Category Archives: Newsletters

June 2018 Newsletter

Tree Protection Controls on Private Land in Whitehorse via Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9 (Amendment C191)

Whitehorse Council, via Amendment C191, has recently established tree controls for most of the Whitehorse residential area apart from those neighbourhoods that are already covered by Significant Landscape Overlays.

An article on this topic appeared in the March 2018 edition of the tree society newsletter. This is an important and long-awaited initiative by Council backed by the tree society and the wider community.

HOWEVER – these municipal tree controls are only interim and require review and ratification in December this year subject to further information gathering and liaison with the State Government.

The tree society is requesting that you email all Whitehorse Councillors and show your support for permanent tree controls for the City of Whitehorse.

The Councillors’ email addresses are:

Cr Bill Bennett bill.bennett@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Raylene Carr raylene.carr@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Prue Cutts prue.cutts@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Andrew Davenport andrew.davenport@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Sharon Ellis sharon.ellis@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Tina Liu tina.liu@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Denise Massoud denise.massoud@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Andrew Munroe andrew.munroe@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Ben Stennett ben.stennett@whitehorse.vic.gov.au
Cr Blair Barker blair.barker@whitehorse.vic.gov.au

Some of the reasons you may cite for supporting permanent tree controls include:

  1. Trees (and all types of vegetation, indigenous or otherwise) have long been appreciated for their aesthetic, environmental and habitat values in Whitehorse.
  2. Trees provide shading, decrease cooling costs, protect infrastructure (e.g. buildings, roads and paths), absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and store carbon so they play an important role in helping address global warming.
  3. There has been a rapid decline of canopy trees in non-Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO) areas (and also within SLO precincts) of Whitehorse over the past decade in the name of residential infill and commercial development.
  4. The now common practice of moonscaping residential sites prior to re-development will continue unabated if citywide tree controls are not kept in place permanently
  5. A bleak future is guaranteed if global warming continues as predicted with trees and vegetation crucial in mitigating climate change.
  6. We need more trees and an increase in the tree canopy in Whitehorse and not the decline currently experienced.

North East Link and Potential Impacts on Whitehorse

The society was unsuccessful in its application for membership of the North East Link (NEL) Community Liaison Group (CLG).

This means that there is no community organization officially represented on the NEL CLG to advocate for the preservation of the natural values in the Whitehorse municipality, in the face of their possible destruction by the NEL works.

Issues of particular concern include:

  • The NEL construction works will negatively impact the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen Road to the Ringwood tunnels. For example, according to the NEL authority’s ‘design schematic’ drawings, the section of the Eastern Freeway between Station Street and Middleborough Road will increase from the current 8 lanes (4 each way) to 16 or more lanes with the proposed modified on- and off-roads included. This means that the trees and associated vegetation in the freeway reserve will make way for bitumen surfaces.

But it gets worse!

  • Doubling the 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.

Parks adjacent to the freeway now under threat include Koonung Reserve, Koonung Creek Reserve, Manningham Park Reserve, Koonung Creek Linear Park (incorporating Koonung Creek Trail), Stanton Street Reserve, Elgar Park, Frank Sedgman Reserve, Eram Park, Boronia Grove Reserve, Nunawading Parklands, Eastern Freeway Linear Reserve, Slater Reserve and Oxford Street Reserve

  • The lovely Koonung Creek waterway will likely become a barrel drain and the associated wetlands will be destroyed
  • The main north-south roads in Whitehorse will require major widening works to cope with the projected increase in traffic volumes. These roads include Elgar Road, Station Street, Middleborough Road, Surrey/Blackburn Road and Springvale Road.

The tree society will continue to advocate for the preservation of these natural assets on the northern border of Whitehorse and actively lobby to minimize through traffic chaos on our major north-south roads.

Please join us by taking the following actions now:

Contact the North East Link Authority to voice your concerns:

   Email them at community@northeastlink.vic.gov.au or telephone 1800 105 105.

Or on social media:  Facebook        Twitter           Instagram

Recent VCAT hearings for Contentious Development Proposals in Blackburn

  • A Win for the Community – VCAT knocks back the childcare development proposal for 199 Canterbury Road

Whitehorse Council, the ‘SLOG’ residents’ collective ably led by Dianne Tribe, BVRG and the tree society made presentations opposing this development proposal at a VCAT hearing in mid-April.

The panel members released their findings in mid-May and affirmed support for council’s decision to not grant a permit for the childcare centre.

In the VCAT report the panel members emphasized Blackburn’s distinctive landscape character, its ‘bush environment’ and the mature indigenous trees dominating the neighbourhood.

The members accepted that a childcare centre was not an inappropriate development for the site and that the current development proposal’s design was an improvement on the previous application.

However the panel concluded that the proposal could not provide a suitable landscape outcome because the scale of the building and play areas: ‘… does not provide for sufficient space for appropriate tree retention and planting of new canopy trees in a manner that respects the area’s character and its distinctive landscape attributes …’

This decision vindicates all of the work done by council and the community in fighting to protect the landscape character of Significant Landscape Overlay areas within Whitehorse. But the community must remain vigilant, as more medium-density development proposals will be placed before council for 199 Canterbury Road as well as the neighbouring properties at 201 and 203 Canterbury Road in the near future.

These sites will be developed (and need to be re-planted with canopy trees as they have been slowly denuded of their vegetation over time) but if the proposals don’t meet the spirit and practice of the relevant clauses of the Whitehorse Planning Scheme (i.e. Neighbourhood Residential Zone and Significant Landscape Overlay) they will be actively opposed by the tree society.

  • 20-24 Masons Road – Impact of construction works on neighbour’s significant tree at 18 Masons Road

The VCAT Hearing for this issue was held in mid-May.

Council, the tree society, BVRG and local resident and tree society member Dianne Tribe made presentations. The VCAT determination is scheduled for late June.

Hopefully the tree remains minimally damaged by the construction works and can be retained for the rest of its useful life of 25-50 years.

  • 10 Eustace Street – Large garage construction with significant loss of trees

The applicant withdrew from the planned VCAT Hearing with the hearing being cancelled as a consequence.

Bouquets and Brickbats to Council in the 2018-19 Whitehorse City Council Draft Budget

  • Bouquets
    • $80,000 has been allocated to purchase a tree canopy assessment software tool so that the city’s tree canopy can be measured to assess canopy gain or loss and also to benchmark against neigbouring councils.
    • Council’s Tree Education Officer position will become permanent.
    • Council’s ‘Garden for Wildlife’ program is proving very popular with Whitehorse residents and will be continued through the 2018-19 year.
    • Congratulations to council for committing to spend ~ $1.7M on strategic land acquisitions in the city with funding sourced from the Whitehorse Public Open Space Reserve.
  • Brickbats
    • At the moment Whitehorse has less tree canopy cover compared with Manningham, Boroondara and Maroondah councils – so we’re not as ‘green and leafy’ after all!
    • Council has budgeted $300,000 for the city’s street tree planting program for 2018-19 – an amount that is the same as that allocated in the 2006-07 year. There has been no real increase in funding for over thirteen years, not even an allowance made for inflation! And it’s not as if we have a surfeit in street trees in Whitehorse, as many streets are tree-deficient as evidenced in the March newsletter article on this issue. We need more money and resources put into the street tree program to enhance the city’s tree canopy cover.
  • Council forecasts an amount in excess of $40,000,000 in the Public Open Space Reserve Fund for the 2018-19 Budget year (with $64,000,000 forecast for 2021-22). A significant surge in fund deposits is predicted over the next few years due to the increased developer contributions resulting from the burgeoning medium and high density infill developments within Whitehorse (including the massive high-rise building construction in the Box Hill Municipal Activity Centre).

This amount is substantial but council is slow in using the money 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 are in the Box Hill area.

A couple of 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. 

Masons Road Reserve Blackburn – Report on the May Planting Activity

Fifteen local residents attended a planting activity in Mason Road Reserve on Saturday morning 19th May 2018.

Over 140 indigenous plants suited to boggy conditions were planted in the pond near Lagoona Court and Masons Road (now known as the ‘Lagoona Pond’).

The plants were sourced from WCIPP Bungalook nursery via an environmental grant from the Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund.

David Berry and Mary Crouch provided the planting tools and Mary Crouch and Dianne Tribe provided morning-tea.

Another activity is planned for Saturday 30 June from 9.30-11.30 am with weeding and we’ll be planting in and around the two ponds within the retarding basin.

In addition Nathan Mattinson from Melbourne Water has been contacted regarding the possible replacement of the 100 or so plants lost over summer from the original 550 plants planted around the bowl of the retarding basin. Nathan will be organizing the replacement of these plants and removal of some of the plant guards that are restricting plant growth.

Update on the re-planting of residential gardens around 25 Holland Road Blackburn South

Local residents and the tree society have undertaken a re-planting project in residential gardens surrounding 25 Holland Road to replace twenty-five trees maliciously cut down by the owner-developer in 2017.

The Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund has awarded a $500 environmental grant to purchase indigenous plants from Bungalook community nursery. So far upwards of sixty small trees and shrubs have been planted in five properties surrounding 25 Holland Road, with another fifty plants to be planted in the neighbouring Chinese Church grounds within the next few weeks.

Tree and Vegetation Removal at 21 Laurel Grove North, Blackburn

In early March over a dozen significant trees were cut down at 21 Laurel Grove, North Blackburn, which, along with a general clearing of understory shrubs, resulted in a near moonscaping of the block to the detriment of the neighbourhood’s natural landscape values.

This property should have been afforded the highest priority for its bushland landscape character as entrenched in the Whitehorse Planning Scheme via its location in a Neighbourhood Residential Zone (No. 1, ‘Bush Environment’) with the added protection of Significant Landscape Overlay No. 1.

In addition, the property is located in one of Blackburn’s National Trust-classified streets.

With little in the way of residents’ consultation or works notification from council and a community perception that the tree and vegetation removal process was ‘fast-tracked’, the resultant community anger was widespread, immediate and totally justified. A storm of letters and emails to councillors and senior council officers over the past three months has done little to allay community concerns.

The tree society views this specific act as unjustified and the planning process lacking in transparency. There is also a concern that this case will set a precedent for further destruction of trees and vegetation within these precious bushland neighbourhoods in the future.

The tree society fully supports the local community in their endeavours to arrest the canopy loss in the Bellbird area of Blackburn.

The society has voiced its concerns to council since mid-March 2018. Our most recent correspondence was forwarded to council on 1 May and so far we haven’t received any acknowledgement or response to the letter.

The society will continue to seek clarification of this issue from council.

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund

The Fund, sponsored by the tree society, supports on-ground conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse.

Current environmental grants are supporting planting activities at Masons Road Reserve, Blackburn and in residential gardens surrounding 25 Holland Road in Blackburn South. Funding has also been pledged to support Council’s Gardens for Wildlife program for 2018.

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 Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society sponsors the Fund.

Can You Help?

We’ve nearly run out of copies of the tree society history book that was released last year. The society is asking for funding support from Members and Friends to print another fifty copies of Fighting for the Trees so that we can provide free copies to schools, libraries, local environmental organizations, community groups and bushland park advisory committees.

Targeted tax-deductible donations can be made to the Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund by stating that donations are specifically for ‘Tree Society Book Printing’ purposes.

The society needs $1,000 so a $20 donation will print one book (or even better a $100 donation will print five books).

For details regarding donations to the Fund please refer to the previous newsletter article.

We still have a few copies of the history book left:

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.

Planting in Nunawading Parklands

Nunawading Parklands (Melway 48 F/6) is an eleven-hectare open space in Nunawading.

In 2016 the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) pledged an offset planting project to plant 24,000 indigenous plants in the Junction Road/Nunawading Parklands. This was compensation for the destruction of hundreds of mature trees and shrubs, many of them indigenous species, resulting from the railway level crossing removal works at Blackburn and Heatherdale Roads.

Mary Crouch and David Berry met with LXRA officials in late March 2018.

Notable meeting outcomes included:

  • 18,000 indigenous trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs have been propagated and will be planted this year
  • The tree society and the Friends of Nunawading Parklands have been allocated one of the seven planting sites on the land for community planting activities. The bed is close to the western end of Spencer Street Nunawading and 1,400 plants have been allocated for the site. We will inform members of planting activity dates when the beds have been prepared – probably in July-August this year
  • Tenders have been sought from commercial operators to plant the remaining 16,600 plants in the park.

Victorian Local Government Bill Exposure Draft

In mid-March 2018 the tree society made a formal submission in response to the release of the Exposure Draft of the Victorian Local Government Bill. The submission was developed in partnership with the Blackburn Village Residents Group (BVRG Inc.) and Whitehorse Active Transport Action Group (WATAG Inc.).

The Draft Bill seeks to:

  • Provide a better understanding of the role of councils as democratically elected bodies
  • Encourage Victorians to participate more as candidates, voters and citizens in council activities and contribute to council strategic visions and plans
  • Drive more autonomous and outcome focused councils
  • Encourage Councils to embrace innovative and collaborative arrangements that increase organisational efficiency and deliver public value for residents
  • Provide a sound framework for the sector to become more efficient and enterprising in local governance.

The combined submission stressed that the Act in its current iteration is ambiguous and inconsistent, unnecessarily prescriptive, unwieldy, not particularly user-friendly and in some cases redundant and requires substantial reform to produce a contemporary, accessible Act written in plain English.

The submission endorses the provision for a new governance framework, a key feature of the Bill, that will more clearly define council outcomes and help reverse the widening disconnect between local government and its constituents as observed by many community groups and individuals interacting with local government.

We believe that the Bill will direct local governments in Victoria to be more transparent, collaborative, responsive, professional and with a much-improved governance for their constituents into the future. The Bill will also more closely connect councils with their communities by actively facilitating community and individual participation in the council decision-making process.

The society, along with BVRG and WATAG anticipates that the new local Government Act will be enthusiastically embraced by Whitehorse Council and calls for diligent State government oversight to make sure that the spirit and practice of the proposed reforms in the new Bill will be fully actioned by all Victorian councils in a timely manner.

Western Highway Duplication near Ararat

An article on the environmental effects of these proposed road works was published in the tree society’s March 2018 newsletter. The article provided information on the negative environmental effects of the proposed route through farmland and the proponents’ advocacy for a ‘Northern Option’ for the highway duplication between Buangor and Ararat.

Refer to the March newsletter for the full article.

In the intervening period another environmental advocacy group opposed to the ‘Northern Option’ has contacted the society.

Please note that both groups are opposed to any roadworks that destroy significant remnant bushland, including large, old, significant Eucalypts.

The question however remains – if the road duplication is a fait accompli, which route will minimize environmental degradation, whether it be on public or private land?

In the interests of fairness and balance the tree society committee has published an alternative view of the proposed road works’ route authored by the Western Highway Conservation Group as follows:

‘… The Western Highway Duplication near Ararat: why residents’ “Northern Option” doesn’t make ecological sense.

An article on the Western Highway Duplication in the March 2018 Tree Society Newsletter contains a number of inaccuracies. Local residents in the Mt Langi Ghiran area who are experiencing property severance have mounted a vigorous and spirited campaign to defend their land. This is understandable. However, their proposal of a “Northern Option” is unfortunately as bad if not worse, ecologically speaking, than the route which is on the cusp of being built.

 Residents propose using a narrow powerline easement adjacent to the current highway. This area is home to unique and diverse remnant vegetation. The poor soil quality there has generated a correspondingly species-rich heathy woodland community which is uncommon compared with the rest of the nearby Mt Langi Ghiran vegetation. Rather, it is similar to some woodlands found in the distant West Wimmera. It is home to an unnamed species of Melaleuca, a rare Grevillia and significant populations of the rare Emerald-lip Greenhood. It also shares a large, healthy population of sugar gliders with those on the other side of the highway. Further roadworks in the area, which the residents propose, would decimate the population.

 The residents’ solution would see the loss of exquisitely vegetated roadsides adjacent to the powerline in the vicinity of Mt Langi Ghiran. These roadsides are of Very High Conservation status, are continuous and are an extension of the vegetation from the mountain, which is essential for maintaining a vibrant habitat. While some of the farmland in question has some good remnants, they are in patches only and less well connected to the core of Mt Langi Ghiran. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) recognised this too: hence the approval of the alignment through residents’ farmland which is further away; sad though it is for the latter.

 David Leviston

Western Highway Conservation Group

26 March 2018 …’

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 Email Address

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

Email: Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com for all tree-related matters.

 

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March 2018 Newsletter

Tree Protection Controls on Private Land in Whitehorse – Municipal Wide Significant Landscape Overlay (Amendment C191)

It’s been a long time coming (the process was initiated in late 2015), but we finally have tree protection controls for residential properties for the greater part of Whitehorse. Thanks to Council, local community groups and individuals for their perseverance and persistence in making this important initiative a reality.

The relevant document, Amendment C191, applies a citywide Significant Landscape Overlay to all residential land in Whitehorse not currently included in a Significant Landscape Overlay. The new overlay is in place, on an interim basis, from 8 February until 31 December 2018. The amendment is designed to prevent the unauthorized removal of large, established trees and provide more protection for the landscape character of Whitehorse.

However, the tree society has a number of concerns that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency (apart from answering the obvious question as to why it took so long for the State Government Planning Minister to ratify and gazette the Amendment):

1. The tree controls are interim only until end-December 2018. Why is this interim requirement necessary and is this enough time to decide whether the tree controls are having any effect?

2. Has Council budgeted for the increase in personnel, time and resources necessary to administer the tree control for this interim period? We hope the amendment has not been set up to fail!

3. Why are the permit triggers for tree removal via this amendment much more lax than for the existing Significant Landscape Overlay areas (e.g. SLO1 and 2)? The new controls require a permit to remove a tree that has a single trunk circumference greater than 1.0 metre at a height of one metre above ground level, whereas for SLO1 and SLO2 areas the permit trigger is a circumference greater than 0.5 metres. One can argue that the accelerated loss of trees/tree canopy and the common practice of ‘moonscaping’ in the non-protected Whitehorse suburbs requires at least the same protection as for those suburbs that have enjoyed tree controls for many years. By way of example, a large site in an SLO2 area, currently subject to a VCAT hearing, has 24 trees on or adjacent to the site that are greater than 0.5 metres in trunk circumference and thus require a council permit for their removal. If the same property was located in the new tree control area only 15 of the trees would require a permit prior to their removal – an almost 40% reduction. This won’t help to address the massive tree losses in the city at large.

4. Tree controls must be extended to provide urgent protection for younger and smaller growing trees; otherwise tree density, tree canopy cover and mature tree ‘succession’ is compromised on private land. It is farcical that Council can require a homeowner to plant more trees following the removal of large specimens, but then provide only limited protection for the youngsters to grow to maturity so that they can replace the mature trees in time.

5. How will Council measure the effectiveness of the new tree controls? The tree society urges Council to adopt a municipal tree canopy assessment tool to provide an objective measurement of the city’s tree canopy over time. Such a tool already exists and is discussed in a report: Benchmarking Australia’s Tree Canopy: An i-Tree Assessment, 2014, authored by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney.

The new controls via Amendment C191 apply to most of the residential land in Whitehorse, and more specifically all residential land in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, General Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone and Low Density Residential Zone that is not already covered by an overlay. Please note that these interim controls do not change the zoning of any land in Whitehorse. Council has recently notified relevant landowners by letter of their obligations under Amendment C191 regarding these new tree controls. Owners unsure as to which residential zone and/or overlay applies to their neighbourhood can refer to the following link for details: http://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/Whitehorse-Maps.html.

In essence Amendment C191 means that a Council permit is now required to remove, destroy or lop a tree on private property. This does not apply to:

• A tree less than 5m in height and having a single trunk circumference of 1.0 metre or less at a height of one metre above ground level (NB: 1 metre circumference = ~ 32 centimetres diameter or around two hand-spans, or

• The pruning of a tree for regeneration or ornamental shaping; or

• A tree which is dead or dying or has become dangerous to the satisfaction of the responsible authority;

• A tree outside the Minimum Street Setback in the Residential Growth Zone. This means that any tree that has a trunk circumference of greater than 1.0m at 1.0m from the ground and/or a height of 5 metres or more requires a planning permit before it can be removed. A permit is not required to remove a dead, dying or dangerous tree to the satisfaction of Council. Further information can be obtained on Council’s website or by contacting Council’s Planning and Building department on 9262 6303.

North East Link and Potential Impacts on Whitehorse

In February 2018 the society applied for membership of the North East Link (NEL) Community Liaison Group. We need a seat at the table as we:

• Have a keen interest in the natural landscape from Greensborough to Bulleen including the Watsonia Army Barracks site and the Yarra River Valley/Banyule Flats and

• Are vitally concerned about the impacts of the construction works on the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen Road to the Ringwood tunnels, and on adjacent parklands and open space in Mont Albert North, Box Hill North, Blackburn North, Nunawading and Mitcham.

We also fear that the main north-south roads in Whitehorse will require major widening works to cope with the projected increase in traffic volumes. These roads include Elgar Road, Station Street (where new on- and off-ramps will probably need to be built), Middleborough Road, Surrey/Blackburn Road and Springvale Road.

The following vehicles are prohibited from being driven through the EastLink tunnels:

• Vehicles exceeding 4.65m in height will be automatically detected and stopped from entering the tunnel by boom gates

• Vehicles required to display a placard must never use a tunnel and will be stopped if detected, and

• Vehicles considered to be Over Dimensional by VicRoads must use OD1 to by-pass the tunnels.

Therefore, following construction of the North East Link, it is anticipated that the substantial increase in trucks turning east from the NEL onto the Eastern Freeway will be travelling along Springvale Road, Maroondah Highway and Burwood Highway to bypass the tunnels i.e. through the eastern part of Whitehorse.

The tree 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. Should our application be successful, we will provide community input, advocacy and regular feedback on the planning and construction of the North East Link.

A community workshop, attended by David Berry, was held at the Veneto Club in Bulleen on Tuesday 27 February. David attended the ‘Our Environment’ conversation stream with thirty other people who were similarly concerned about the environmental impacts of the freeway construction.

We’ll keep you posted as to the success or otherwise for our application for membership of the NEL Community Liaison Group.

Pending VCAT hearings for Contentious Development Proposals in Blackburn

• 199 Canterbury Road – Childcare Development Proposal

A VCAT-convened Compulsory Conference, held on 13th February, was attended by all parties to discuss and decide whether the VCAT hearing scheduled for 9-11 April will go ahead. After a lengthy 5-hour session the conference was adjourned until 6 March, to give the developer time to prepare amended plans that would decrease the building footprint, separate the retained trees from the play spaces, make provision for five more large canopy trees and allow VicRoads to complete and circulate a traffic report.

Apparently, according to Council and the VCAT Member, the glut of childcare centres in Blackburn/Forest Hill (with more being built) and client parking in Lagoona Street and on Canterbury Road, are not considered major impediments to the granting of the development proposal. A cursory examination of the amended plans received on Wednesday 28 February has not persuaded the tree society (or BVRG or the local residents’ group) to settle the case at the reconvened conference on Tuesday 6 March. In fact the plans are worse than the originals, the amended Landscape Planting Plan is unfinished and no VicRoads traffic report had been circulated by the weekend of 3 and 4 March.

• 20-24 Masons Road – Impact of construction works on neighbour’s significant tree at 18 Masons Road

Earlier in 2017 the owner at 20-24 Masons Road excavated within 2 metres (and into the root zone) of a mature, significant, protected Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box) to construct a shed without obtaining a planning permit. He then obtained an arborist report that concluded the tree was unsafe due to root damage. Apparently, the owner of 20-24 Masons Road now contends that the tree is safe and can be retained along with the illegally constructed shed. The matter is now going to a VCAT Hearing in May and the tree society will make a presentation.

• 10 Eustace Street – Large garage construction with significant loss of trees

A planning application for the construction of a huge shed and associated access driveway requiring the removal of ten trees has now gone to VCAT with a Hearing date yet to be announced. The tree society has put in a Statement of Grounds to VCAT, opposing the development application, and will make a presentation at the Hearing.

How Can We Increase the Tree Canopy in Whitehorse in One Easy Step?

Answer: Plant at least one street tree in the nature-strip for every residential frontage throughout the City.

Case Study: Branksome Grove (Melway 61 H-1) in Blackburn South is 400 metres long with 40 residences having a front or side boundary onto the street and a small neighbourhood park halfway along on the western side. A recent walk through assessment of the street trees showed a deficiency in the streetscape of twenty or more street trees. About half of the properties in Branksome Grove have street trees on their front or side boundaries; many of those properties do have small trees or shrubs, but they do little for the canopy cover of the area. This is not good enough and requires urgent action by Council. Branksome Grove is not an isolated tree-deficient streetscape; many streets in Blackburn South and other Whitehorse suburbs have similar streetscape deficits. So come on Whitehorse Council – let’s have a 5-year plan to make it happen; a street tree outside every house in the city by the end of 2022. And while we’re at it let’s provide incentives for residents to plant two or more trees in their nature-strips and/or convert their nature-strips into native gardens, community vegie patches or herb gardens!

Masons Road Reserve Blackburn – Park activity 9.30-11.30 am, Saturday 17 March 2018  Local residents are invited to the second major park activity for Mason Road Reserve to be held on Saturday 17 March from 9.30-11.30 am. We will be weeding the three ponds and their environ,s and checking out the other plants that were planted in Spring 2017 by Melbourne Water and the community. If the weather breaks beforehand we may even be planting again in and around the ponds. Please meet near the ‘Lagoona’ Pond at the end of Masons Road at 9.30 am and bring gloves, a kneeling mat, small gardening fork or weed digger, water and sunscreen. A couple of smaller working bees have been held this year to remove the weeds (mainly Kikuyu) that are running rampant in the ‘Lagoona’ Pond. We need to start up a dedicated local ‘Friends’ group to provide stewardship for the ponds and reserve in general. Nathan Mattinson, the Waterways and Land Officer at Melbourne Water, will be attending the activity and we will ask him about Friends groups for other Melbourne Water assets in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Hope to see Tree Society members at the activity on the 17th March. We will be asking the Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund and Council to provide funding or indigenous plants for winter planting activities in the park.

25 Holland Road Blackburn South – Planting in Residential Gardens  Because the developer tore down around 25 mature trees from this site, for no reason, last year, local residents and the tree society decided to initiate a re-planting project to plant trees and shrubs in residential gardens abutting the now bare site at 25 Holland Road, in order to replace this lost canopy. The Blackburn and District Environment Protection Fund has pledged $500 to purchase indigenous plants from Bungalook community nursery to achieve this outcome.

Project Update: The tree society has completed six site inspections and developed planting plans for the properties. Over one hundred plants have been ordered for planting in the gardens of four of these properties in autumn/winter of this year. The plants for two of the properties were planted in late spring last year. The largest impact will be produced by the planting of fifty indigenous and native plants, including fourteen trees, in the southern garden border of the Chinese Church, which shares a long boundary with 25 Holland Road.

Recognition for Local Environmental Advocates

David Inglis – Whitehorse Citizen of the Year 2018

David has been a member of the Wandinong Sanctuary Advisory Committee since 1974 and was the committee’s long-term treasurer until 2017. David attends monthly working bees and provides special attention to the plants in summer. David is also a long-serving member of the tree society. He has been a volunteer driver for the Eastern Transport Register and has also been involved in Neighbourhood Watch for more than 30 years. Congratulations David on being the Whitehorse Citizen of the Year for 2018.

Cecily Falkingham – Whitehorse Community Achievement Award for 2018

Cecily’s expertise as a naturalist has resulted in her playing important roles as advocate and teacher in environmental sustainability and protection for many years. She has been co-opted on to many environmental group committees and has worked closely with all tiers of government on environmental projects. Cecily leads nature walks of the Mullum Mullum Valley and continues to provide her expertise to land managers on conservation issues. Congratulations, Cecily, on your Whitehorse Community Achievement Award for 2018.

Anne Payne

Anne, currently the tree society secretary, is something of a community superstar in Whitehorse. She was Whitehorse Citizen of the Year in 2016 and has recently been featured in the March 2018 edition of the Whitehorse News. Anne is actively involved at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary as Chairman of the Advisory Committee and Visitor Centre, visitor centre volunteer coordinator and sanctuary education program volunteer. She is also an active volunteer for the Blackburn branch of the Red Cross and the Uniting Care East Burwood Centre. If this isn’t enough, Anne, along with Mary Crouch (see next article) and Amanda Simpson regularly work in McCubbin Park, Blackburn and the ‘Espe’ in Mitcham to preserve and enhance the bush remnants and keep the weeds at bay. Phew – no time to rest for Anne!

Mary Crouch

Friends and colleagues of tree society committee member and Treasurer Mary Crouch ‘ambushed’ her in the Creeklands during a working-bee a few weeks ago, on the occasion of her birthday. A surprise morning-tea was held to honour Mary – a tireless worker and advocate for the betterment of our local environment. Mary is so ecologically important that she lends herself to botanical description: Mary Crouch: A Rare Species

Description: Passionate advocate for the natural environment; decisive & task oriented; hard working and a great compadre

Size: None of your business!

Habitat: Dry & Valley Sclerophyll Forest

Form: Upright with grey-green foliage and indistinct flowers

Requirements: Loves remnant areas, but also thrives in weedy patches; tolerates soils drying out in summer and boggy in winter; a great companion for indigenous plants

Propagation: ‘One of a kind’, but early cloning trials are promising

Localities: Largely confined to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Blackburn, Mitcham and Nunawading), however, occasional sightings in Geelong and Jolimont, mainly in the winter months (subject takes on a bluish-white hue)

Distribution: Victoria only

ULE (Useful Life Expectancy): 100+ years

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund

The tree society urges all members to dig deep and make regular donations to the Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund. The Fund supports on-ground conservation activities and children’s environmental education programs in Whitehorse.

So far, in the 2017-2018 financial year, three environmental grants have been made available for planting indigenous plants, at Orchard Grove Primary School (Blackburn South), Masons Road Reserve (Blackburn) and in residential gardens surrounding 25 Holland Road in Blackburn South. Funding has also been pledged to support Council’s Gardens for Wildlife program for 2018.

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 Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society sponsors the Fund.

Western Highway Duplication near Ararat: Massive Tree and Habitat Loss planned by VicRoads and opposed by the Local and Wider Community

VicRoads is duplicating sections of the highway between Ballarat and Ararat. Local community environmental advocates argue that the chosen route from Buangor to Ararat will cause massive damage to the environment, an assertion supported by professional reports, including those from Ecology Australia, and from VicRoads’ own consultant, Biosis. Locals are proposing an alternative route, the ‘Northern Option’, that will result in much less environmental damage.

The VicRoads preferred route means:

• An estimated extra million cubic metres of earth disturbed during construction

• An extra flyover bridge

• More off-ramps, with traffic pushed onto quiet roads bordered by threatened ecological communities and vegetation, including significant trees

• 3.5 kilometres of exposed cutting high along a ridge-side, visible for fifty kilometres

• The loss of ninety-four Large Old Trees, four times more than on the community’s preferred route, and including one with a spectacular hollow.

• Greater loss of protected habitats (31.1 hectares), plant communities and remnant vegetation

• The creation of fragmented ‘islands’ of remnant vegetation

• The destruction of significant, heritage trees of local aboriginal cultural significance.

Despite professional evidence and public opposition, VicRoads is determined to proceed on the chosen route. Locals have already taken VicRoads to court, and at the eleventh hour the state Planning Minister stepped in to exempt the case from democratic process, under Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act.

The local environmental advocacy group has a website at: https://www.fixfreewayfiasco.org

The group is seeking donations, asking people to sign their petition and suggesting that the issue be publicized widely. The group hopes that VicRoads and the State Government will see the error of their ways and choose to use their ‘Northern Option’, thereby saving many large old trees and protected habitat.

Are you able to help them?

New Guidelines for the Removal, Destruction or Lopping of Native Vegetation

The State Government gazetted a planning amendment in December 2017 that adds a new reference document to local planning schemes.

One of the important inclusions in the new guidelines is that offset plantings (to compensate for native vegetation losses in any development) are required to be more local, which the tree society fully endorses. To quote from the guidelines:

‘Vicinity – The offset must be located within the same Catchment Management Authority boundary or municipal district as the native vegetation to be removed. This maintains a link between the location of the offset and the site of the native vegetation to be removed.’

Thanks to David Morrison, tree society member and BVRG Secretary, for referring this article to the committee.

Reforming the Victorian Planning Provisions – Tree Society Survey Response

The society completed a comprehensive on-line survey on the review and discussion paper for this initiative in November last year.

The society agrees that the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) documentation is lengthy, unwieldy and not user friendly in its current iteration. However any structural review that streamlines and simplifies the assessment pathways must not dilute the powers of Councils to preserve and enhance the unique neighbourhood and natural landscape character within their domains for the benefit of their residents.

This applies specifically in relation to provisions concerning the natural environment and landscape character.

The society considers that the VPP is pro-development and construction-driven, with scant regard for the preservation and enhancement of the natural landscape that form the interstices between built structures. We are losing our trees and canopy cover, vegetation and open spaces to the human-dominated built-form. This is already compromising quality of life issues for people living in urban areas and shows no signs of abatement. Any major review of the VPP must include tree and vegetation planning, preservation and enhancement provisions, including a meaningful requirement for the provision of adequate open spaces for passive recreational pursuits on private property and the provision of low-stress, high connectivity links for walkers and cyclists on land in the public domain. The tree society committee fears that the VPP reform initiative has a barely concealed objective of providing open slather to all types of inappropriate development in urban precincts.

The tree society is particularly concerned with the development and application of secondary dwelling and small lot standards and how they will impact on residential amenity and local landscape character. Tree canopy maintenance and enhancement is a crucial consideration here – trees need sufficient space to thrive.

The tree society is opposed to any review of the existing residential zones that dilute the current permit requirements for lot size permit triggers for the Schedules for Neighbourhood Residential Zones (NRZ1, NRZ2, NRZ3 and NRZ4) in the current Whitehorse Planning Scheme. Likewise the society opposes the dilution of the intent and function of the specific overlay provisions and Schedules with particular reference to Significant Landscape Overlays, Environmental Significance Overlays, Vegetation Protection Overlays and Heritage & Built Form Overlays.

Feedback Requested on the Victorian Local Government Bill Exposure Draft

The release of the Exposure Draft of the Victorian Local Government Bill marks the final stage of public consultation on the Local Government Act Review before the Bill enters the Parliament. The Draft Bill seeks to:

• Provide a better understanding of the role of Councils as democratically elected bodies

• Encourage Victorians to participate more as candidates, voters and citizens in council activities and contributing to Council strategic visions and plans

• Drive more autonomous and outcome focused Councils

• Encourage Councils to embrace innovative and collaborative arrangements that increase organisational efficiency and deliver public value for residents

• Provide a sound framework for the sector to become more efficient and enterprising in local governance.

The closing date for submissions has been extended to Friday 16 March at 5pm.

The tree society is in the process of developing a submission on behalf of the tree society. Councils, peak bodies and all other interested stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission and all submissions will inform the final drafting of the Bill.

There are three ways to make a submission

1. Online by uploading submissions to the http://www.yourcouncilyourcommunity.vic.gov.au website

2. Emailing submissions to local.government@delwp.vic.gov.au(External link)

3. Posting submissions to: Local Government Act Review Secretariat C/o Local Government Victoria, PO Box 500, Melbourne VIC 3002

2018 Mullum Mullum Festival

The 2018 Mullum Mullum Festival will be held on the week-ends of 28-29 April and 5-6 May. The first event, on the evening of 28th April will be a spotlighting walk led by Ray Gibson. This will be followed, on 29th April, by the official opening with Aboriginal workshops, music and displays at Yarran Dheran Reserve. There will also be nature walks with leaders who speak Mandarin and Arabic. Copies of the full program will be available in libraries and other public spaces in the near future.

Eileen McKee

The death of Life Member, Eileen McKee, took place in the first week of March, at the age of 95. Eileen will be remembered for her involvement in many enviromental activities over many years. A major involvement was as a staff member of the Victorian National Parks Association.

Future Cities: Planning for our Growing Population (Infrastructure Australia)

This paper, released in February 2018, is the fifth paper in Infrastructure Australia’s Reform Series. It provides advice to governments on improving the productivity and liveability of the largest cities including Melbourne and Sydney into the future. The paper compares the performance of three hypothetical scenarios for Melbourne by modelling their respective impacts on the performance of the city’s infrastructure. It provides evidence of the trade-offs that face Australia’s largest cities over the next 30 years, and presents an urban reform agenda for Australian governments.

See the full report plus interactive maps and downloads at: http://infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/policy-publications/publications/future-cities.aspx

A recent article in The Age provides an excellent introduction to the report’s findings and recommendations. Refer to ‘Melbourne’s Liveability Choice: Soar like Manhattan or Sprawl like LA’ at the following link: https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/melbourne-s-liveability-choice-soar-like-manhattan-or-sprawl-like-la-20180222-p4z1b5.html

The report’s Interactive Maps are especially informative, with predictions made on the impacts in five critical areas for three scenarios compared with the current (as of 2016) situation. The areas are:

• Changing demographics of Melbourne

• Performance of the transport network

• Access to jobs

• Access to and demand for social infrastructure

• Access to and demand for green space

The three 2046 hypothetical scenarios are:

1. Expanded Low Density (Expanded 2046)

• 40% greenfield / 60% infill development, with a focus on minimising growth in existing areas.

• Current economic geography of the city is maintained.

• Transport networks are expanded to better connect population in outer suburbs.

2. Centralised High Density (Centralised 2046)

• 20% greenfield / 80% infill development, with a focus on higher density in inner areas.

• Expanded CBD to take in inner suburbs.

• Better use of existing transport infrastructure by developing around existing nodes and tram lines in inner and middle suburbs.

3. Rebalanced Medium Density (Rebalanced 2046)

•30% greenfield / 70% infill development, with a focus on medium density in the west of the city.

• Growth of employment centres in the west.

• New transport infrastructure to support rebalancing to the west.

Each of the three scenarios differs, based on the following assumptions:

• The location of an additional 2.8 million people living in Melbourne, and the density and type of housing they live in.

• The location of the additional 1.6 million jobs.

• The structure of the transport network required to support each scenario’s different land-use patterns.

It is disturbing to note that for two important parameters concerning the tree society, i.e. Access to Green Space and Demand for Green Space, Whitehorse doesn’t fair well now compared to our neighbouring municipalities (with the exception of Monash). And it’s only going to get worse no matter which hypothetical scenario becomes the reality over the next thirty years. Whitehorse Council needs to become more proactive to preserve and enhance the green spaces in Whitehorse for the benefit of future generations.

Fighting for the Trees: The Story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc. (1959-2016)

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 to secure your copy. 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 Email Address

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

Email: Contact the tree society on mailto:bdtpsociety@gmail.com for all tree-related matters.

COMMITTEE Secretary Ann Clayton 9878 6585 Treasurer Mary Crouch 9894 3025 Members Anne Payne 9878 1152 David Berry 9890 7915 Les Smith 9874 2641

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.