The tree society committee possesses a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times 

(Please note that normal Tree Society meetings are being conducted via ‘Zoom’ until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Normally, the tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.

Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details

Website:         http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.

Email:             Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com 

Postal address:         PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

  COMMITTEE
President                  David Berry.              9890 7915 or 0413 457 184
Secretary                Anne Payne9878 1152
Treasurer               Brad Baker 
Membership SecretaryDianne Tribe 
Committee MemberAnn Clayton 
Committee Member  Mary Crouch
BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.  Aims to: •  Promote and improve the natural  environment      in the City of Whitehorse Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment Disseminate information to members

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.

Inc. no. A15207B

April 2020 Newsletter

Editorial

In these strange and uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tree Society committee sends best wishes to all Members and Friends. 

Please stay safe and healthy and comply with government and health directives to minimize the incidence and spread of this nasty, highly contagious disease.

The publication of this, the first newsletter for 2020, has been a little late due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences however the committee believes that, even in these stressful times, a semblance of normality is desirable, and the following articles will provide Members with a snapshot of current issues of interest. 

Until such a time that the committee is again able to meet face-to-face, it will endeavor to pursue the

Mission and Objectives of the Tree Society and strive to keep Members and Friends informed about the current, relevant environmental and planning matters in Whitehorse. Thank you. David Berry.

The Positive Aspects of the COVID-19 Pandemic (or ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’)

This sounds decidedly ‘Pollyanna-ish’ but whilst we all suffer through this COVID-19 contagion there is a silver-lining. Yes, the pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world and causing massive disruption to our normal lives with concerns that family and friends will get sick, social distancing, limits on catching up with loved ones, public event cancellations (concerts, sporting activities, plays etc.) and temporary bans on community meetings. 

But how many positive effects can you think of arising from these strange times?

Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Our local parks, gardens and streets are filled with people walking, playing, cycling, exercising, interacting with their dogs, bird-watching, gazing at the sky, meditating etc.
  2. There’s hardly any traffic on the roads and no traffic noise 
  3. It’s safer for pedestrians and cyclists to walk and ride on local streets and major roads
  4. The air ‘feels’ cleaner and the days brighter
  5. People are becoming more ‘connected’ with their local community
  6. Gardening is more popular than ever
  7. Teddy bears and rainbows are appearing in front windows bringing smiles to passersby of all ages
  • Footpath chalk art is booming
  • People are communicating more via social media, telephone and even by mail!
  • The birds still sing, the rain falls, everything is green and lush, and the sun appears each day without fail
  • Homes and gardens are being tidied up 
  • Jobs that were put off for years are finally being started (if not yet completed)
  • There’s more time for reading, listening to the radio, playing music and binge-watching films and TV series.

So it’s not all bad news!

How many positives can you list?

In years to come we may well look back on this time with sadness tinged with a slight yearning for the positive aspects of living through this awful pandemic.

The ‘Les Smith Groves’ in the Blackburn Triangle

The committee is currently working with Whitehorse Council on plans for a commemorative planting and the unveiling of a plaque in the Triangle (corner of Blackburn and Canterbury Roads Blackburn) to honour Les.

The tentative date is World Environment Day, Friday 5 June 2020 depending on the status of the COVID-19 crisis. Members of Les Smith’s family, the Tree Society committee and Whitehorse Council will attend the celebration. 

Committee member Anne Payne is organizing the activity and will liaise with the Smith family when full details of the activity are confirmed.

Excellent News on Amendment C219 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme

In February 2020, Planning Panels Victoria recommended that Amendment C219 become incorporated into the Whitehorse Planning Scheme subject to approval by council and the state Planning Minister.

Council subsequently ratified Amendment C219 at the Ordinary Council meeting on 16 March 2020.

The amendment will establish Whitehorse-wide tree controls (via significant Landscape Overlay No. 9 or SLO-9) in residential areas not yet covered by a Significant Landscape Overlay. 

Whilst the Tree Society had a number of concerns with the amendment (see November 2019 newsletter for details), overall, the society endorses Amendment C219 and views the Amendment as the culmination of almost sixty years of community advocacy for the protection and enhancement of our city’s natural landscape – in this instance within private ownership. This Amendment will help our city regain the status of being a Green and Leafy city and hopefully reverse the alarming tree canopy loss of the past decade.

Eight Trees Get the Chop at ‘Taralye’ – 137 Blackburn Road Blackburn

On February 26th, eight trees were removed from ‘Taralye’ oral language centre (‘Taralye’ is an indigenous word meaning ‘a place of trees’).  

It was the dream of Janet Calvert Jones, the daughter of Dame Elizabeth Murdoch for a purposebuilt oral language centre for pre-school deaf children where they would have their early intervention alongside local children with normal hearing, in a wonderful treed environment where children could flourish and play.  Many of us sent our children there and my grandchildren currently attend and enjoy the excellent programs.

In 2018, ‘Taralye’ was taken over by a Sydney based charity called the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children and, sadly, soon the name ‘Taralye’ will be no more, the irony being that ‘a place of trees’ may also be lost.  

The trees, which were nowhere near play spaces, were removed after a tree branch damaged the front fence.  

The tree loppers stated that the trees were overhanging the footpath and, apparently, Council had approved their removal without a permit, appropriate site signage or notification on Council’s website. Many of the trees appeared healthy and it is perplexing that Council permission was granted so easily with little transparency or community notification. 

The Tree Society has requested that a Central Ward councillor determine the reasons for the tree removals without following due process.  This is not a one-off case – it has occurred before, most recently at 10 Eustace Street, this year and also at 21 Laurel Grove North in 2018. 

The Tree Society committee will keep you informed subsequent to receiving an explanation from Council.  

What can Tree Society members do in the interim?

Council cannot be everywhere to enforce the Whitehorse Planning Scheme.  If you see or hear chainsaws in operation, please phone Council on 9262 6333.  

Do not turn a blind eye.  

They will tell you if a permit has been issued or not.  

Dianne Tribe – Tree Society Committee member     

2020-21 WCC Community Budget Briefing Session – 25 February 2020

David Berry represented the Tree Society at a Whitehorse Council Budget (2020-21) Briefing session in February.

The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed itself on the community in the interim and priorities may change, however, during the session, Council emphasised that recycling, energy and the environment would be emphasised in the upcoming budget.

In addition, a new Local Government Act will come into force this year aimed at improving governance, accountability and transparency in councils and encouraging community consultation and involvement. 

It will also mean the scrapping of dual councillor wards in favour of single councillor wards. Approved and funded major projects for 2020-21 include the completion of the Nunawading Hub, demolition of the Whitehorse Centre, major refurbishment of Walker and Morton Park pavilions and redevelopment planning for the Morack Golf Course.

The Municipal-wide Tree Strategy got a number of mentions but overall the society is concerned that, as argued with last year’s budget, not enough funds will be allocated for the Whitehorse Street Tree Program, the Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy and ParksWide Department funding.  Also, we advocate that Council prosecute its Open Space Reserve Fund more vigorously to  purchase strategic parcels of land thereby creating more open space and parkland in the city, with particular reference to Box Hill.

Important Dates Re the 2020-21 Budget: 

  • 20 April – Council to consider the draft 2010-21 Budget for decision
  • 21 April-20 May – Draft Budget available for public viewing (refer council website)
  • 9 June – Council Special Committee meeting to hear community submissions re the Budget  •          22 June – Council Special Committee meeting for decision on the Budget
  • July – council provides written responses to submitters.

North East Link Project Environmental Effects Statement – Submission and Presentation by the Tree Society 

The Tree Society fully endorses Whitehorse Council’s initiative, along with Banyule, Boroondara and Manningham, to mount a legal challenge to the North East Link (NEL). In particular, the councils are opposed to the ‘dodgy’ Environmental Effects Statement (EES) and the sketchy plans provided by NEL. A contentious issue for councils and residents is the refusal of the Planning Minister to accept the most crucial of the recommendations in the IAC report on the EES including a rational alternative to avoid the massive expansion of the traffic capacity and width planned for the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen to Nunawading.

We support council’s stance particularly in light of the cavalier action of the State Planning Minister to summarily dismiss the serious concerns raised by the IAC panel in their report following the 10week public submissions hearing on the NEL EES late last year. 

The minister subsequently gave the green light to this massive infrastructure project that will cause chaos in the eastern suburbs during the project’s construction and operational stages.

The Tree Society has argued strongly that the NEL Project poses serious disruption for the City of Whitehorse during the construction (for upwards of 5-7 years) and operational phases.

The benefits of NEL for Whitehorse are difficult to find!

The link, once completed, will funnel far more traffic including large trucks into and through

Whitehorse, remove over 7,000 trees in Whitehorse, negatively impact a further 7,000 trees, destroy remnant bushland, alter the ecology of the Yarra River, obliterate what remains of the Koonung Valley, compulsorily acquire parkland and land that supports over 100 businesses and 40 homes and create serious noise, dust, vibration and light pollution along the course of the freeway from Greensborough to Ringwood.

All this without serious consideration for public amenity, the environment and the provision of suitable public transport alternatives for our burgeoning population in metro Melbourne (for example the NEL works will kill any possibility of a light rail service to Doncaster and beyond via the median strip of the Eastern Freeway).

An interesting article on the issue of major roads projects appeared in The Conversation late last year, titled We’re still fighting city freeways after half a century. It is co-authored by Associate Professor Andrew Butt, RMIT University; Dr Crystal Legacy, RMIT University; Gerry McLoughlin, Swinburne University of Technology and Dr Ian Woodcock, Swinburne University of Technology.

The full article can be viewed at http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2019/12/were-stillfighting-city-freeways-after-half-a-century.php

The 1969 Melbourne Metropolitan Transportation Plan was bold and resulted in major motorways being built across the city in the intervening years. This aspiration lives on in the relentless pursuit of new mega-road projects in Melbourne and regional Victoria by the current state government. 

From early days these projects met with community resistance.

For example, the Tree Society was directly involved in opposition to the extension of the Eastern Freeway through the Koonung and Mullum-Mullum Valleys in the 1980s and 1990s and is opposed to the North East Link (along with many other community groups) from Greensborough through to Ringwood. 

As Australian cities continue to build massive urban freeways and toll roads half a century after the heyday of modernist planning, it is time to pause and reflect.

Review of Strategic Direction Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre Analysis and Options Report

As of end-March 2020, there is no information on the council website regarding the public consultation process planned for February 2020 on the project to review the vision for the future of Box Hill.

This may be due to COVID-19 concerns and the negative effects on the normal functioning of the Box Hill MAC.

Current Planning Issues

A summary of the current status of planning issues requiring the Tree Society’s input follows:

  • Laburnum to Blackburn ‘Shared Use Path’ – despite the best efforts of local community groups and individuals, VicRoads, the Department of Transport and Whitehorse Council have disregarded local concerns and will build a 3-metre wide concrete path across the middle of Laburnum Station Gardens. The authorities have rejected a shorter, community-preferred route that required simple tree sensitive construction methods and would have reduced the amount of concrete used. The Department of Transport’s route favours traditional construction techniques over the integrity of the natural landscape and maximizing passive recreational opportunities for the local community. The proposed path’s proximity to a playground, garden beds and mature canopy trees (and their root systems) is a real concern with at least three established eucalypts, other smaller trees, shrubs and recent council plantings threatened by the path works. This path incursion into a small yet significant park is particularly exasperating because this open space is far more important now with the increasing number of residents occupying the medium-density unit developments in the Residential Growth Zone between the railway line and Whitehorse Road. The neighbourhood is currently devoid of parks and open space with only one ‘pocket’ park for this large residential area. The shared use path will then run along Laburnum Street thankfully without tree losses but a busy and dangerous ‘rat-run’ for motorists none-the-less. At the eastern end of Laburnum Street, the path turns north along the nature-strip on the western side of Main Street sacrificing five substantial street trees in an area already denuded by the recent level crossing removal.

An alternative route via Diggers Way was dismissed by the authorities via a safety report of dubious quality.

Special thanks to Tree Society members Graeme Stone and Chris Trueman for valiantly advocating for a more reasonable local community outcome.

  • 1-3 Naughton Grove Blackburn – Good news for the local community and council – the decision of Council was affirmed and no permit for WH/2018/1171 is to be granted according to the VCAT Order in February 2020. The planning application  was for the subdivision of the land and tree/vegetation removal. 
  • 124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn – Another win for Council and the community occurred in late November 2019 with VCAT affirming Council’s decision not to grant a permit for the development of 5 bespoke double -storey apartments plus a 2-level underground car park at this address. 

The Member observed that no evidence was presented on the ecological and habitat values of the location and its trees and vegetation (refer paras 43 to 49 in the Order under ‘Habitat and Wildlife Corridor’) despite a number of parties emphasising the role of canopy trees in this context. 

The Member also noted that none of the expert witnesses were ecologists, the inference being that ecological evidence would be an important consideration in cases where canopy trees, habitat values and wildlife corridors were important components of the case.

The Tree society requests that Council act on this observation and seriously consider obtaining expert witness reports from Ecologists in future cases that go before VCAT.

The Tribunal (per Member M. Baird) concluded that:

112: The subject land is suitable for multiple units given its size.  The proposal for five dwellings would have benefits in terms of housing growth.  However, the subject land is in a location designated through the scheme as having specific characteristics that are sought to be protected and reinforced through control of new housing development.  The elements that contribute to its environmental and neighbourhood character are sought to be conserved and enhanced.  I am not satisfied the proposal assists to achieve these outcomes.  Rather, the size and scale of the proposed dwellings is too great to respect neighbourhood character, contribute to the preferred character and to achieve the objectives of SLO2.  In addition, the development results in unacceptable off-site and internal amenity impacts.

113 : I therefore conclude no permit should issue because, in the overall balance, the proposal does not achieve an acceptable outcome.

114: For the above reasons, the responsible authority’s decision is affirmed.

  • Taralye – A number of healthy trees were cut down at the oral language centre (137 Blackburn Road) in late February. The society has written to Council to protest their loss and seek information on the reasons for them being cut down. See article elsewhere in this newsletter for further details and possible actions Tree Society members can take to air their concerns to Council. 
  • 10 Eustace Street Blackburn – More trees have been cut down at this contentious ‘Big Shed

Dreaming’ site, apparently with council permission, in early March. Locals, the Blackburn Village Residents’ Group and Tree Society are understandably concerned and have sought further information from council. The Tree Society sent a letter to Council requesting answers to a number of key questions. Council has since responded but without answering these questions or shedding much light on what is becoming a saga of tree removals by stealth at this site. 

  • 199 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – More good news – Council knocked back the 5-dwelling planning proposal for this site at the mid-March council meeting. The developer submitted another set of (revised) landscape plans to council early in 2020. Whilst these plans were an improvement, and the developer had vowed to retain all indigenous trees on the site, the Tree Society objected as there was a shortfall of 3-4 canopy trees and the site coverage (buildings and hard surfaces) was still too high. 
  • 201 Canterbury Road Blackburn – Revised landscape plans were submitted to council in

February 2020. Whilst an improvement the Tree Society remains an objector due to a shortfall of 2 canopy trees and the applicant’s desire to remove the Corymbia citriodora and 2 other established trees. A submission to this effect was forwarded to Council in early March. 

  • 209 Canterbury Road Blackburn – In mid-March Council decided to grant a permit for a 2dwelling residential development at this site with a number of conditions including the submission and council endorsement of an amended landscape plan. Council requires that a total of 6 trees (two capable of reaching 8 metres height, 2 of 12-15 metres and 2 trees of 15+ metres) in specified locations be included in the amended plans. As only three of the trees to be retained can be considered canopy trees of 12-15 metres in height the Tree Society concludes

that a shortfall of 2 canopy trees will result  – an unsatisfactory outcome for local neighbourhood character as defined in the NRZ-1 and SLO-2 provisions of the Whitehorse Planning Scheme.

  • 245-247 Canterbury Road Blackburn – The site has been cleared of buildings and all shrubs with a few trees retained along the northern border and in the southwest corner. The site has essentially been ‘moonscaped’ and is a depressing sight. 
  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn:
    • A revised set of plans for a 3-unit development (rather than 4 units) was received in early March from the applicant’s representative. 
    • There were no amended landscape planting plans in the revised documents, therefore, the society’s submission opposing the development remains current.
    • The 2-day VCAT Hearing scheduled for April 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic. However, the VCAT Member is requesting feedback on the possibility of conducting the hearing via alternative modes e.g. via written submissions, by telephone or electronically. 
    • The Tree Society argues that the hearing should be postponed to a later date when normality returns. This case is not ‘critical’ as defined by VCAT and the opportunity to crossexamine expert witnesses will be lost or severely hampered by alternative hearing modes. Cross examination of expert witnesses is a crucial component of VCAT hearings for all parties including VCAT Members. The society is concerned that procedural fairness and good governance will be severely compromised with the suggested alternatives to a traditional ‘face-to-face’ hearing. 
  • 10 Halley Street Blackburn – Nil to report.  
  • 27-29 The Avenue Blackburn – Council has acknowledged receipt of the Tree Society submission opposing this development in February 2020. The owner has amended the landscape plans and is privately lobbying submitters opposing the development (including the Tree Society).The society remains opposed to the development despite the amended plans.
  • 12 Laurel Grove Blackburn – A submission opposing the gross overdevelopment and associated tree removal on this site was forwarded to Council on 20 March. If allowed to progress this site will be denuded of trees and vegetation with little unencumbered space remaining for canopy tree replacement. The society has learned that this development has since been refused under delegated authority. This means that, due to the disruptions to the normal functioning of local government because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitehorse Council has delegated to the Chief Executive Officer all of its powers, functions and duties that it is legally able to delegate pursuant to the Local Government Act 1989 until further notice.   

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund (BDEPF)

In February 2020 the existing Tree Society and BDEPF committees recommended that the Tree Society committee manage the Fund into the future. 

As the Tree Society is the sponsoring organisation for the Fund this action represents an ideal and simple mechanism by which the Fund can continue to support environmental activities within Whitehorse.

Actions taken in March 2020:

  • Current Tree Society committee members not currently on the BDEP Fund committee (i.e. Dianne Tribe, Anne Payne, Ann Clayton and Mary Crouch) were nominated and formally accepted to become new members of the Fund committee. 
  • Newly nominated Fund committee members completed relevant Register of Environmental

Organisations (REO) nomination and responsible person forms and complied with a document detailing the characteristics of a ‘Responsible Person’ according to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

  • Current Fund committee members Andrew Lockwood, David Morrison and Louise Budd have submitted their resignations to the BDEP Fund committee. 
  • The smooth transition of Fund committee finances, procedures, functions and archival material will be facilitated by retiring and new committee personnel.
  • Office-bearers for the Fund will be David Berry (Chair), Anne Payne (Secretary), Brad Baker (Treasurer) and Dianne Tribe, Ann Clayton and Mary Crouch as committee members.
  • Fund meetings and reports will be a permanent agenda item at each Tree Society committee meeting in February, March, May July, September and November of each year (unless otherwise advertised and subject to the resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Louise Budd and Brad Baker have liaised re the financial and reporting functions of the Fund.
  • Andrew Lockwood has formally handed over Fund documents and other administration materials to Anne Payne. 

The Fund supports conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse. 

Donations can be made by: 

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com         Webhttp://www.crowag.com

CROWAG meetings and activities have been postponed until further notice however the executive will monitor local issues of relevance to CROWAG’s remit and keep members informed of actions taken. The CROWAG Membership & Communications Action Plan Workshop scheduled for midApril has also been postponed.  

CROWAG ‘Green Notices’ initiative – In December 2019, Ross Gillespie and David Berry met with senior council planning staff (Jeff Green and Kim Marriott) on the Green Notices initiative. An important outcome was for Ms. Marriott to consult with ‘on ground’ planning staff on the implications Green Notices initiative during January and February. CROWAG requested feedback from Ms. Marriott in early March but has yet to receive a reply.

Snippets

•           A Comparison of Council Expenditure on Street Trees (1991-92 and 2019-20) Almost thirty years ago in the 12-month tree planting season of 1991-1992 the Parks and Recreation Department of the old City of Nunawading planted 2,941 street trees.

The City of Nunawading then covered an area approximately half the size of the current City of Whitehorse (the City of Whitehorse resulted from the merging of Box Hill and Nunawading City Councils in the mid-1990s).

Furthermore, for the 10 years from 1983 to 1992 an average of 1,700 street trees per year were planted in the City of Nunawading, (source City of Nunawading Parks and Recreation Annual Report 1991-92).

In stark contrast, the number of street trees planted in the City of Whitehorse in 2019 was 1,434 according to information provided at the recent Whitehorse Council Budget Briefing session in February 2020.

The obvious question is why has the tree planting program been reduced so markedly over the intervening years? 

On examination of the Whitehorse Council annual budgets for the past fifteen years the answer becomes obvious – the Budget allocation for council’s street tree program has not increased from the rather low figure of $300,00 per year since 2003-4.

The total street tree planting expenditure for the period 2003-4 to 2018-19 was ~ $4.5M.  By comparison Whitehorse City Council spent the following amounts of money on major projects during the same period:  – $2+M on the Morack Golf Club 

– $3+M on car parks (Note – more $millions will be spent on a multi-deck carpark at the Nunawading Civic Centre over the next couple of years) – Around $4.5M on the Box Hill Gardens and  – Over $50M on Box Hill Aqualink!

The society will continue to lobby Council to increase funding for street trees in the city and remains hopeful that this year’s budget will provide for a much-needed ramping up of the city’s street tree  program.

•     According to Whitehorse Council we are NOT living in an Era of Climate Emergency (well not yet anyway!)

At the Whitehorse Ordinary Council meeting held on 24 February 2020 an Agenda item ‘Developing an Updated Climate Response Plan’ was discussed under City Development: Engineering and Environmental (refer page 35 of the Agenda available on Council’s website).

The resulting Motion on this issue, passed unanimously, fell short of Council declaring a Climate Emergency preferring instead to develop an interim Climate Response Plan for 2 years prior to the development of a longer-term Climate Response Plan that will be embedded into Council’s next Sustainability Strategy in 2021/22, to be effective from 2022 onwards.  In other words, ‘business as usual’!

This in spite of the efforts of Cr Prue Cutts and Cr Tina Liu to put an Amendment to the original Motion adding:

‘That Council declares a Climate Emergency reflecting the need to take accelerated action to mitigate and adapt to climate change now and into the future.’

However, this amendment appears to be too radical for Whitehorse Council as it didn’t get up with four councillors voting in favour (Crs Carr, Cutts, Ellis and Liu) and five voting against (Crs Barker, Bennett, Davenport, Massoud and Munroe).

Bouquets to Crs Cutts, Liu, Carr and Ellis and brickbats to the rest!

How Radical is this so-called ‘Declaration of a Climate Emergency’?

Three years ago in May 2017 theMunicipal Association of Victoria (MAV), the legislated peak body for 79 local governments, passed a climate emergency motion, with 77 percent of voting municipalities in support. 

The MAV declaration included recognition that:

· We are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government

· Human induced climate change stands in the first rank of threats to humans, civilisation and other species

· It is still possible to restore a safe climate and prevent most of the anticipated long-term climate impacts, but only if societies across the world adopt an emergency mode of action that can enable the restructuring of the physical economy at the necessary scale and speed.

Further information on the declaration of a Climate Emergency can be obtained from the following link: climateemergencydeclaration.org/

In summary a climate emergency situation and response will restore a safe world climate within a shorter time frame than if humans respond on a ‘business as usual’ basis (the latter alternative is similar to the approach taken by Whitehorse Council).

Climate emergency refers to catastrophic changes to the world’s climate caused by human activity and resulting in a loss of a safe climate that threatens all life on earth.  

The climate emergency response refers to taking action at a scale and speed that will restore a safe climate in a benign and timely manner. 

So, an element of urgency is required – but alas, not to be observed in Whitehorse Council’s response.

In Australia, where the climate emergency declaration mobilisation and petition was launched four years ago in May 2016, close to 100 jurisdictions representing 8 million people, or a third of the population, have declared a climate emergency.

These jurisdictions include the government of the Australian Capital Territory, and South Australia’s Upper House. 

More than 100 of the candidates in the 18 May 2019 federal election had signed the Climate Emergency Declaration petition.

Major city councils including Melbourne City Council (CC), Sydney CC, Adelaide CC, Hobart CC, Darwin CC, Launceston CC, Newcastle CC, Wollongong CC, Broken Hill CC have all declared that a climate emergency exists.

As have many Victorian municipalities including Ballarat, Banyule, Bayside, Brimbank, Cardinia

Shire, Darebin, Frankston, Greater Dandenong, Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Kingston, Manningham, Maribyrnong, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Yarra and the Yarra Ranges.

But not Whitehorse – yet!

•     Community Engagement by Whitehorse Council Falls Short

Whitehorse Council regularly quotes1. The City of Whitehorse Community Engagement Framework, but the framework remains an unknown quantity as there is no information on Council’s website, no copies are available for public viewing and scant details of the framework have been made available to residents. 

(1. Refer page 28 of the Whitehorse Council Plan (2017-2021) under Strategic Direction 4, section 4.3.3).

Council’s website does provide the following information:Community Consultation and Engagement’. Consultation is important to assist Council understand community perspectives on a wide range of topics. Consultation subjects include specific localised issues through to planning for the future needs of the whole municipality.Council consults and engages with the community in multiple ways. For example, planning consultation forums, interviews, resident surveys, invitations for submissions, committees, public meetings, information nights, direct mail to residents, the provision of drafts and exhibits for public comment, on-site meetings, online surveys and at Special Committee Meetings where residents are given the opportunity to comment on any issue.

What community engagement policies have been implemented by our neighbouring councils?    A quick search of the websites for surrounding councils shows that the City of Boroondara has a readily accessible Community Engagement Policy (2015-2020), the City of

Monash has the Monash Engagement Framework (2011), Manningham Council has the Community

Engagement and Public Participation Policy (2019) and Maroondah City Council has a Community Engagement Policy (2015). All are available for public viewing but the relevant City of Whitehorse document cannot be found.  

Whitehorse Council will have to address this omission promptly as the Victorian Local Government Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020 and the new legislation provides the legal underpinning to ‘ …revitalise local democracy through facilitating greater participation by candidates, voters and citizens in council activities and promoting a greater understanding and value for the role of councils as democratically elected bodies. This is intended to strengthen the right to participate in public life …’. (Source: Statement of Compatibility: Local Government Exposure Draft Bill 2018).  

A key feature of the legislation provides for a new governance framework that will more clearly define council outcomes and help reverse the widening disconnect between local government and its constituents as observed by the Tree Society, other community organisations and individuals interacting with local government. 

More specifically one of the major legislative reforms is to ‘ … undertake deliberative community engagement processes before adopting a four-year Council Plan and four-year Budget so communities better inform strategic directions and spending priorities of council …’

The Tree Society contends that this legislation will require local governments to be more transparent, collaborative, responsive, professional and with a much-improved governance for their constituents into the future. The legislation will also more closely connect councils with their communities by actively facilitating community and individual participation in the council decisionmaking process.  

•    The Drawdown Review 2020

Some uplifting reading in these dark times. The book, Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken and sponsored by Project Drawdown, was published in 2017. It is a comprehensive body of work measuring and publishing the top 100 solutions to climate change. The project and book have since influenced university curricula, city climate plans, businesses, community action and philanthropic strategies. 

Project Drawdown is a non-for-profit organization. A global coalition of scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs and advocates has mapped, measured, modelled, and communicated substantive solutions to global warming, with the goal of reaching climate drawdown

Climate drawdown is the point at which greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere level off and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis. Drawdown is a milestone in reversing climate change and eventually reducing global average temperatures. 

The Drawdown Review 2020 is Project Drawdown’s follow-up publication updating the assessment of solutions to move the world toward Drawdown. The publication can be downloaded at   https://drawdown.org/drawdown-framework/drawdown-review-2020  The Drawdown Review 2020 lists and describes ten (10) Key Insights to achieving climate drawdown swiftly, effectively and safely without the need to wait for the invention and/or implementation of new technologies. The ten Insights are:

  1. Drawdown can be reached by mid-century if existing climate solutions are scaled up. 
  2. Climate solutions are interconnected as a system, and all are needed.
  3. Beyond addressing greenhouse gases, climate solutions have “co-benefits” that contribute to a better, more equitable world.
  4. The financial case for climate solutions is crystal clear – savings significantly outweigh costs.
  5. The majority of climate solutions reduce or replace the use of fossil fuels. These solutions must be fast-tracked while actively stopping the use of these fossil fuels.
  6. Drawdown cannot be achieved without simultaneously reducing carbon emissions toward zero and supporting nature’s carbon sinks.
  7. Some of the most powerful climate solutions receive comparably little attention and need to be addressed. Examples include food waste reduction, adoption of plant-rich diets, preventing leaks and improving disposal of chemical refrigerants, restoration of temperate and tropical forests (which are powerful, vast carbon sinks) and broad access to high-quality, voluntary reproductive healthcare and high-quality, inclusive education.
  8. Accelerators are critical to move solutions forward at the scale, speed, and scope required.
  9. Opportunities exist at every level for all individuals, groups and institutions to participate in advancing climate solutions.
  10. Immense commitment, collaboration, and ingenuity will be essential to make the necessary changes required for climate drawdown to become a reality.

•    Preferred Tree Contractors – The tree society committee possesses a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and a high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. A charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times 

(Please note that normal Tree Society meetings have been postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Normally, the tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.

Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details

Website:         http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.

Email:             Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com 

Postal address:         PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

  COMMITTEE
President                  David Berry.              9890 7915 or 0413 457 184
Secretary                Anne Payne9878 1152
Treasurer               Brad Baker 
Membership SecretaryDianne Tribe 
Committee MemberAnn Clayton 
Committee Member  Mary Crouch
BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.  Aims to: •  Promote and improve the natural  environment      in the City of Whitehorse Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment Disseminate information to members

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.

Inc. no. A15207B

November 2019 Newsletter

Editorial

Postponement of the Celebration of Les Smith’s involvement in the Tree Society and

Cancellation of the Society’s 60th Anniversary

Due to circumstances beyond the control of the tree society committee the celebration of Les Smith’s contribution to the natural landscape in Whitehorse has been postponed to a date yet to be determined.

In addition, the tree society’s 60th anniversary get-together has been cancelled due to committee ‘overload’ with particular reference to current major issues (Amendment C219, The North East Link and the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre) and the ever-increasing number of submissions and VCAT appearances with which the society has been involved in response to inappropriate development planning applications in Whitehorse.

The tree society desperately needs more active participation by existing members and an injection of new blood – young, vibrant, community-minded individuals with a lofty regard for the natural landscape within Whitehorse.

So we need you to join the committee to:

  • Respond to inappropriate planning applications ‘requiring’ tree removal
  • Attend council meetings and report back on issues affecting our landscape
  • Write submissions, attend planning forums and represent the society at VCAT hearings •      Actively lobby on behalf of trees and vegetation in the wider Whitehorse landscape
  • Actively help to recruit new, young and energetic members of the tree society.

The risk is that, without your help, the society will not reach its 65th year, the inevitable consequence being accelerating tree losses and destruction of the city’s natural landscape into the future.

David Berry  President BDTPS Inc.

Amendment C219 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme  

Whitehorse Council has prepared a planning scheme amendment to convert the interim Significant

Landscape Overlay Schedule 9 (SLO9) into permanent citywide tree controls known as Amendment C219. There has been a period of community consultation on the Amendment to which the tree society made a detailed response (see summary below). Council resolved to refer Amendment C219 to a Planning Panels Victoria Hearing to be held in early December 2019 to which the tree society will make a presentation. The Panel, comprising three Members will hear submitters in an independent forum, deliberate and provide fair, unbiased advice to Council and the Minister for Planning about the Amendment. 

The tree society endorses Amendment C219 and views the Amendment as the culmination of almost sixty years of community advocacy for the protection and enhancement of our city’s natural landscape – in this instance within private ownership. This Amendment will help our city regain the status of being a Green and Leafy city and hopefully reverse the alarming tree canopy loss of the past decade.

Tree Society Concerns regarding Amendment C219

The tree society, however, has a number of concerns with the Amendment in its current form. It is a diluted version of what is required, particularly in light of the extent of tree canopy loss since the turn of the century and especially in the past 5 years (Whitehorse has suffered a 2.3% tree canopy decline in the past five years).

Whitehorse residents not yet afforded tree controls should be granted the same level of tree protection as enjoyed by residents in the SLO1-SLO8 protected suburbs. We believe that all residents in Whitehorse should enjoy the benefits that trees provide by way of the amenity, habitat and shading to cool our city, not to forget the economic benefits – trees add $ value to residential properties.

In summary the tree society’s concerns include: 

  • The permit trigger for tree trunk circumference should be the same as for the existing SLO areas

i.e. 50+ cm rather than 1+ metre. This avoids confusion for residents, developers and arborists and provides for better retention of the tree canopy throughout the city. 

  • The provisions relating to buildings and works near existing trees should be for a minimum setback of 4 metres (similar to the provisions for SLO1-8) rather than 3 metres as proposed for Amendment C219. A three metre setback will impinge on the structural root zone of most true canopy trees and thus negatively impact their health, vigour and life expectancy.  
  • We advocate that a permit should be required to remove a tree located less than 3 metres from the wall of an existing house or in-ground swimming pool. Many existing trees in SLO9 areas are located close to houses and/or pools without interfering with their structural integrity. 
  • The conflation of the three proposed provisions, as listed above, for Amendment C219; i.e. a higher tree circumference permit trigger, a reduction in minimum setbacks and permit exemptions for trees within three metres of dwellings or pools may not achieve the objective of reversing tree canopy losses in Whitehorse. Assessing a number of residential sites including the author’s Blackburn South residence reveals that the ‘moonscaping’ of residential blocks in SLO9 areas can still be accomplished with ease. The tree society requests that council more forensically examine the practical outcomes of these proposed provisions before they are included in Amendment C219.  
  • 35 square metres is not sufficient area to allow a true canopy tree to flourish. It should be 50 square metres as for the existing SLOs. This enlarged area allows the canopy tree to at least reach the expected height of 12-15 metres. In our experience, with the many planning applications that we have assessed and the VCAT hearings attended, most applicants will seek to grow canopy trees in areas where there is insufficient unencumbered space for them to survive and thrive. Tall canopy trees planted in small spaces will never achieve their optimal height and canopy spread because of restricted root growth and minimal allowance for water, nutrients and oxygen to penetrate through to the root zones.
  • No permit required to remove environmental weeds. This provision is supported but there needs to be a process to confirm that the trees are, in fact, weed species and a firm commitment required that the weedy trees be replaced by non-weedy species to make up for the lost canopy cover.
  • The society has always been opposed to the ‘dead, dying and dangerous’ provision because it has been abused by developers and owners in the past. It is relatively easy to render an

‘unwanted’  tree dead, dying and dangerous thus circumventing the need for council scrutiny and permit application/approval. In addition many dead trees are important providers of habitat – the tree society knows of many such habitat trees on public and private land in Whitehorse.

Extra Funding of $30,000 for the City’s Street Tree Program for 2019-2020 

The society made a presentation on pertinent aspects of the draft 2019-20 Budget at a Whitehorse

Council meeting in June. Topics covered included the Whitehorse Street Tree Program, Council’s Open Space Reserve Fund, the Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy and ‘ParksWide Department funding.

With particular reference to the Whitehorse Street Tree Program the tree society argued that:  • Funding has stagnated for over fifteen years averaging $300,000 per year and 

•     Many residential streets have less than half the desired number of street trees.

However the budget allocation of $300,000 remained unchanged in the draft Budget – in the same period Council spent around $4.5M on the Box Hill Gardens and over $50M on Box Hill Aqualink).

In response to active lobbying by the tree society, other community groups and individuals, Council amended the program’ budget to $330,000 which, whilst welcome, falls short of what is required and also what other councils are spending, many of which have increased street tree program funding markedly in response to Melbourne’s ever-dwindling tree canopy cover. For example Moreland Council allocated $500,000 to plant 5,000 street trees in 2019-2020, in direct response to the recommendations of their Urban Forest Strategy.

North East Link Project Environmental Effects Statement – Submission and Presentation by the Tree Society 

The Tree Society made a detailed submission on the North East Link (NEL) Environmental Effects Statement (EES) in June (a copy of which is available on the society’s website at https://bdtps.wordpress.com) and made a detailed presentation at the subsequent Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) hearing on 4 September 2019. 

In addition to emphasising the main points arising from the tree society’s June submission on the NEL EES, the presentation at the hearing highlighted a recent research article on tree decline within the Melbourne metropolitan area (refer to following article titled Melbourne’s Tree Canopy in Sharp Decline) and a successful case study in local offset planting program that needs to be emulated to help account for the massive losses of trees and associated vegetation with the NEL freeway construction (refer to accompanying article in this newsletter titled Whitehorse Level Crossing Removal Offset Planting Initiative: A Case Study for Success in Combating Urban Tree Decline). 

The Conclusions from the Tree Society presentation to the IAC hearing were:

  • There will be massive, ongoing and insufferable disruption during the construction and operational stages of the NEL project.
  • The environmental and amenity impacts will be much worse than stated in the ESS documents.
  • Any beneficial effects of the NEL on Melbourne’s road network will be minimal and short-lived.
  • Sooner or later the state government and government authorities will be forced to tip the balance in favour of creating a world-class public transport network and stop building expensive, and ultimately useless freeways. 
  • This project is one of the most important and potentially destructive issues facing the

Whitehorse civic and urban environment and will do little to alleviate motor traffic issues in Whitehorse. Indeed this project will exacerbate current traffic congestion resulting in gridlock for Middleborough, Elgar and Springvale Roads into the future. 

  • Should the NEL Project proceed in its current guise then proactive offset plantings need to be initiated as soon as possible in Boroondara, Manningham and Whitehorse to help reverse the drastic tree canopy decline in the eastern suburbs as highlighted in recent research reports.

Melbourne’s Tree Canopy in Sharp Decline

According to a recent RMIT research study, Urban Vegetation Cover Change 2014-2018 (July 2019), authored by Associate Professor Joe Hurley et al from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research, around 2.3% of the tree canopy in Whitehorse was lost within a 5-year period from 2014 to 2018. 

The research paper can be sourced at:

This tree canopy loss is not confined to Whitehorse because the research encompasses metropolitan Melbourne. For example, municipalities abutting the Eastern Freeway have also lost a significant percentage of their tree canopies over the past 5 years: Manningham lost 2.5%, Boroondara lost 1.3% and to the north, Banyule and Nillumbik lost around 1% each.

The construction of NEL and the resultant paucity of open space along the widened Eastern Freeway will grossly exacerbate this depressing finding.

Major causes of tree canopy loss in metropolitan Melbourne include:

  • Large scale infrastructure projects on public land such as level crossing removals, recently at Blackburn and Heatherdale and massive projects like the NEL.
  • The preference for quantity infill development to house Melbourne’s burgeoning population at the expense of maintaining and enhancing the quality of the natural landscape. (NB – the objectives of higher density living within a high quality natural environment are not mutually exclusive with the application of world-class urban design principles)
  • Consequently the built form dominates the residential block such that true canopy (or shade) trees can never again grow and thrive on much of the privately owned land in Melbourne. 

In summary the report demonstrates that:

  • Melbourne has lost almost 2,000 hectares of tree cover from 2014 to 2018, an area equal to four times the size of the Whitehorse suburb of Blackburn
  • The eastern suburbs have experienced the greatest tree canopy loss with Whitehorse (2.3% loss), Manningham (2.5% loss) and Maroondah (3.2% loss) filling 26th, 27th and 29th places as the worst-performing of 30 metropolitan municipalities in the study 
  • Associate Professor Hurley’s paper provides a comprehensive list of the economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits of canopy trees in the urban landscape

According to the research paper, the tree canopy for the City of Whitehorse has declined by 2.3% over the five years (2014-2018) and is now 20% which makes Whitehorse one of the most tree canopy-impoverished municipalities within the middle-ring of metropolitan councils in Melbourne. 

Recent examples of major tree losses in Whitehorse include:

  • The removal of the Blackburn Road & Heatherdale Road level crossings (2016-2018) resulted in the cutting down of over six hundred (600) mature trees and elimination of thousands of shrubs and ground storey plants including remnant vegetation. A similar number of trees and vegetation will be removed with the proposed grade separation works at the Mont Albert and Surrey Hills rail crossings starting soon
  • Tree works (2016-2017) at a number of Melbourne Water retarding basins in Whitehorse including Masons Road Retarding Basin, Blackburn, Lernes Street Retarding Basin, Forest Hill and Billabong Park Vermont South resulted in the removal of over fifty (50) trees 
  • In 2016-2017 sixty (60) mature trees and many more shrubs were removed by Whitehorse Council to construct a shared use path along Middleborough Road, Box Hill between Canterbury and Albion Roads. 
  • Residential development at the Seventh Day Adventist Land in Central Road Nunawading resulted in the destruction of eighty (80) mature indigenous Eucalypts post 2016
  • A proposed childcare development at 25 Holland Road Blackburn South (2017). Following VCAT’s rejection of the planning application, the applicant organized the destruction of twenty-five (25) mature trees on the site. The site currently remains devoid of any vegetation.

Earlier research detailed in the report Benchmarking Australia’s Tree Canopy: An i-Tree Assessment, 2014, authored by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney introduced a municipal tree canopy assessment tool to objectively measure municipal tree canopy over time. 

The report cites that Whitehorse had a 22.9% tree canopy cover in 2014.

This is equivalent to the 20% canopy cover in 2018 with the 2.3% canopy loss for the years 20152018 incorporated as determined by the RMIT report findings. 

At this rate (and exacerbated by the massive tree losses along the Eastern Freeway) Whitehorse will be lucky to have 15% tree canopy cover by 2030!

Whitehorse Level Crossing Removal Offset Planting Initiative: A Case Study for Success in Combating Urban Tree Decline 

In 2017, during the final stages of the Blackburn and Heatherdale level crossing removal projects in the city of Whitehorse, local state politicians and the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) were persuaded by local community groups, including the tree society, to implement an ‘offset’ planting program of indigenous trees and lower storey vegetation within Whitehorse.

The community considered it critical that the offsets be planted as close as possible to the sites of

tree and vegetation removals and the main site chosen was on state-owned land in the Nunawading/Junction Road Parklands near the Eastern Freeway in Nunawading.  Over 24,000 indigenous plants including 1,250 trees were scheduled to be planted to help compensate for the loss of over 500 trees and thousands of shrubs along the railway corridor between Blackburn and Heatherdale. 

It is important to emphasize that the offset planting plan was over and above the landscape plantings that occurred in and around the Blackburn and Heatherdale LXR sites post-works completion.

Since then NELA has appropriated the Nunawading/Junction Road Parklands as a ‘lay down’ site for the NEL project for the next 5-7 years however the local community, with help from the tree society, managed to have around 3,000 indigenous trees, shrubs and lower storey plants planted in the parklands with the remaining 21,000 plants planted in the Healesville Freeway Reserve in Forest Hill.  These plantings occurred in December 2018 and the plants are thriving!

An Offset Planting1 Proposal for the North East Link: Eastern Freeway Section (with specific reference to the City of Whitehorse)

(1 The offset planting species would be predominantly indigenous plants and environmental weed species would be excluded).

The NEL EES states that 26,000 trees will be chopped down to make way for the North East Link (and be replaced by 30,000 trees elsewhere).

However, the tree society contends, based on the Whitehorse LXRA offset planting case study that:

  • Two to three times the number of tree removals (i.e. 60,000 to 90,000) need to be planted to adequately compensate for the destruction of the established urban forest along the proposed north-south route and Eastern Freeway widening
  • In addition, for the shrubs and lower storey plants, around twenty times this number (i.e. 1.2 to 1.8 million plants) need to be planted close to the NEL project site to compensate for the quoted plant losses
  • As there won’t be enough space along the NEL freeway reserve, particularly for the Eastern Freeway section, then these trees and other plants must be planted as close as possible to, but not within the freeway reserve (similar to what happened with the Whitehorse LXR offset planting case study). Should there be any available unencumbered space along the freeway reserve, the freeway reserve planting plan will be completely separate from the offset planting plan
  • The tree losses (either confirmed or ‘potentially impacted’) for the Eastern Freeway section will be upwards of 15,000 (Tables 4 and 5, page 56 NEL EES Summary Report). 
  • Therefore at least 30,000 trees (i.e. double that number) and 600,000 shrubs and lower storey plants need to be planted in Whitehorse, Boroondara and Manningham as part of the offset planting program.

                               §     Methodology (for the proposed Eastern Freeway section)

  • The relative municipal boundary exposure to the Eastern Freeway by Manningham, Whitehorse and Boroondara is estimated to be in the ratio of 4:3:2 in that order.
  • Thus for the Eastern Freeway offset planting component, 44% of the trees and other plants would be planted in Manningham, 34% planted in Whitehorse and 22% planted in Boroondara
  • This is equivalent to:
MunicipalityTree NumbersOther Vegetation NumbersTotal Number of Plants 
Manningham13,200264,000277,200
Whitehorse10,200204,000214,200
Boroondara  6,600132,000138,600
Total30,000600,000630,000

                                                        §    Planting Sites in Whitehorse

  • For the City of Whitehorse the objective is to plant the offset plants (10,200 trees and 204,000 shrubs and lower storey plants) in public parks and open spaces close to but not within the existing freeway reserve.
    • Planting sites would include council-owned parks as well as reserves owned by government authorities including Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria 
    • Preference is given to those parks within walking distance of the freeway reserve (i.e. 500 metres), followed by those parks 0.5 to 1 km, 1-2 km and more than 2 km from the Eastern

Freeway  o According to the Whitehorse Open Space Strategy (2007), Whitehorse contains 335 parks and reserves including 81 large regional and/or municipal parks.  o The total area for the city’s parks is 690 hectares

  • Thus the offset planting density would be 15 trees per hectare and 
    • 300 shrubs and lower storey plants per hectare
    • For example Wurundjeri Walk is a 20-hectare regional park in Blackburn South. 300 trees and 6,000 shrubs and lower storey plants would be planted in Wurundjeri Walk using these calculations.
    • This offset planting initiative is realistic and will help to ameliorate the tree and vegetation losses resulting from the construction of the North East Link.

                                              §    Tree & Vegetation Maintenance Program

  • The NEL Authority would be responsible for the administrative and financial costs for securing, planting and managing the plants for the first two years. This would include planting bed preparation, post-planting irrigation, weed control and replacement planting.
    • Following the two-year period the land manager will take on the responsibility for managing the plants.

Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre (MAC)

The Review of Strategic Direction Box Hill MAC Analysis and Options Report was subjected to a community consultation stage from 15 July until 2 August 2019.

A report and officers’ recommendations concerning the feedback received for this Study was considered at a council meeting on 21 October. The Agenda and Minutes are available on Council’s web site at https://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/about-council/what-we-do/meetings/council-meeting-agendas-minutes The officers’ report concluded that:

‘The synthesis of information contained in the Analysis and Options Report and the possible directions that Box Hill could take was the subject of consultation with the broader community. This involved presenting the significant work that has been assembled in the Report to the community to verify if the project is progressing in line with community expectations. The consultation concluded that there is broad support for the vision and propositions presented in the Report. The consultation also found that there is clear support for providing more guidance about future development in the Box Hill MAC. Some of the feedback raised issues that will be addressed at later stages of the project or by other work that Council is currently undertaking such as the Box Hill Integrated Transport Strategy and Box Hill Open Space Strategy Review. The findings from the Phase 2 consultation will be used by the consultant team to determine the appropriate planning framework for the Box Hill MAC, including how to manage future residential growth and balance it with future employment requirements. The consultation outcomes will also assist to define and respond to the distinct character of each neighbourhood within the MAC. It is recommended that Council acknowledge the feedback received during the consultation period about the Analysis and Options Report and provide support to the project as it progresses.’

The following Council resolution was carried unanimously by Council:

That Council acknowledges the feedback received about the Box Hill Analysis and Options Report.

The next phases will seek to update the existing Structure Plan and prepare an urban design framework. There will be further consultation after these documents have been delivered to Council.

Current Planning Issues

The society has made submissions in response to a large number of planning applications that would require substantial tree and vegetation loss/damage or include landscape planting plans that are deficient. 

A synopsis of the current planning issues follows:

  • 1-3 Naughton Grove Blackburn – VCAT Hearing on 18 December 2019. The society will be making a presentation
  • 14 Dickens Street Blackburn– Council granted a planning permit granted with conditions in August.
  • 124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn – the tree society, Blackburn Village Residents Group and local residents presented at a 5-day VCAT hearing on this development proposal in October and November. The society is opposed to the 5 double -storey apartments including a 2-level underground car park and utility area considering it to be an overdevelopment completely out of character with the neighbourhood with the associated loss of over 40 trees including many significant indigenous specimens. 
  • 10 Eustace Street Blackburn– The VCAT report supported council in refusing the applicant a planning permit to build a ‘Big Shed’ on the property that would have resulted in the loss of a number of trees. 
  • 42-48 Glenburnie Road Mitcham – The VCAT hearing scheduled for October was cancelled because the parties settled. The tree society has no further information on the extent of tree and vegetation losses consequent to the proposed development.
  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – TS submission (18 April) objected to the construction of four double-storey townhouses with the virtual moonscaping of the site. Council subsequently refused the planning application. The applicant subsequently applied for review at VCAT. 

A VCAT hearing is planned in April 2018 at which the tree society will be making a presentation.

  • 25 Holland Rd. Blackburn South –the applicant sought a review of the development permit conditions at VCAT. The hearing was held in September and the VCAT report found in favour of the applicant. The tree society maintains that the 5-unit development will not allow sufficient open space for canopy tree replacement. Time will tell!
  • 199 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – The applicant submitted plans with council and is still talking with tree society and local resident representatives. The landscape plan has recently been viewed by us and we think it is sub-standard for the SLO2 area that the site occupies. The 5-unit development plus associated hard surfacing is also an overdevelopment of the site. However the applicant has agreed to keep all five of the indigenous trees. 

Further talks with the applicant are planned. 

  • 245-247 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – Officers’ report to council in July. The society’s main concern was insufficient space for replacement canopy trees. With minor modifications Council granted the applicant a planning permit. 
  • 43 Laburnum Street Blackburn – The society forwarded a  submission to Council opposing this development and particularly the removal of 2 significant trees ( a Eucalyptus nicholii and a Corymbia ficifolia). The permit was granted with significant conditions including the retention of the Eucalyptus nicholii. Unfortunately the Corymbia ficifolia will be removed in yet another blow for the city’s ever-dwindling tree canopy!
  • 214 Canterbury Road – Tree society submission to Council opposing the proposed development with tree loss and tree root damage. Notice of a Planning Consultation Forum scheduled for 31 July 2019 was received from Council.  
  • 201 Canterbury Road Blackburn – A notice of a Planning Consultation Forum scheduled for 30 July 2019 was received from Council on 17 July. In August tree society committee members met with the applicant and representatives including an arborist on site re the proposed medical centre development. The applicant has subsequently submitted plans to council to which the society will assess and send a submission in response.  
  • 209 Canterbury Road – A permit application for two double storey townhouses has been submitted to Council and is currently being advertised. The tree society will assess the plans with particular reference to trees currently growing on the site and assessed by the applicant’s arborist and the applicant’s landscape planting plan for the townhouses post-construction.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund (BDEPF)

There is some concern amongst committee members about the future of the Fund as its activities have recently declined with few community environmental grants applied for or allocated over the past two years . The committee perception is that the Fund urgently requires rejuvenation, ideally via the injection of committee members with publicity, marketing and financial skills.

Alternatives to this rejuvenation would include winding up the Fund or transferring its management to the tree society committee (the tree society is the sponsoring organisation for the Fund).

For the Fund to continue and remain active volunteers (or ‘Responsible Persons’) are urgently sought to join the Fund committee. Ideally new committee members would possess the skill sets previously described to enable the Fund to function as a useful source of grant money for worthy and practical environmental projects within Whitehorse.

The Fund supports conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse. Committee meetings are generally held quarterly in February, April, July and October.

Donations can be made by: 

o Completing and sending a cheque to the fund at the following address:

BDEPF, PO Box 210, Blackburn, VIC 3130 o Making an on-line donation at http://www.givenow.com.au/cause1518 The fund’s web-site address is http://blackburnenviro.wordpress.com/

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com 

Webhttp://www.crowag.com

Since July 2019, CROWAG, of which the Tree Society is a foundation group member, has been busy in the following areas:

  • The new local MP for Box Hill, Paul Hamer, made a presentation and answered many questions related to current planning issues at the August CROWAG meeting. Paul gave very generously of his time to the CROWAG membership and a letter of thanks was forwarded to his office in appreciation
  • In August CROWAG forwarded a submission to council regarding Amendment C219 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme that will confer permanent status to Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9 (SLO9).  This will provide tree controls to areas in Whitehorse not yet covered by an SLO. CROWAG will present at the December Planning Panels Victoria hearing on this topic
  • CROWAG member Geoff White represented CROWAG at a number of Box Hill Vision Review SRG meetings and duly reported back to the group
  • The ‘Green Notices for Development Sites’ CROWAG initiative. On 18 October CROWAG members Ross Gillespie and David Berry met with the Mayor Cr Bill Bennett and CEO Mr. Simon McMillan to introduce this concept (that started as an idea by Cr Bennett late last year). A full report on the meeting’s outcomes will be proved to the November CROWAG meeting The notice’s purpose is to provide useful information to the public on trees and vegetation to be retained and removed and details of replacement planting of trees and other vegetation once completed
  • In September CROWAG formally welcomed the new CEO for Whitehorse Mr. Simon McMillan to the city and introduced CROWAG to him 
  • CROWAG is investigating public liability and officer insurances for CROWAG and affiliated groups/members in response to ‘no insurance, no show’ stance by council for incorporated community groups attending the Whitehorse Spring Festival
  • CROWAG is actively seeking members with public relations and media skills (webmaster, Facebook, Twitter experts etc.) to join the group – any volunteers?
  • CROWAG will hold a workshop in early 2020 to develop an Action Plan for the group for the next 3-5 years. 

Farewell Ron 

Tree Society Life Member Ron Grainger died on 15 October 2019.

Ron, a long-term Blackburn resident was a committed and diligent campaigner for the local Blackburn community and for the preservation and enhancement of our natural landscape.

He was instrumental in helping to frame the community response to Council’s new Planning Scheme in the late 1990s with many a meeting held at Ron’s home to discuss what constitutes local neighbourhood character in Blackburn and surrounding suburbs and the reasons why residents value where they live so highly.

Ron was a keen observer of what was happening in his neighbourhood and could always be relied on to make the tree society committee aware of planning permit applications and other planning issues of importance. Consequently most of Ron’s ‘tip-offs’ demanded an official tree society response to Council. We need a ‘Ron Grainger’ in every neighbourhood in Whitehorse – he had a passion for Blackburn specifically and Whitehorse more generally.

According to David Morrison (current Secretary of the Blackburn Village Residents Group and Life Member of the Tree Society):

‘… Ron would typically be working on his computer at all hours of the night and early morning writing emails, researching planning laws and decisions and drafting submissions …’

Ron was one of the founding members of the Blackburn Village Residents Group and held a number of positions on the BVRG committee, long-term secretary included. He was also actively involved with the Blackburn Creeklands and Box Hill Rugby Club.

In 2016, Ron and his wife Kay moved to Bega, NSW to be closer to family. 

Vale Ron Grainger: 12.8.1928 – 15.10.2019.

Snippets

  • The tree society committee possesses a list of preferred Tree Contractors, a copy of which can provided to members on request. These contractors all possess the requisite qualifications, insurances and high regard for the value of trees and vegetation in the landscape.
  • In October the society formally welcomed Mr. Simon McMillan on his appointment as the new CEO for Whitehorse and requested a meeting to discuss issues of mutual interest. He was also forwarded a copy of Fighting for the Trees the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, the July newsletter and a document introducing the tree society.
  • The society recently hosted a visit from Friends of Drouin’s Trees organized by Drouin group convener Judy Farmer and tree society president David Berry. The group met with tree society committee members on Monday 9 September at the Blackburn Lake Visitors Centre. The committee provided an overview of the history of tree controls within the City of

Nunawading/Whitehorse with specific reference to Blackburn followed by a walk-and-talk through a number of Blackburn streets in SLO1, SLO2 and SLO9 areas. The Drouin group is advocating for tree controls in their town and more broadly within the Baw Baw Shire Council region.

The Drouin Friends group has produced two fine publications, Drouin Tree Walks and Birds of Drouin and copies of each book were presented to the tree society committee. A newspaper article on the event was published in the Warragul and Drouin Gazette in September 2019 titled Blackburn Tree Group Provides Inspiration. 

Thanks to tree society member Graeme Stone for forwarding a copy of the article to the tree society.

Tree society members are encouraged to visit beautiful Drouin and surrounds and complete one or more of the twelve tree walks in and around the town.

Further information on the Friends of Drouin’s Trees can be obtained via:

Email: friendsofdrouinstrees@gmail.com

Website: drouinstrees.blogspot.com.au

Facebook: Drouin’s Trees

  • On 23 October David Berry gave a presentation to the Rotary Club of Nunawading on the impacts of the proposed North East Link on the City of Whitehorse.
  • The Victorian Electoral Commission recently undertook an electoral representation review of Whitehorse City Council. The review included significant community consultation and the tree society provided a response in August. 

The final report of the review and recommended structure can be sourced at https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/reviews/Whitehorserr.html

Whitehorse Council has accepted the recommendations that include:

  • Increasing the numbers of councillors from ten to eleven
    • Central, Riversdale, Morack and Springfield Wards to consist of two Councillors  o Elgar Ward will be represented by three Councillors o Relatively minor ward boundary changes

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Only a few copies of the history book remain. Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. An extra charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times

The tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.

Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details

Website:         http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.

Email:             Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com 

Postal address:         PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

  COMMITTEE
President                  David Berry.              9890 7915 or 0413 457 184
Secretary                Anne Payne9878 1152
Treasurer               Brad Baker 
Membership SecretaryDianne Tribe 
Committee Member  Ann Clayton                               
BLACKBURN & DISTRICT TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY Inc.  Aims to: •  Promote and improve the natural  environment      in the City of Whitehorse Promote an understanding of indigenous plants and the natural environment Disseminate information to members

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131.

Inc. no. A15207B

July 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to our new Tree Society committee members

The society has gained the services of two new committee members Dianne Tribe and Brad Baker – both Life Members of the society.

Dianne has taken on the role of Membership Secretary and Brad is our new Treasurer.

As stated in our February newsletter long-term committee member and Treasurer Mary Crouch has moved out of Whitehorse and will end her committee responsibilities soon. Mary’s contribution to the tree society committee has been crucial over the past 12 years as minute secretary and treasurer.

 A Celebration of Les Smith’s Involvement in the Tree Society and the Society’s 60th Anniversary

 A joint celebration of Les Smith’s contribution to the natural landscape in Whitehorse and the society’s 60th anniversary has been scheduled for Sunday 10 November 2019 at the Blackburn Triangle on the corner of Blackburn and Canterbury Roads.

Committee members are liaising with council on the details, but the event will probably be held in the afternoon and will include a commemorative planting in the Triangle.

Once the planning has been finalized tree society members and Friends will be sent formal invitations so at this stage please put the event and date in your diary.

Success!

12-Month Extension of Interim SLO9 Tree Controls Achieved with Permanent Citywide Controls to Follow by 30 June 2020

As you will recall, in December 2018, the Victorian Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne MP applied a 6-month extension (until 30 June 2019) for council’s temporary citywide tree controls (via Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9).

During the intervening period Council has prepared and presented a case to the Minister for making the SLO9 tree controls permanent.

With the 30 June deadline fast approaching an urgent email was sent to all Members and Friends of the society to contact the Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne, MP, and local MPs and advocate for permanent SLO9 tree control provisions throughout Whitehorse.

And our membership has responded exceptionally well, along with other community groups and individuals, such that a further 12-month extension of the interim tree controls has been granted. The extension to the interim controls via Amendment C223 was gazetted and came into effect before the lapse date of 30 June

This will enable Council to prepare and exhibit a planning scheme amendment to convert the interim Significant Landscape Overlay Schedule 9 (SLO9) into permanent citywide tree controls which will be known as Amendment C219.

Presentation to Whitehorse Council on the Draft 2019-20 Budget by the Tree Society

Tree society President David Berry made the following draft Budget presentation at the 11 June Whitehorse Council meeting. A comprehensive written submission was forwarded to council in May on this issue and the submission can be sourced here.

‘Thank you for the opportunity to make a presentation on the 2019-20 Budget.

Firstly, congratulations on a number of Budget items including:

  • $500,000 for the implementation of the Municipal Tree Study including the introduction of city-wide permanent Significant Landscape Overlay provisions.
  • $60,000 for the Significant Tree Assistance Fund
  • $1.13M for strategic land acquisition

 However, the society is critical of the draft Budget in a number of areas:

  1. The long-term funding freeze for the Whitehorse Street Tree Program
  2. The need for Council to more vigorously manage its Public Open Space Reserve Fund
  3. No specific funding for the implementation of Council’s Urban Forest Strategy
  4. The ParksWide 2019-20 Budget allocation.
  1. The Whitehorse Street Tree Program

Funding for the program has stagnated for over fifteen years.

Many residential streets have less than half the desired number of street trees.

Street tree program expenditure from 2003-4 to 2018-19 was ~ $4.2M. or $300,000 per year.

This $300,000 figure remains unchanged in this Budget.

In the same period Council spent around $4.5M on the Box Hill Gardens alone and over $50M on Box Hill Aqualink.

This funding shortfall needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency.

  1. Whitehorse Council’s Public Open Space Reserve Fund

Council needs to manage this Fund more vigorously and effectively.

There is around $40 million in the Fund and council has allocated $1.13M for strategic land acquisition and ~ $2M for landscaping at the Nunawading Hub in the Budget.

It is good to see funding for landscaping at 21 Wattle Valley Road Mitcham – a residential property that was purchased by council via the Fund in 2012.

But why has it taken 8 years to convert this land into a strategic open space link?

Box Hill is the most neglected area for open space in Whitehorse.

Council needs to purchase the historic Box Hill Brickworks site via this Fund, clean it up and develop the land as a major regional park that encompasses Surrey Dive, Surrey Park and Aqualink Box Hill.

  1. The Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy

This Strategy will guide the city’s tree management in the future.

The urban forest encompasses all trees throughout the municipality irrespective of location or ownership.

 Existing tree canopy cover is 22-26% however 30-40% canopy cover is needed before the full benefits of an urban forest can be achieved.

Council has set a target of at least 30% canopy cover by 2030 but to achieve this Council needs to prioritize the strategy and provide financial resources in the Budget now.

However, there is no line item in the Budget supporting the strategy, the conclusion being that ParksWide, the department managing the project, must find the resources from their existing Budget.

This is not good enough, and the Tree Society calls for more specific funding for this important project.

  1. ‘ParksWide’ Department Funding

ParksWide maintains the city’s parks, gardens and sports fields and has been chronically underfunded for years.

A Table in the Tree Society submission demonstrates that the ParksWide Annual Budget allocation is lagging well behind other departments delivering services to the Whitehorse community.

For example, over the past five years the ParksWide budget has increased by 20.3% or 4% per annum.

By contrast, the budget allocation for Executive Management has increased by 58.5% or nearly 12% per annum for the same period!

Executive Management includes the council costs for the offices of the CEO and General Managers.

This shortfall in budget funds for the city’s parks and open spaces needs to be urgently addressed by Council and ParksWide must at least keep pace with other departments in funding increases into the future.

In conclusion, the tree society asserts that Council enthusiastically supports the funding of ‘big ticket’ items to the detriment of our parks, open spaces and streetscapes.

The big disconnect is that council-sponsored resident surveys emphasize that walking, cycling and enjoying the city’s parks are the most popular outdoor activities enjoyed by the majority of Whitehorse residents.

Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the Budget.

Whilst there are generous funding allocations for sporting pavilions ($11.47M), the Morack Golf Course ($1.7M), The Nunawading Hub ($19.19M) and the Whitehorse Centre ($3.26M), the city’s natural landscape remains in budgetary limbo.’

‘The Age’ Newspaper Article 16 June 2019 – ‘Melbourne councils join forces to fight North East Link (NEL)’

(See also the tree society article in this newsletter regarding the tree society submission to NEL on the NEL Environmental Effects Statement and the negative impacts of NEL in Whitehorse).

It is very encouraging to read that three councils (Banyule, Boroondara and Whitehorse) have joined forces in opposition to the construction of the North East Link within their municipal boundaries.

To quote from the article:

‘Three Melbourne councils have formed a rare alliance to fight the $15.8 billion North East Link project in its current form, saying it poses unacceptable ecological risks.’

The article can be sourced via the following weblink:
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-councils-join-forces-to-fight-north-east-link-20190615-p51y28.html?btis

The Tree Society urges our Members to speak up in opposition to the NEL project.

It will not only cause severe environmental damage in our municipality but will also result in traffic chaos by transferring the existing traffic issues from Rosanna and Bulleen to Whitehorse.

Notify the NEL Authority about your opposition to the project (and you can use some of the information provided in the next article on NEL if you wish):

If you want to escalate your feedback to a complaint, you can lodge your comments by the following means:

North East Link Project Environmental Effects Statement – Submission by the Tree Society

The Tree Society made a detailed submission on the North East Link (NEL) Environmental Effects Statement (EES) in June and has accepted an invitation to make a presentation at the Planning Panels Victoria hearing scheduled from July through to September this year.

The full submission is available for perusal on this website

There were over 850 submissions on the NEL Project EES!

The NEL Project Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearing will be held from July to September at the Veneto Club, Bulleen Road Bulleen.

David Berry from the Tree Society will be making a presentation at the hearing on Wednesday 4 September from 2:40 pm for 30 minutes.

A short summary of the Tree society Response to the NEL Project EES

 The society considers the NEL project to be one of the most important and destructive issues facing the Whitehorse community and urban environment and will do little to alleviate motor traffic issues in Whitehorse – indeed it has the potential to make them far worse.

The construction of the North East Link and associated works on the Eastern Freeway will negatively impact all linear parks, open spaces, waterways and shared use paths abutting the freeway. Increasing freeway width will require the destruction of adjacent parklands and open space on both sides of the freeway from Bulleen Road through Mont Albert North, Box Hill North, Blackburn North, Nunawading and Mitcham.

Tens of thousands of trees and shrubs in the freeway reserve will be destroyed to make way for bitumen surfaces.

Gridlock will be the ultimate effect on the major north-south roads in Whitehorse. These roads are all currently at or near ‘overcapacity’ at peak periods. Major road-widening will be needed to cope with the projected explosion in traffic volumes on Elgar Road, Station Street, Middleborough Road, Surrey/Blackburn Road and Springvale Road.

A summary of the environmental destruction as detailed in the EES:

  • 52 hectares of indigenous vegetation will be destroyed including: 104 large trees within patches of native vegetation, 190 scattered native trees (75 large trees and 115 small trees), an undocumented number (probably in the tens of thousands) of indigenous shrubs, native grasses and ground-storey plants and 32 large scattered lost due to groundwater drawdown
  • 15,800 planted trees will be removed to construct the North East Link and an additional 10,100 trees will ’potentially’ be affected (which is ‘project speak’ for probable removal). Most of these trees are young, mature trees only 20 years old
  • The project requires the permanent acquisition of 182,300 square metres of open space and recreational areas across the municipalities of Banyule, Manningham, Boroondara, Yarra and Whitehorse. For the Eastern Freeway section these parklands are located mainly as linear parks on the perimeter of the existing freeway.
  • Due to the massive widening of the freeway in Whitehorse, there will be little open space remaining and thus no opportunity for replacement plantings between existing residences and the freeway
  • The Bolin Bolin Billabong in Bulleen, an important Koorie ceremonial meeting and camping place, may lose half a metre of its water depth as a result of the freeway construction. This would drain the billabong almost entirely and destroy its ecological and cultural significance
  • One of Melbourne’s most significant trees, the large, 300-year old River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) on Bridge Street in Bulleen will need to be cut down to construct the Manningham Road interchange. The tree recently won the 2019 Victorian ‘Tree of the Year’ award sponsored by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). It needs to be saved at all costs
  • The project has ‘the potential to impact’ 14 Aboriginal cultural heritage places from the M80 Ring Road, adjacent to Bulleen Road and along the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen Road to Springvale Road
  • Air quality will diminish due to higher traffic volumes along the Eastern Freeway
  • A number of public open spaces used for active or passive recreation will be required for full or partial temporary occupation including the Eastern Freeway Linear Reserve, Koonung Creek Linear Park, Koonung Creek Reserve and Koonung Reserve
  • There will be seven large construction compounds between Bulleen Road and the Eastern Freeway that will collectively take up over 17 hectares of public open space, parks and sporting reserves
  • Three kilometres of water flowing through two separate creeks, the Koonung Creek (1.6 km) and Banyule Creek (1.4 km), would be diverted and turned into drains
  • The NEL project will require the compulsory acquisition of 36 residential properties across the North East Link corridor. These properties would be located in the suburbs of Macleod, Yallambie, Greensborough, Watsonia and Bulleen
  • There will be permanent land acquisition or temporary occupation of properties affecting 102 businesses
  • NEL construction works will negatively impact the road and traffic network for a period of seven years
  • Once the North East Link is operational it is predicted that traffic volume increases will occur on the arterial roads south of the Eastern Freeway (especially Elgar, Surrey/Blackburn, Middleborough and Springvale Roads)
  • Over-dimensional vehicles and vehicles carrying placarded loads will be prohibited from entering the NEL tunnels at Bulleen. This begs the question as to how these trucks will travel between the north east and east/south east of Melbourne once the NEL is operational. Presumably it will be via the existing major arterial roads. Wasn’t one of the major justifications for the construction of the North East Link to remove large trucks from clogging up our suburban arterial roads?

Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre (BH MAC)

The society made a comprehensive ‘Have Your Say’ survey submission as part of the community consultation process for the review of the Box Hill MAC. The submission isbe  available here.

A number of council-initiated Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) meetings have been held this year to review the Vision of the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre (BH MAC).

The tree society didn’t get a guernsey on the SRG but Geoff White from the Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group (CROWAG) is a member and has been providing regular reports to CROWAG meetings.

The most up-to-date news is that the consultants have developed a detailed Analysis and Options Report that has been submitted to Council.

At the 27 May council meeting it was resolved to release the BH MAC Analysis and Options Report for consultation with the community. The report is available online at the Whitehorse Council Agendas and Minutes webpage. Individual chapters of the Analysis and Options Report are also available for downloading:

The upcoming community consultation is the final part of Phase 1 of the project. The next phases will seek to update the existing Structure Plan and prepare an urban design framework. There will be further consultation after these documents have been delivered to Council.

Current Planning Issues

The society has made submissions in response to a large number of planning applications that would require substantial tree and vegetation loss/damage or include landscape planting plans that are deficient.

A synopsis of the current planning issues follows:

  • 1-3 Naughton Grove Blackburn– Planning Consultation Forum 19 March. Council subsequently refused the application. The issue remains re the large tree that was severely lopped on the street frontage at the NW property boundary
  • 203 Canterbury Road Blackburn– VCAT Hearing 27-29 March. TS, SLOG and BVRG made presentations along with council. VCAT subsequently ordered in favour of the applicant
  • 14 Dickens Street Blackburn– Planning Consultation Forum in March. Officer’s report to council next week. Report publicly available on Wednesday evening 10 July.
  • 11 Gissing Street Blackburn South– Planning Consultation Forum 2 April. Permit granted with amendment to reduce impingement of works on the large tree in the front garden
  • 124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn – Community planning meeting (Mike Taafe, BVRG) on 15 July, VCAT Compulsory Conference 19 August and VCAT Hearing 8-10 October. TS has lodged SOGs and will present at VCAT opposing the development due to the associated massive tree and vegetation loss

NB: There is a clash with the VCAT hearing for the 42-48 Glenburnie Road Mitcham development.

  • Morton Park car park upgrade – Council has responded to TS’s concerns about the works impinging on tree TPZs. Council has modified works to limit tree root impacts.
  • 10 Eustace Street Blackburn– VCAT hearing 10 May with WCC, BVRG, BDTPS and local residents presenting to oppose the ‘Big Shed’ development and loss of trees.

No VCAT finding published as yet.

  • 42-48 Glenburnie Road Mitcham – VCAT hearing scheduled for 7-11 October 2019. TS has submitted SOGS (December 2018) and will make a presentation opposing the development due to the associated massive tree and vegetation loss

NB: There is a clash with the VCAT hearing for the 124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn development.

  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – TS submission (18 April) objecting to the construction of four double-storey townhouses with the virtual moonscaping of the site. Council subsequently refused the application.
  • 25 Holland Rd. Blackburn South –the applicant is seeking a review of the development permit conditions at VCAT. The hearing is scheduled for 23-24 September 2019. TS has lodged SOGs and will present at VCAT opposing the development due to insufficient open space for canopy tree replacement.
  • 199 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – Plans still with council. Site meeting (14 May) with Di Tribe and Ray Zhao and meeting (17 May) with council planner Patrick Sutton and Ray re fate of indigenous trees. The trees will be retained.
  • 245-247 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – Officers’ report to council this week. TS concern is that there is insufficient space for replacement canopy trees as required in the WPS. Issues with building bulk and parking also. Report publicly available on Wednesday evening 10 July
  • 43 Laburnum Street Blackburn – TS submission to WCC opposing tree removals with development proposal
  • 214 Canterbury Road – TS submission to WCC opposing the proposed development with tree loss and tree root damage
  • 201 Canterbury Road Blackburn – TS submission re medical centre development forwarded to WCC

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund (BDEPF)

The Fund, sponsored by the tree society, supports conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse.

Committee meetings have been held in February, April and July this year.

Ex-tree society committee member Mary Crouch has resigned from the BDEPF committee. As it is a requirement for two tree society committee members to be on the Fund committee, David Berry will remain as the permanent tree society representative with the second position to be rotated between Anne Payne, Brad Baker and/or Dianne Tribe depending on availability.

Donations are regularly made in support of the environmental education programs for primary school children at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary and Yarran Dheran.

In addition, a number of local groups will be approached this year and offered small environment grants for on-ground environmental works.

Contact David Berry for further details.

Donations can be made by:

  • Completing and sending a cheque to the fund at the following address:

BDEPF, PO Box 210, Blackburn, VIC 3130

The fund’s web-site address is http://blackburnenviro.wordpress.com/

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com

Webhttp://www.crowag.com

Since March 2019, CROWAG, of which the Tree Society is a foundation group member has been busy:

  • Guest speaker, Ian Hundley, a sustainable transport and planning campaigner, gave an interesting and lively talk on a number of important issues at the group’s May meeting. His topics included highlighting the shortcomings of Melbourne’s public transport network, the scourge that is the North East Link, the planning shortfalls with the Box Hill MAC and planning issues in the municipality of Boroondara where he resides
  • The new local MP for Box Hill, Paul Hamer, has accepted an invitation to speak at the August CROWAG meeting
  • CROWAG reps have had a number of meetings with senior Whitehorse Council staff and Councillors on a range of planning issues
  • Geoff White has been active member as the CROWAG representative on the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre Stakeholder Reference Group which is currently reviewing the Vision for the Box Hill MAC
  • Letters have been sent to the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) seeking their support to lobby the state government to set more substantial fines for the illegal removal of trees on private property and to highlight the unintended consequences of the VicSmart fast-tracking planning permit process for the removal of single trees from private properties
  • Advocacy for the extension of the interim SLO9 tree controls for Whitehorse and active support for the controls to become permanent via amendments to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme
  • The draft position paper on Green Notices for Building Sites has been finalized as well as a mock-up Green Notice and a letter to the Mayor Cr Bill Bennett seeking further discussion, feedback and support. The plan is for the Green Notices to be located on the front boundaries of development sites during the planning and building stages of the development. The notices are designed to provide useful information to the public on trees and vegetation to be retained and removed and details of replacement planting of trees and other vegetation once completed.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Only a few copies of the history book remain. Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. An extra charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times

The tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.

Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

COMMITTEE

President                                                    David Berry.              9890 7915 or 0413 457 184

Secretary                                                     Anne Payne                              9878 1152

Treasurer                                                    Brad Baker

Membership Secretary                             Dianne Tribe

Committee Member                                   Ann Clayton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5,

Nunawading, 3131.

Inc. no. A15207B

March 2019 Newsletter

Eulogy for Les Smith OAM

Les Smith, eminent Whitehorse environmentalist and patriarch of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society died on 16 December 2018.

Les was involved in the conservation movement for over 60 years, initially in England in the late 1940’s and continuing when he moved to Australia in the 1950’s.

He joined the Tree Society in the early 1960s and served with distinction on the executive committee in many roles over the years including committee member, president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, membership secretary and newsletter editor.

Les was actively involved in the campaign to save the Little Desert from being subdivided for farming in the late1960s. This campaign was instrumental in launching a wave of environmental campaigns throughout Victoria and also led to the formation of what is now Environment Victoria, an organization to which Les has contributed greatly since its inception.

He was Nunawading Citizen of the Year in the 1975.

Until recent times Les remained active as a volunteer, member or executive committee member of a number of organizations allied to the preservation and enhancement of our natural environment.

Apart from the tree society Les was actively involved with:

  • Environment Victoria
  • Bungalook Nursery (Whitehorse Indigenous Plant Project)
  • Antonio Park, Yarran Dheran and Wandinong bushland park advisory committees in Whitehorse
  • Urimbirra Co-operative that owns 1,000 ha of close to virgin bush adjacent to what is now the little Desert National Park. The property is covered by a Conservation Covenant administered by the Trust for Nature and only removable by Act of Parliament
  • Friends of the Little Desert and
  • The Mullum-Mullum Festival (Les was the 2011 festival Patron).

Les, affectionately dubbed the ‘Godfather’ of environmental advocacy in the City of Whitehorse and beyond, was honored with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his community service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2017. He was officially presented with his award by the Governor of Victoria, The Honourable Linda Dessau in October 2017 at a ceremony at Government House.

His legacy will live on in the natural world he fought so hard, and with such good grace, to preserve and enhance. Moreover Les inspired many people to embrace his environmental philosophy and deeds.

Our condolences and prayers go out to Helen and the Smith family on this sad occasion.

Vale Les Smith OAM.

A Celebration of Les Smith’s Involvement in the Tree Society and the Society’s 60th Birthday

Later in 2019 the tree society committee will be organizing a special activity to commemorate the achievements of Les Smith in the tree society along with a celebration of the society’s 60th anniversary. Watch this Space for further details.

An Important Message from the Committee of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.

Dear Members and Friends of the Tree Society

In this, our 60th year, the committee has been reduced to four members with the passing of Les Smith OAM in December last year.

Les was the society’s newsletter editor and membership secretary in recent years and his loss will be keenly felt by all who cherish the natural landscape in Whitehorse and beyond.

Furthermore, executive committee member Mary Crouch has recently moved out of Whitehorse and, as a consequence, will be taking a much less active role in the tree society into the future.

Thankfully Mary has agreed to remain on the committee until the end of the 2018-19 financial year. Mary’s contribution to the tree society committee has been crucial over the past 12 years and she has filled the roles of minute secretary and latterly treasurer with great aplomb.

The remaining committee members, Ann Clayton, Anne Payne and David Berry have vowed to continue to provide a voice for the trees and landscape in Whitehorse and beyond.

BUT we need help!

The tree society cannot function with three members on the executive so we are putting out a call for members and friends to seriously consider becoming a committee member of the society.

We specifically require a new treasurer to replace Mary, a membership secretary and a newsletter editor (the society newsletter is published and distributed three times each year).

The society convenes six committee meetings, each of two hours duration, per year in February, March, May, July, September and November with the AGM held before the November meeting.

Please consider joining the committee and playing a role in advocating for our natural environment.

I can be contacted via email (bdtpsociety@gmail.com) or mobile 0413 457 184 to discuss further.

We will need to increase our committee membership to at least five members before the AGM in November this year.

Thanks, in anticipation.

David Berry, Ann Clayton, Mary Crouch and Anne Payne

Committee

Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.

Vale David Moss

The tree society committee was saddened to hear the news that long-time supporter, David Moss, had passed away on the 4th February, aged 92 years.

David was an original member of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society and retained his interest in the Society throughout his life.

David was also a member of the Whitehorse Film Society and in its early days he was involved with the filming and took part in the film:

Did Auguste Schwerkolt dig the Blackburn Lake One Sunday Morning?’

He also starred in it.

Alas the film was lost some years again, much to David’s regret.

David represented the tree society when a community group was formed in 1965, to rally support to Save Blackburn Lake. He later became a committee member of Blackburn Lake Sanctuary committee of management in 1972 and remained on the committee as an active member holding various positions until 1989.

David has been a part of the community in Blackburn for a long time and been on many committees in working to improve our environment and help make Blackburn such a beaut place to live. For many years he led walking groups in many walks around Melbourne.

David made hundreds of friends with his generous nature and he will be sadly missed.

Whitehorse Tree Controls via Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9 (SLO9)

The Victorian Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne MP has applied a 6-month extension for council’s temporary citywide tree controls after concerted lobbying by council, community groups, tree society members and others.

Well done all!

This extension, until 30 June 2019, will allow Whitehorse council to prepare and present a strong case for making the tree controls (via Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9) permanent.

The tree society committee requests that all members and friends keep up the lobbying with their ward councillors to let them know how important the SLO9 is for Whitehorse.

Council needs to be more active in managing the Public Open Space Reserve Fund

Council forecasts an amount in excess of $40M in the Public Open Space Reserve Fund for the 2018-19 Budget year (with $64M forecast for 2021-22).

A significant surge in fund deposits is anticipated in the future due to the increased developer contributions resulting from the escalating number of medium and high-density infill developments within Whitehorse (including the massive high-rise building expansion in the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre).

This amount of money in the Public Open Space Reserve fund is large and growing exponentially yet council allocates a mere fraction, in the order of $1-1.5M per year, each year for strategic land purchases for open space and parks.

The society advocates that council is sluggish in allocating funds to purchase much-needed strategic parcels of land to create open spaces and parklands for the residents of Whitehorse.

The most neglected areas for open space in Whitehorse are in the Box Hill area.

Some suggestions:

  • Convert the council-owned Box Hill Bowling Club site into a small park or large plaza to benefit Box Hill’s high-rise dwellers
  • Purchase the historic Box Hill Brickworks site, clean it up and develop the land as a municipal park and recreation centre by amalgamating the park with Surrey Dive, Surrey Park and Aqualink Box Hill
  • Reduce ground-level open air car parks and instead turn the land over to parks and open spaces. A relevant case study is Cato Park in Prahran. The City of Stonnington has committed $60M for the conversion of a 9,000 square metre car park into an open-air plaza and urban garden complete with two levels of underground parking. The $60M cost will be made up from a $37M loan, $10.5M in savings and $15M from council’s open space reserve fund.

Box Hill is crying out for this sort of people-friendly initiative.

A proportion of the Fund money can also be used to improve existing parks, for example:

  • Provide additional funding for the purchase, planting and maintenance of more trees and lower storey vegetation in the city’s parks and open spaces
  • Work with Melbourne Water to create more wetland habitat areas in city parks with waterways
  • Develop and implement strategies to minimize park use conflicts in the city’s parks e.g.:
    • Build enclosed leash-free dog parks in parks to separate free-roaming dogs and other park users
    • Utilize alternative porous car park and entry road hard surfacing for outdoor sporting facilities e.g. Morton Park in Blackburn
    • Construct separate walking and cycling paths through linear parks that currently contain major bike trails e.g. the Koonung Creek and Gardiners Creek Trails.

Call for a greater budgetary allocation for the Whitehorse Street Tree Program

At the recent Whitehorse Council Budget Briefing session in mid-February, the issue of council’s street tree program was raised by society president, David Berry.

The society is alarmed that many of our local streets are relatively devoid of street trees, in fact some streets have barely half the desired number of at least one reasonably sized tree on each nature-strip.

In addition, many of the street trees planted by council are barely trees at all e.g. Acacia stricta which is a short-lived shrubby wattle.

The society is calling for an increase in funding for council’s street tree program which has stagnated over the past 12 or more years as illustrated in the accompanying table:

Whitehorse Budgeted Funds for Street Tree Planting Program (source Whitehorse Budgets 2003-2019)

Year Amount Comments
2003-04 $235,000
2004-05 $200,000 Decrease $35,000
2005-06 No Figures found
2006-07 $300,000 Increase $100,000
2007-08 $300,000 No Change
2008-09 $310,000 Increase $10,000
2009-10 $320,000 increase $10,000
2010-11 $300,000 Decrease  $20,000
2011-12 $340,000 Increase $40,000
2012-13 $350,000 Increase $10,000
2013-14 $300,000 Decrease $50,000
2014-15 $300,000 No Change
2015-16 $300,000 No Change
2016-17 No Figures found
2017-18 $300,000 No Change
2018-19 $300,000 No Change

The total street tree planting expenditure for the 14 years was ~ $4.2M. (or $300,000 per year).

By way of comparison Whitehorse City Council spent the following amounts of money on the following major projects from 2003 to 2019 (excluding years 2005-06 and 2016-17):

Over $2M on the Morack Golf Club

Over $3M on car parks

Around $4.5M on the Box Hill Gardens and over $50M on Box Hill Aqualink.

The environmental value of trees generally, and street trees in particular, has been extensively studied. The Low Carbon Living CRC Guide to Urban Cooling Strategies (July 2017) contains information about the cooling effects of urban vegetation, street trees, natural turfs, ground cover and parks. Refer to the document at:

www.lowcarbonlivingcrc.com.au/sites/all/files/publications_file_attachments/rp2024_guide_to_urban_cooling_strategies_2017_web.pdf

Major Issues & Activities

  • Morton Park Car Park Upgrade

In November 2018 the tree society made a submission to council regarding the proposed Morton Park car park upgrade. Council’s final plan was circulated in late February and, whilst an improvement on the original draft plan, still fell short of society and community expectations.

The tree society responded to council on the 3rd March and re-stated that there will be negative impacts on the mature canopy trees (many of which are indigenous) that border the proposed hard surfacing of the road and car park areas in Morton Park.

It appears from the final concept plan that at least 10 and up to 20 existing trees will have their tree protection zones (TPZs) substantially affected by the hard surfacing.

A number of questions were raised in the society’s response:

  • Has an arborist been involved in providing council with arboricultural advice on this proposal?
  • Has council calculated the TPZ incursion for each of the trees bordering the proposed works?
  • Has council developed a tree protection plan for these trees?

The society believes that the proposed works, as illustrated in the final concept plan, will contravene the relevant Australian Standard AS 4970 – 2009 ‘Protection of trees on development sites’.

Whitehorse Council planners conscientiously apply AS4970-2009 to residential development proposals to ensure that tree protection zones are indeed protected.

The tree society advocates that council apply the same rigour to any proposed development works on council property that will impact existing trees.

To do otherwise will engender a community view that a double-standard applies with council on issues associated with trees – not a good look at all!

The tree society did provide a solution to this issue in the submission forwarded to council in mid-November 2018:

  • The asphalt (or similar non-porous) sealing of existing gravel surfaces in and around established trees cannot be supported. From the Draft Concept Plan it appears that the asphalting 

will seriously compromise the Tree Protection Zones (TPZs) for 7-10 of the retained trees (i.e. TPZ impingement of greater than 10%). This incursion will negatively impact the trees’ health, vigour and longevity

  • Council must explore porous surfacing alternatives to asphalting and re-surface with these innovative paving solutions following ‘de-compaction’ of the existing gravel surfaces and car park areas …’ 

The tree society committee is seeking an urgent meeting with council on this issue.

  • Application for Community Group Membership of the North East Link Project Community Liaison Group by the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.

On the 19th February 2019 the tree society committee formally applied for membership of the North East Link Community Liaison Group (NEL CLG).

As yet we haven’t been informed as to the outcome of our application.

The tree society considers this project to be one of the most important and divisive issues facing the Whitehorse urban environment and will do little to alleviate motor traffic issues in Whitehorse – in fact it has the potential to make them much worse.

The tree society will act as a strong advocate for the natural landscape and public amenity of Whitehorse if allowed to participate in the NEL CLG.

We will perform exactly the same task if our application is unsuccessful.

The society is highly critical of the construction and expansion of Melbourne’s archaic freeway system at the expense of any meaningful attempts to improve the city’s public transport system in Whitehorse specifically and metropolitan Melbourne more broadly. This improvement is necessary in the short term given that the proposed radial train network won’t come on stream until 2050 and Melbourne Metro completion date is beyond 2025.

Examples of short-term ‘doable’ initiatives include the expansion of the existing metropolitan radial bus network in terms of frequency, flexibility and efficiency and investigation of the ‘trackless’ tram between major commercial/residential/retail precincts e.g. Box Hill to Doncaster Shoppingtown.

The society has a general interest in the natural landscape from Greensborough to Bulleen and more specifically for the construction works on the Eastern Freeway and associated north-south roads (including Elgar, Station Street, Middleborough, Surrey-Blackburn and Springvale Roads). The society is vitally interested in the mitigation of construction impacts on the natural landscape of these areas and the enhancement of parklands and open spaces adjoining the Eastern Freeway and associated major north-south feeder roads.

  • Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre

The first meeting of the Whitehorse council-inspired Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) to review the Vision of the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre (BH MAC) was held on 5 March 2019.

The tree society applied but was not included on the SRG even though we made detailed submissions and a 45-minute presentation to the Planning Panels Victoria hearing on Amendment C175 to the Box Hill MAC in July 2017.

However, Geoff White from the Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group (CROWAG) is on the SRG and, as the society is a group member of CROWAG, the society has some representation on the SRG.

The outstanding issues, as listed below, that the tree society have with the development of the Box Hill MAC were raised at the Planning Panels Victoria hearing in 2017.

Overall council needs to show leadership and actively lobby/work with the state government and relevant government agencies as well as the private sector to achieve a people-friendly outcome otherwise the Box Hill MAC will become an urban slum.

Council also needs to develop a Master Plan and a costed action plan over 10-15 years to create a Box Hill MAC that is human-centred, aesthetically pleasing and attractive for people to live, visit, recreate, work and enjoy.

As Danish architect Jan Gehl, the world-renowned urban design expert, has stated ‘Plan urban spaces for pedestrians and cyclists and the rest will follow automatically.’

Because the large number of high-rise buildings is a fait accompli council needs to urgently address the quality-of-life issues that face the residents, workers, commuters and visitors to Box Hill MAC into the future.

These include:

– Active transport spaces including pavements must be wide, landscaped with trees and shrubs, contain street furniture, interface with cafes, retail outlets and other gathering places, be open to natural light and vistas with easy, stress-free connectivity with parks, open spaces, the retail/commercial/residential precincts, public transport interchanges, schools, the hospital, TAFE and the rest of Box Hill

– Barriers to low stress active transport movements must be eliminated even if to the detriment of motor traffic movement thru the MAC

– Council must utilise funding from council’s burgeoning open space reserve fund (currently valued at over $50M) to facilitate the purchase of open space in Box Hill, an area lacking in quality, accessible open space now let alone when urgently needed as the BH population soars. The best example is the Brickworks site near Surrey Park. The fund can also be used to improve existing open space e.g. convert the old Box Hill bowling club site into a plaza, improve links between parks and opens spaces, purchase strategic blocks to create plazas and/or facilitate linkages etc.

– Parks and open spaces can be created in unusual places e.g. roof over the rail line east of Station Street and create a park/plaza/easy link across the rail line; put a roof top garden over the Box Hill railway station west of the bus station; convert Carrington and Rutland Roads into pedestrian malls; underground ALL car parking in the MAC and convert the existing ground level car parks into open spaces

– Provide safe, broad linkages across barriers e.g. overpasses and pedestrian tunnels to connect both sides of Whitehorse Road, Elgar Road, Station Street, the railway line etc.

Current Planning Issues

Over the last few months there has been a large number of planning applications opposed by the society due to tree and vegetation loss/damage or applications that contain aspirational planting plans that have little chance of being realised.

The current planning issues are listed below are at various stages of resolution including a number that will be going to VCAT this year including 10 Eustace Street, 203 Canterbury Road and 42-48 Glenburnie Road. Members requiring more information on individual cases can email the society committee on bdtpsociety@gmail.com

The planning issues include:

25 Holland Road Blackburn South                             42-48 Glenburnie Road Mitcham,

199 Canterbury Road Blackburn                                203 Canterbury Road Blackburn

245-247 Canterbury Road Blackburn                        1-3 Naughton Grove Blackburn

124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn                          10 Eustace Street Blackburn Blackburn

11 Gissing Street Blackburn South                            2 Sergeant Street Blackburn

14 Dickens Street Blackburn                                      4 Loddon Street Box Hill

124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn

Plantings in Whitehorse Parklands

  • Healesville Freeway Reserve in Forest Hill

In December 2018, contractors planted over 18,000 indigenous plants in a number of newly-mulched large beds from Davy Reserve to the east near the community gardens and council nursery. One of the beds was planted out by community volunteers at the same time and the contractor will be watering the plants through the summer/autumn period. These plants are the major component of an offset planting program, brokered by the tree society, to replace tree and shrub canopy resulting from the loss of so much vegetation with the Blackburn and Heatherdale level crossing removals.

  • Junction Road/Nunawading Parklands in Nunawading

Preliminary work on the spraying, ripping and mulching of two large beds in the parklands has been completed. Contractors have planted upwards of 3,000 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses in the beds and have been watering them over the summer months. These plants also form part of the offset planting program, brokered by the

tree society, to replace the loss of trees and vegetation with the local level crossing removals. 

  • Masons Road Reserve

The pond plantings are looking good even though we’ve had so little rain so far in 2019. In addition, the Melbourne Water plantings on the banks of the retarding basin are starting to impact positively on the local landscape. More activities will be held in the reserve this year.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund

The Fund, sponsored by the tree society, supports conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse.

Donations are regularly made in support of the environmental education programs for primary school children at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary and Yarran Dheran.

In addition, a number of local groups will be approached this year and offered small environment grants for on-ground environmental works.

Contact David Berry for further details.

Donations can be made by:

  • Completing and sending a cheque to the fund at the following address:

BDEPF, PO Box 210, Blackburn, VIC 3130

The fund’s web-site address is http://blackburnenviro.wordpress.com/

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com

Webhttp://www.crowag.com

In mid-February this important community lobby group (of which the tree society is a member) met with senior Whitehorse Council planning staff to discuss and clarify the many of the planning issues currently facing the community.

In addition, since December 2018, CROWAG has been busy advocating on many issues including:

  • The extension of the temporary city-wide tree controls (via Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9 or SLO9) until a strong case can be made for the controls becoming permanent AND being strengthened to ‘catch-up’ with the tighter controls enjoyed in other SLO areas in Whitehorse (e.g. SLO1 and SLO2)
  • Illegal tree removal. In December 2018 CROWAG sent a letter to the Victorian Minister for Planning protesting the paltry fines mandated by the state government for the illegal removal of trees on private property in Victoria. in contrast, NSW has had meaningful tree protections applied since 1979. The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 provides that the maximum penalty for illegal tree removal or destruction in breach of the Act is a fine of $1.1 million and a further fine of $110,000 for each day that the offence persists. In addition to imposing a fine, the NSW Act permits the court to order a person convicted of illegal tree removal/destruction to plant and maintain new trees to maturity, and to provide a financial security for the performance of any obligation of this kind.
  • CROWAG member Ross Gillespie (Glenburnie Road Residents Association) has development a draft position paper on the development and institution of council-sanctioned Green Notices for Building Sites. These notices would be placed on the front boundaries of development sites to provide useful information for the public on trees and vegetation to be retained and removed and details of a replacement planting plan to replace any lost green canopy as per the Whitehorse Planning Scheme. This initiative is fully supported by the tree society.
  • CROWAG has also written to the Victorian Planning Minister detailing the loopholes and shortfalls in the recently introduced VicSmart planning policy that fast-tracks the permit process for the removal of single trees on private property, seemingly without the required checks and balances.

How to Lose Water, Waste Money and Wreck the Environment

Policy doesn’t hold water
Victoria props up a logging industry even though it costs us in water supply.
http://www.theage.com.au/business/the-economy/how-to-lose-water-waste-money-and-wreck-the-environment-20190305-p511ti.html?btis

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Only a few copies of the history book remain. Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. An extra charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times

The tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.

Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

Tree Society Website and Contact Details

Website:                     http://www.bdtps.wordpress.com for information on tree society activities.

Email:                         Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com

Postal address:         PO Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

COMMITTEE

President             David Berry                      9890 7915 or 0413 457 184

Secretary             Anne Payne                      9878 1152

Treasurer             Mary Crouch                   9894 3025

Member               Ann Clayton                     9878 6585