Newsletter March 2017

Blackburn & Heatherdale Level Crossing Removals (BLXR & HLXR)

The railway cutting works have been completed and Blackburn and Heatherdale Roads are open to traffic again after a month-long closure in January and early February this year. However there is still much to do to reverse Blackburn Village looking like a building site with drainage works and landscaping yet to be completed.

Many local Blackburn residents and traders have been left wondering whether it was worth it with promised benefits for the local community yet to be proven in the face of the almost complete destruction of the landscape and local amenity of the area.
The Blackburn railway station remains in its long-time shabby state with a narrow and dangerous subway (that flooded in January – yet again!), third-world standard toilets and no roof over the central ramp leading to the station platforms. It is still unclear whether the access ramps comply with standards for disabled commuters with ‘improved’ entry ramps and lifts the only concessions made by the state government and CPB Contractors.

The good news is that the LXR authority has decided, after much advocacy from the tree society and others, to remove the weed species from the proposed planting list for the Blackburn Station precinct. The species in question were Cordyline australis, Knipofia uvaria, Phormium tenax and Aspidistra elatior. Collectively they represented over 10% of the plants to be planted in the precinct and, if planted, there would be a high risk of their ‘escape’ into the local bushland parks including Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, Blackburn Creeklands and Wandinong Sanctuary.

A fifth ‘dubious’ species, Calamagrostis X acutiflora ‘Overdam’ (Feather Reed Grass), was also removed from the list because species of this genus show high weed potential. The tree society suggested that the LXRA refer to the Whitehorse City Council
publication Indigenous Gardening in Whitehorse for further details on suitable local grasses that would suit as replacements. The tree society argued that the deliberate planting of known weeds on public land under the auspices of the government authority managing the land sends the wrong message to the public about the use of these plants in the landscape.

We also presented scientific evidence for the weed potential for these species via forwarding an excerpt from the CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) for Australian Weed Management – The Introduced Flora of Australia and its Weed Status, 2007, R. P. Randall, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia.

Other tree society comments on the authority’s proposed planting schedules included:

  • Plant indigenous eucalypts and wattles instead of the native eucalypts on the list forthe Blackburn car park and corridor near the library, tennis courts and in Morton Park (northern perimeter).
  • Plant Blackwoods and/or Lightwoods in place of the ‘Little Spotty’ Eucalypts to the north of the Blackburn tennis courts. These acacias are compact and dense and will help screen the ugly, graffiti-covered factory walls on the other side of the railway line. This theme should be continued along the northern perimeter of the two ovals in Morton Park with a mix of indigenous eucalypts and acacias in place of the native species. This battle is ongoing and at this stage it looks like the local Allocasuarina will be planted instead of the dwarf Eucalypts.
  • The planting scheme along the shared use path bordering Glen Ebor residences is boring (2 x Lomandra species throughout!) and would soon look very untidy and rubbish-strewn. The strip needs small shrubs, ground covers, native grasses, flowering tufties (e.g. native daisies) and the odd small tree/large shrub to lift this area. Climbers on the fences or trellises were also recommended here.
  • The society advised against planting native eucalypts (in this case E. Leucoxylon var. megalocarpa ‘Rosea’) along the northern border of the Seventh Day Adventist land. These species don’t complement the indigenous trees within the adjacent conservation areas that contain rare and endangered Valley Heathy Forest. In addition the risk of hybridization with the indigenous eucalypts is a risk not worth taking. Indigenous tree species, predominantly eucalypts must be planted here to enhance the natural amenity of the site and reduce the risk of hybridization.
  • Heatherdale car park and Corridor Planting Schedule – a number of trees (4-6), including indigenous eucalypts will be removed in the western section of Brunswick Road Reserve in Mitcham to make way for the shared use path. An area containing native grasses and Gahnia spp. will also be lost. The Heatherdale LXRA must ‘make good’ this incursion into this council-owned park by sponsoring the planting of suitable indigenous eucalypts and native grasses back into the park near where the losses will occur. The reserve also lends itself to the ‘off-set’ planting of indigenous trees and shrubs to partly compensate for the large tree losses (over 200!) resulting from the LXR and shared use path works zone in Mitcham and Heatherdale.
  • To the immediate west of Cochrane Street in Mitcham – replace the Corymbia maculatas with suitable indigenous eucalypts (e.g. E. cephalocarpa, E. melliodora,
    E. radiata), i.e. similar to trees already removed and plant a copse (15-20) Blackwoods in this area to replace the young Blackwoods removed to construct the shared use path.
  • Heatherdale Station Precinct Planting Schedule – the inclusion of only 8 trees in the station precinct needs to be questioned, particularly as 6 of them could be considered large shrubs (i.e. being of less than 6 metres in height). The local community deserves a softer and more appealing landscape in this area.

Local State politician Shaun Leane and the LXR authority have reiterated their promise to implement an ‘offset’ planting program of indigenous trees and lower storey vegetation within Whitehorse on State-owned land in the Nunawading Parklands, between Junction and Springvale Roads and the Eastern Freeway in Nunawading. At this stage over 20,000 indigenous plants including ~1,300 trees will be planted on this land over the next few years to help compensate for the loss of so many trees and shrubs along the railway corridor between Blackburn and Heatherdale.

The committee urges members to keep up the pressure on the BLXRA, HLXRA and state Labor politicians to mitigate the damage caused by this project.

Click here to read further articles including news about the proposed shared use path through Laburnum and Blackburn, Nunawading Parklands Development update and major works planned for the Masons Road Retarding Basin Reserve


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