Category Archives: Campaigns

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



Newsletter July 2016

Tree Society Submission (20 May 2016) on the Whitehorse Tree Study: Draft Options Report

A summary of the Tree Society’s submission follows:
The consultants commissioned by Whitehorse Council for this Study, Planisphere, deserve the plaudits of the Whitehorse community for developing this intellectually rigorous Options Paper that completes a Gap Analysis, identifies the deficiencies of the existing tree and vegetation safeguards, develops a list of options to address these deficiencies, and ultimately makes a recommendation to extend the Significant Landscape Overlays (SLO) city-wide, an option that the Tree Society endorses.

The Option recommended calls for the extension of the SLO throughout Whitehorse as well as:

  • Amending the Whitehorse Planning Scheme in favour of tree and vegetation preservation, retention and replacement in the face of the many pressures that, up to now, have resulted in the net loss of tree canopy within the city
  • Lobbying the state government to increase the fines for the illegal removal and/or damage to trees in Whitehorse
  • Committing up front and recurrent funding to administer the city-wide extension of the SLO
  • Providing ongoing funding and support for a Tree Education Program
  • Offering incentives for residents and developers to purchase and plant canopy trees
  • Employing planning staff with the necessary expertise to be able to assess the quality of landscape plans that are submitted for review
  • Stipulating the appropriate levels of administration and enforcement of S173 agreements for new subdivisions.

With the recommended ‘Extend the SLO’ Option, the deficiencies in the Whitehorse Planning Scheme have largely been addressed with particular reference to:

  • Providing uniform tree protection across the city
  • Including a definition of, and scientific explanation for, the crucial tree protection zone (TPZ)
  • Describing what constitutes a ‘canopy’ tree and the different sub-types
  • Emphasizing the importance of the planting of replacement trees
  • Recognizing the need to engage qualified and experienced planning staff to review landscape plans
  • Ensuring sufficient space is allowed for canopy tree plantings in development proposals
  • Facilitating the ongoing monitoring of the health and correct maintenance practices for newly planted trees and replacement trees (short, medium, and long-term).

    However the final ‘gap’ as stated on page 24 is a curious addition and requires further explanation i.e.:
    ‘… Weed species and exempting weeds that add value to the Whitehorse character and overall tree canopy cover …’
    Furthermore the Tree Society questions the validity of the statement on page 30 of the document i.e.:
    ‘… It is important to understand that while promoting the increased planting of weed species is not desirable, these species rarely endanger the landscape environmental qualities in urban areas …’ (Bold = Tree Society emphasis). Our experience is very much to the contrary particularly for environmental weeds in proximity to bushland parks and/or those woody weeds whose seeds are dispersed long distances by, for example, birds or the wind.

    In relation to the resource implications for the recommended ‘Extend the SLO’ Option in the Draft Options paper, the Tree Society contends that a financial outlay of $30,000 to amend the Planning Scheme, $16,000 for one-off capital costs and ~$650,000 pa for increases in staffing to administer the expanded SLO is a bargain when compared with other capital-heavy infrastructure works planned or already completed by Whitehorse Council. Indeed these figures represent ‘loose change’ in relation to what will be achieved i.e. the protection and enhancement of the city’s natural assets held in private ownership. As such the cost implications for the ‘Extend the SLO’ Option will be a wise and farsighted investment.

    The city’s natural assets are what define Whitehorse and as such they should be afforded a monetary value and factored into Council’s assets inventory. A great deal of research has resulted in simple and effective tree evaluation methods, including that of a tree’s monetary value. The Tree Society contends that the use of Whitehorse Council’s Amenity Tree Valuation Tool needs to be promoted widely to developers and residents such that they become familiar with what constitutes the real value of our trees in dollar terms. Using this tool the tree values for ‘average’ trees are in the order of thousands of dollars through to 10s of thousands of dollars for good specimens and up to 6-figure values for outstanding tree specimens within the city. Older trees also have enhanced dollar values due to the range of habitats they provide for native fauna (e.g. hollows for nesting birds).

    In conclusion the Tree Society commends the preferred ‘Extend the SLO’ Option recommendation as detailed in the Whitehorse Tree study – Draft Options Report to Whitehorse Council.

Click here for more news including the Blackburn and Heatherdale Level Crossing removals, an open letter to Michael Hassett, the whitehorse Cyclists Inc and VicRoads and a Nunawading Parklands Development update.


Newsletter November 2016

Blackburn Level Crossing Removal (BLXR)

The desecration of the natural landscape in Blackburn by the BLXR Authority continues apace with the companies involved (construction company CPB Contractors and its parent company CIMIC, formerly Leighton Holdings), along with MetRail and the State Government, oblivious and uncaring about the carnage being carried out in the name of ‘progress’.

In addition Whitehorse Council appears powerless to achieve any semblance of compromise on behalf of the local environment and the Blackburn community. Unfortunately the concerted lobbying by the Tree Society, other community groups and individuals, has not achieved any discernible positive outcomes for the trees and vegetation in the BLXR project works zone – apart, that is, from the retention of two small Gleditsias near the Rotunda and a larger shade tree in the Blackburn Library courtyard! The tree and vegetation loss (over 450 trees and counting) will continue to the west in South Parade, probably beyond the existing car park, due primarily to the massive drainage engineering works associated with the level crossing removal. And apparently the provision of even more car parking spaces in South Parade is far more important than the retention of trees.

The historic and valued low bluestone wall along the western section of the car park area is also in line for destruction. In addition the BLXRA’s proposed landscape and re-planting plan for the Blackburn Village precinct, from the brief and sketchy information we’ve been ‘drip-fed’ by the authority, is underwhelming and depressing (for example a number of environmental weed species are listed in the draft plant species list).

Is there any ‘good’ news?

  • The authority has nearly reached the limits of the works’ zone to the west and legally cannot go any further!?
  • Once the project is completed the authority will go away and the community and Council can reclaim Blackburn Village and start the process of local landscape revival and renewal
  • The Tree Society has been instrumental in securing an ‘offset’ planting program ofindigenous 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. The authority is required to provide offset planting to compensate for tree and vegetation loss in the Blackburn and Heatherdale works’ zones; however these offsets have historically been located well away from the works’ site (e.g. somewhere in East Gippsland). Successfully lobbying for replacement planting in Whitehorse is a big win for our community, but of little value to the Blackburn Village. For further information refer to the article on the Nunawading Parklands in this newsletter.
  • Respite from compulsory removal of trees in a few of the private residential gardens by the BLXRA ‘bully-boys’ in Glen Ebor Avenue and other properties adjoining the rail reserve.

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

Click here to read about work at the Heatherdale Level Crossing as well as the proposed shared use path through Laburnum and Blackburn. The newsletter also gives an update on the Nunawading Parklands development and a proposal to construct a childcare centre at 25 Holland Road Blackburn South.

Level Crossing removals: Heatherdale and Blackburn

What can YOU do to help alleviate the destruction of Blackburn’s Trees and Natural Character?

 NOW is the time to send emails to the following people to show that we are very angry and will NOT sit back and accept this devastation within our community.

If EACH ONE of us sends one email, the politicians and the Level Crossing Authority will be forced to acknowledge that we are a force to be reckoned with!

It only needs to be at least one sentence containing one or more of the following key objectives:

  1. Initiate a genuine consultation process with the Blackburn community and Whitehorse council to lessen the impact of the level crossing removal on the natural character and values of Blackburn Village and surrounds
  2. Adopt strategies to limit further tree removals
  3. Develop, with council and community consultation, a meaningful tree and vegetation re-planting program within the Level Crossing Removal project works zone to re-establish the character of the Blackburn Village
  4. Provide fair and timely compensation (in cash or in kind) for the destruction of mature trees on land owned by Whitehorse council and in private ownership due to the level crossing removal
  5. Implement the necessary strategies such that the tree canopy in Whitehorse will not be diminished due to tree and vegetation losses caused by the removal of level crossings in Whitehorse
  6. Re-locate the shared user path to the northern side of the railway corridor from Laburnum to Nunawading to decrease the numbers of trees that will be lost if the path is built on the southern side.

State Government Politicians:

The Blackburn Level Crossing Removal Authority:

Email or telephone 1800 762 667.


  • Email the Whitehorse Leader on this issue. The contact journalist is Paddy Naughtin (email ).
  • Contact ‘The Age’ and/or ‘Herald-Sun’ newspapers via the Letters to the Editor section or through their Urban Affairs/Environment journalists.

Keep updated via Facebook:


April 2016

Report on Tree Society Negotiations with the Heatherdale LXRA Regarding Project Works on Trees and Vegetation (including the BHRRT between Mitcham and Heatherdale)

A number of meetings, including two site meetings, have been held between the Heatherdale LXRA and the tree society.

In addition the Heatherdale LXRA has provided the tree society access to the Arborist’s report and Tree Management Strategy sheets for the 250 trees impacted by the BHRRT (Brunswick Road Reserve to Heatherdale Road) and the Heatherdale LXR.

In summary, from the report and TMS sheets, for the 250 trees assessed, their fates are listed as:
– 134 (54%) to be removed (some already removed)
– 58 (23%) to be retained and

– 57 (23%) to be re-assessed
– 1 tree (#239), an indigenous Eucalypt has a ‘?’ marked as its fate.

On the face of it this represents a huge number of trees to be removed for the works in question and will have a devastating negative impact on the natural landscape values of Mitcham and Heatherdale.

The tree society is most interested in retaining as many indigenous trees (which represent 125 or 50% of the total trees) as possible with the works.
The next order of priority is the native trees (representing 87 or 35%), followed by the exotic species (26 or 10%) and lastly the woody weeds (12 or 5%).

Woody Weeds

Overall the tree society has no problem with the removal of the 12 woody weeds provided their canopy is replaced with plantings of similar-sized indigenous species locally (i.e. within Mitcham). It is interesting to note that 10 of theses woody weeds are designated for re-assessment for possible retention in the report. The tree society advocates for their removal!

Indigenous Trees

Subsequent to our on-site meetings, of the 81 indigenous trees (65% of the total indigenous trees) slated for removal, some will now be retained. These are mainly located in Brunswick Road Reserve and opposite Linlithgow Avenue. The tree society meeting notes indicate that 21 of the indigenous trees previously slated for removal will now be retained i.e. numbers 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 161,162, 163, 164, 165, 177, 187, 234, 239, 240, 241 and 249 (confirmation of indigenous tree retention numbers from HLXRA has recently been requested but has as yet not received by the tree society).


In addition the tree society recently requested the following information:

  • –  The proposed fates for the 60 or so remaining indigenous trees still on the list forremoval – hoping that more can be retained with careful planning and due consideration being given to the trees’ importance in the landscape (tree numbers provided by the tree society)
  • –  What is happening with the16 trees marked for re-assessment (tree numbers provided)? Can most of these trees be retained?
  • –  Confirmation that the 26 indigenous trees listed for retention in the report will retained (tree numbers provided)
  • –  The tree society noted that of particular habitat importance are the 60 or so indigenous trees that are designated as ‘Large Old Trees’ with diameters at breast height (DBH) of 50 cm or greater. The tree numbers for these trees has been provided to the authority and their retention must be considered as being of the Highest Priority.Native TreesOf the 87 native trees, 34 are listed for removal, 27 for retention and 26 for reassessment. The tree society has requested the fates for these trees and supplied tree numbers. The hope is that with careful planning and allowance for their importance, some (many?) of the trees listed for removal can be saved and most of those listed for re-assessment will remain.Exotic Trees

    Of the 26 exotic trees, 16 are listed for removal, 5 for retention and 5 for reassessment. The tree society has requested the fates for these trees and supplied tree numbers.

    Confirmation of the ultimate fates for the 250 trees assessed in the arborist’s report and the Leighton Tree Management Strategy sheets will underpin the overall replacement amenity value ($) of the lost trees as well dictate the requirements of a suitable re-planting program within Whitehorse in terms of tree numbers, tree species, planting locations and planting schedules.

    Yours sincerely

    David Berry
    Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.


Blackburn Protest Rally Flyer

Poster #1

Poster #2

Poster #3


Poster #5

Poster #6




April 2016

Report on Tree Society Negotiations with the Blackburn LXRA Regarding Project Works on Trees and Vegetation

A walkthrough from Cottage Street (at the eastern perimeter of Morton Park) to beyond the commuter car park in South Parade Blackburn was held in late March and attended by Blackburn LXRA and Tree Society representatives.

The objective was to discuss the works’ impacts on trees and vegetation and the potential for minimizing these impacts.

On the face of it the meeting was mutually constructive.

The tree society committee member (David Berry) reported back to community stakeholders, Whitehorse Ward councilors and individuals via email thus:
‘- Following much negotiation LXRA staff have promised that only 17 of the Morton Park pine trees will go (out of a total of 63). These trees need to go mainly because of the installation of large drainage infrastructure underground at the eastern and western ends of the tree stand. The remaining trees need to be pruned for machinery access on the railway side and their health will be monitored over the next few months/years. This is a great result and the authority has promised to work with council, the tree society and BVRG to plan and re-plant locally where possible e.g. in Morton Park itself.
– Only about a third of the quiet courtyard area north of the library will be given over to drainage infrastructure and access works leaving one large, shady tree and a reasonable area near the tennis courts for a quiet lunch spot. This does mean the loss of three trees near Blackburn Road but originally the whole area and its amenity was to be destroyed. The authority has also promised to help with soft landscaping adjacent to the path and tennis courts (no trees though). – The news is not good through the Blackburn Station Gardens though (which is railway land!). The authority will re-locate the palm trees (easy to do as they are monocots) however most other vegetation will go because of drainage works thru the centre of the gardens. The vegetation to go includes many woody weeds but also substantial trees (many planted by community working- bees organised by the Tree Society and local traders in the 1990s-2000s). The ‘best’ trees to go include Blackwoods (4-6), Black Wattles, Lightwoods, Casuarinas (2-3), a magnificent Banksia, a number of Lilly Pillys, at least two substantial Oak Trees and a large Eucalypt at the western end of the South Parade car park. We’ve managed to extract a promise to save a couple of Gleditsias near the rotunda and the Eucalypt pauciflora nearby and possibly a couple of others. The second Eucalyptus pauciflora near the playground has Bracket Fungus and needs to be removed. Another Eucalypt near the western end of the car park can be saved. The authority has promised that many of the trees on the embankment west of the playground will remain.

– The LXRA is supportive of council, the tree society, BVRG, local traders and Rotary being involved in discussions/decisions re landscaping the gardens subsequent to works’ completion. This will be an interesting exercise as these gardens have historic ‘English’ and Victorian-era vegetation elements as well as native/indigenous plantings (the latter occurring more recently).

– At the end of a site meeting with LXRA reps yesterday I stated that whilst the tree society and community wasn’t at all happy with the loss of so much vegetation, we need to look at this as an opportunity to work together to make the gardens even better in the medium- to long-term.

– I also thanked the LXRA reps for their willingness to consult and compromise (albeit after substantial community agitation and at a late stage of works’ planning!)
Further meetings will be held over the next few weeks but major works and disruption will occur very soon.’

As a courtesy this community report was forwarded to the Blackburn LXRA that prompted a telephone call almost immediately refuting many of the points made in the report and followed by an email of similar tenor (which due to a confidentiality clause attached to the email has not been reproduced here).

A tree society response was made the following day as follows:

‘Following our telephone conversation yesterday and your subsequent email report on the current status of tree and vegetation impacts resulting from the Blackburn LXR and on behalf of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc. I will:

– Publicly retract my report to tree society members, community and council as circulated soon after our site meeting/walkthrough (and sent to you yesterday) and apologise for raising their hopes that the tree and vegetation impacts have been in any way lessened by the tree society’s negotiations with BLXRA representatives

– Make sure that any reports in future contain information obtained from the BLXRA in writing such that it cannot subsequently be disputed by the BLXRA
– Include in the next report (to tree society members, community, council, local politicians and the media) the current status for impacts on the existing trees and vegetation around the BLXR project, which are:
1. Morton Park Pine Trees – 17 of the 63 trees will definitely be removed and the remaining trees are all under threat of removal subject to a ‘process of determining which of the remaining pine trees in Morton Park are able to be retained. We cannot guarantee that the trees can safely remain where they are until we progress further with detailed designs and investigations.’ (BLXRA quote).
2. The trees to be retained by the LXRA between Cottage Street (eastern section of Morton Park) and the railway embankment to the west of the South Parade car park as stated in writing by the LXRA are 2 Gleditsias near the Rotunda and 1 Eucalypt at the western end of the Blackburn Station Gardens adjacent to the car park.
3. This means a total of 130+ substantial trees will be either be removed or, subject to receiving further information in writing from the BLXRA, will probably be removed to make way for BLXR works.


This doesn’t include substantial shrub and under-storey plantings in the station gardens.
NB Many trees have already been removed including those adjacent to the tennis courts and along the railway reserve.

Of particular importance in the Blackburn Station Gardens are trees numbered 774, 779, 795, 828, 838, 901 and 916 and important species represented include

Eucalypts (5), Blackwoods (7), She-oaks (3), Oak Trees (2), Palm Trees (4),

Gleditsias (2), Lilly Pillys (2), a Banksia (1) and a Black Wattle (1).
In addition there are 2 Eucalypts, 1 large Bottlebrush and an expansive shady Lilly Pilly (?) in the library courtyard.
4. Despite numerous requests from the tree society committee and other community groups and individuals there has been:
– No arborist report for the Blackburn LXRA works area provided (or made accessible) to the community,
– No information forthcoming on the totality of trees and vegetation to be retained, removed or re-assessed
– No information on protection for retained trees/vegetation during BLXR works as per the CEMP
– No details about replacement plantings, species, locations or time-lines as per the CEMP
– In fact to our knowledge the CEMP has yet to be completed!

This report will be sent out to the tree society members and the wider community etc. next Tuesday morning.
However the report will be amended prior to distribution should further relevant and credible information in writing be received from the BLXRA by COB next Monday (18 April 2016).’

I have yet to receive a response from this latest email to the Blackburn LXRA. I will be distributing this report by tomorrow at the latest.

In addition, community representatives have raised the issue of the historic importance of the low bluestone retaining wall at the western end of the South Parade car park.
Well-known landscape designer (Bev Hanson) was consulted as to the wall’s history and provenance and concluded that the wall was of high historic and aesthetic value and should be spared with any project works in its immediate vicinity. The tree society committee has requested confirmation from the Blackburn LXRA that no works will negatively impact this bluestone wall.

David Berry
Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. 19 April 2016

Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail



Flyer for Blackburn and Laburnum residents



Eastern Projects
Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail Vicroads

10 January 2016

Dear Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Project Team

In December 2015, members of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. (BDTPS) attended the Vicroads Community Information sessions concerning the proposed Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail (BHRRT) route through Laburnum, Blackburn, Nunawading, Mitcham and Heatherdale.

Prior to attending these sessions our membership (numbering 80 individuals and community groups, mostly associated with Whitehorse) assumed that, as ‘rail trail’ implies, and is the case for other rail trails throughout Victoria, the route would be located on railway reserve land.

We were wrong!

It is apparent from the plans exhibited at the information sessions that the preferred route through these suburbs will:

  • Cut through treed linear parks, open spaces and reserves in Laburnum (e.g.

    Laburnum Station Gardens), Mitcham (e.g. Brunswick Park) and Heatherdale

  • Include a section that will negatively impact street trees in Laburnum Street andthe canopy trees in Elmore Walk, Blackburn
  • Have a deleterious effect on mature, healthy trees in private ownership alongGlen Ebor and Oliver Avenues and Cromwell Court Blackburn (especially if therail trail route will be on the south side of the railway reserve)
  • Negatively impact mature canopy trees including remnant Eucalypts in Mitcham including:

    o The trees in Brunswick Park

    o Remnant trees immediately west and east of Cochrane Street and north of Brunswick Road (this area includes the planned pathway and bridge construction)

    o Trees within the narrow linear park link between Cochrane Street and Purches Street

    o The existing trees (including remnant Eucalypts) along Tennyson Street(north of the railway line) and

    o The link through to Heatherdale Railway Station and Heatherdale Road (which did contain over 40 mature Pine trees that have recently been removed).

The tree society is opposed to cycling commuter paths such as the BHRRT being installed within linear parks to the detriment of other park users including pedestrians, rail commuters and people undertaking a range of passive recreational pursuits.
Of particular concern is the planned BHRRT route south of the railway reserve between Laburnum and Nunawading.
Parks that will be negatively impacted by a commuter trail south of the railway line include the Laburnum Station Gardens, Elmore Walk, trees bordering Morton Park and the Seventh Day Adventist land in Nunawading.

The tree society has grave concerns that there will be substantial loss of or damage to existing vegetation in these open spaces including to important indigenous remnant trees with high amenity, conservation and habitat values.

In addition the residents of Glen Ebor and Oliver Avenues and Cromwell Court Blackburn have realistic fears that mature trees within their back gardens bordering the railway reserve will be damaged by commuter path construction works adjacent to their northern property boundaries should the southern trail route be preferred. They are particularly concerned about the risk of moderate to severe damage to tree root systems and tree canopies with subsequent destabilization and the ultimate loss of the trees.

To allay the fears of the membership of the tree society and the broader Whitehorse community the BDTPS committee urges you to:

  1. Locate theBHRRT on the northern side of the railway reserve from Laburnum to Nunawading
  2. Consult with the residents of Blackburn whose trees may be impacted by the railtrail and/or grade separation works and allay their fears of tree damage and lossas detailed above
  3. Make public the numbers,species and locations of trees and shrubs that will beremoved to make way for the rail trail on public and private land
  4. Make public a landscape-planting plan (again with numbers,species and locations) to replace the vegetation and canopy loss as a consequence of the rail trail project. Ideally the replacement plantings would be within or close to the project site and be composed largely of indigenous species of local provenance
  5. Make sure that no environmental weed species are included in the planting plan
  6. Provide a schedule for the planting works and a management plan for their carein the short to medium term

Yours sincerely

David Berry
Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. C/- 34 Indra Road
Blackburn South VIC 3130
0413 457 184


Submission re Tree & Vegetation Impacts Feb 2016 

27 June 2016

An Open Letter To Michael Hassett, the Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. and VicRoads

It’s an understatement that the VicRoads/Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. southern shared use path project through Laburnum and Blackburn has sparked ‘disagreements’ (‘Path sparks disagreements’, Whitehorse Leader 20 June 2016).
It has done much more than this – it has inflamed community outrage!

The frightening combination of arrogance and naivety exhibited by Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. spokesperson Mr. Michael Hassett is obvious to all as evidenced by his ignorance of the collateral damage caused by the southern-shared use path construction between Laburnum and Nunawading. An excerpt from the Whitehorse Leader newspaper article states:

‘ … Mr Hassett also said he was surprised at the number of trees which would need to be removed to make way for the level crossing works and shared-use path …’
Where have you been Michael? What were you; your Whitehorse Cyclists’ cronies and VicRoads thinking when you came up with this foolish plan?

Major environmental damage is unavoidable should your preferred southern route be accepted. Laburnum Station Gardens, Laburnum Street, Elmore Walk, the Blackburn Station Gardens, Morton Park, the back gardens of Glen Ebor residents and the Seventh Day Adventist land all trashed as a three-metre concrete path is bulldozed through.
Here are some facts for you to ponder as more trees are chopped down or severely compromised in Laburnum, Blackburn and Nunawading to make way for this folly:

  1. Two mature trees (a Eucalypt and a Liquidambar) will be removed in the Laburnum Station Gardens. A further 8 park trees including mature Ironbark Eucalypts and a privately-owned Pin Oak will have their tree protection zones impacted by the path works. (Reference: VicRoads Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Alignment Report March 2016).
  2. VicRoads has bowed to community pressure and will not now be building the path along the northern side of Laburnum Street to Elmore Walk which would have required the removal of at least 12 mature Pin Oak street trees collectively worth ~ $80,000. This begs the question of where the path will go? (Reference: VicRoads Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Alignment Report March 2016 & Whitehorse Council Tree Valuation Tool).
  3. VicRoads still exercises the possibility of building the concrete path through Elmore Walk with the loss of 12 mature trees, mostly Eucalypts, collectively worth ~$120,000. (Reference: VicRoads Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Alignment Report March 2016 & Whitehorse Council Tree Valuation Tool).
  4. The Blackburn Level Crossing Authority (BLXRA) plans to remove 40 trees (38 in public ownership) to construct the ‘new South Parade path’ near the IGA supermarket. (Reference: Revised Blackburn Level Crossing Removal Project; Update on tree management for the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, May 2016).
  5. The properties bordering the railway reserve in Glen Ebor & Oliver Avenues and Cromwell Court, Blackburn face the compulsory removal of trees from their back gardens due to railway cutting and shared-use path works. Between 70 and 100 trees are impacted by the works with major impacts on tree protection zones reported. A case study of three properties (2 Cromwell Court, 41 and 49 Glen Ebor Avenue) demonstrates that for a dozen of the trees slated for removal the Blackburn Level Crossing Removal Authority arborist report makes a clear distinction between the anticipated tree root damage from the level crossing removal (i.e. the creation of the cutting) and the construction of the shared use path on the southern side of the rail corridor. The report reveals that these trees won’t be (or will be only minimally) impacted by the railway works but will be severely impacted by the construction of the southern-shared use path. The trees, numbered 167-169, 173, 174, 211-215, 275, 278 and 282 would be retained if the southern-shared use path was abandoned in favour of the community-preferred route on the northern side of the railway reserve where there is scant vegetation and plenty of space. (References: Artio and Homewood consulting arborists, 2015-2016).
  1. In light of the above case study there is strong community suspicion that the BLXRA and VicRoads have been less than honest with the community. Their rejection of community claims that the southern shared use path construction would cause considerable damage to the historic stand of Cypress Trees in Morton Park and the significant and historic trees in the Blackburn Station Gardens appears to be self-serving nonsense.
    • 63 of the 66 Morton Park Cypress Trees were assessed as ‘Worthy of Retention’. The trees are collectively worth over a million dollars. They are being cut down now!
    • Only 50 of the 250 trees and large shrubs in the Blackburn Station Gardens were assessed as ‘Not Worth Retaining’. The trees in the gardens are worth in excess of one million dollars including a 100-year old Oak Tree worth $100,000. Sadly, most of these trees have already been cut down.
    • In those sections of the Blackburn Station Gardens and Morton Park where the railway cutting/drainage works required tree removals, the subsequent construction of the 3-metre wide concrete shared use path over the top will exclude ANY substantial replanting in the park and the gardens. This alone is sufficient reason to re-locate the path to the northern side! (Reference: Hundreds of Blackburn and Laburnum residents, pers. comm.; Homewood consulting arborists Preliminary Impact Assessment, 2015 & Whitehorse Council Tree Valuation Tool).
  2. Thirty-two historic Pine Trees and indigenous Eucalypts will be removed with the railway/shared use path construction works on the Seventh Day Adventist land, near the Nunawading Christian School oval. Whilst construction works access has required the removal of a few trees in the north-east corner of the land it is interesting to note that the railway line is ‘at grade’ in this location i.e. no railway cutting works are required. However the southern shared use path will be constructed near these trees and one can only assume that the trees will be removed because of the path works. (Reference: Level Crossing Removal Project Furlong, Main, Blackburn, Heatherdale, Design Package B27, Shared Use Path, Final Design, October 2015 & Artist’s impression of new railway cutting, Level Crossing Removal Authority, May 2016).

With these facts about the southern shared use path now at your disposal Michael, we in the tree society hope, along with the Laburnum and Blackburn communities, that your public utterances in the future will be much better informed.

The Laburnum and Blackburn communities say to a southern shared-use path and

to the northern ‘community’ route! The tree society committee and our 80+ members support this community view because the northern ’community’ shared use path route results in minimal tree and vegetation impacts.

David Berry
Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.


VCAT submission re SDA land

Click here to read the submission presented by David Berry at the VCAT hearing in March 2015.

The submission had a number of appendices that are worth reading:

Appendix 1 : Final SDA Retirement Village removal impact assessment

Appendix 2 : Amenity tree value – carbon storage – carbon dioxide storage

Appendix 3 : A case study in managing and enhancing indigenous vegetation