Category Archives: Newsletters

Book for Sale

The story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is now available at $30 per copy.

Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or bdtpsociety@gmail.com to secure your copy.

Front Cover

Fighting for the Trees details the history of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society since its inception in 1959 up until the end of 2016. During this period, far-sighted residents, initially in Blackburn, but ultimately throughout the City of Whitehorse, believed that community action, political lobbying and perseverance could, and would, preserve and enhance the local and wider environment for the benefit of all. Whitehorse residents owe these people a deep sense of gratitude for the green and leafy character of Whitehorse today – a jewel in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

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.

Newsletter March 2016

Whitehorse is Being Cleared of Trees by the Big Boys!

A new phase of tree and vegetation clearing has been occurring in Whitehorse over the past few years, in direct opposition to the seemingly futile attempts by the community and Whitehorse Council to keep our city ‘Green and Leafy’! What makes this sad state of affairs worse is that currently developers and residents are not the main perpetrators of this tree and vegetation loss.

The main culprits have been (or will be) Whitehorse Council and State Government Authorities clearing large stands of trees and vegetation for ‘public works’, including shared use paths and railway crossing removals. These have been, or will be, carried out in Whitehorse with little consultation with the community, or prior knowledge of the potential impacts.

In addition recent VCAT decisions have gone against Whitehorse Council and community groups’ endeavours to try and retain the city’s tree canopy by preventing excessive tree loss on private property.

Read this and more here

Continue reading

Newsletter October 2015

Click here to read about the following:

1.VCAT hearing for the Seventh Day Adventist Retirement Village development proposal in Nunawading

2. Withdrawal (and replacement) of funding to employ a Tree Education Officer in the Planning and Building Department at Whitehorse City Council

3. The Tree Society’s First 50 Years History Project

4. Council’s New ‘Indigenous Gardening in Whitehorse’ Booklet

5. Community opposition to sub-division, moonscaping and 3-home development proposed for 2 Walsham Road Blackburn

6.The Tree Society’s First 50 Years History Project