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 contact@levelcrossings.vic.gov.au or telephone 1800 762 667.


  • Email the Whitehorse Leader on this issue. The contact journalist is Paddy Naughtin (email naughtin@news.com.au ).
  • 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: www.facebook.com/theblackburnsolution


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 eastern_projects@roads.vic.gov.au

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

Letter to Council re Tree and Vegetation Controls

January 2015

Dear Whitehorse Councillor

Re: Tree and Vegetation Controls for Whitehorse

Whitehorse City Council is to be applauded for considering the introduction of citywide tree and vegetation protection controls (Whitehorse Leader 15th December 2014).

The credit for this initiative goes to Cr Daw for putting a Motion to council late last year calling for whole-of-Whitehorse tree and vegetation controls in addition to the licensing of tree loppers and increasing the fines for unauthorised tree removal.

A council officer report to council’s December meeting estimated that the cost of introducing and managing the vegetation controls citywide would be around $600,000 per year.

This figure must be placed in context.

Whitehorse ratepayers provided council with $94M in the 2014-15 Budget, a 5% (i.e.~$5M) increase on the 2013-14 Budget.

The estimated cost of citywide vegetation controls at $600K seems a small price to pay for an immediate and ongoing improvement in the natural assets of the city and the quality of life for Whitehorse citizens.

This figure is modest when compared with the budgeted costs for many projects in the 2014-15 budget papers including:

  • The city’s 20th anniversary celebrations were held in November 2014 at a budgeted cost of $143K – see page 13
  • Refurbishment of the Surrey Park Swim Clubrooms, the Kalang Park and Mont Albert Reserve pavilions (budgeted cost of $2.45M for the three projects) – see page 17 of the budget papers
  • Playground upgrades ($820K) – page 39
  • Sports Ground Renewal Program ($460K) – page 39
  • Box Hill Gardens management plan implementation ($452K) – page 19
  • In addition Council has spent over $40 million on the refurbishment of Aqualink Box Hill over recent years and has budgeted to spend a further $450K in the 2014-15 budget (see pages 99 and 107) as well as $200K for works at the Nunawading Aquatic Centre (see pages 99 and 104 of the budget papers).

The projects listed above are all worthy of receiving ratepayer funding, however the tree society contends that a $600K annual spend on protecting and enhancing the city’s natural assets held in private ownership by means of citywide tree and vegetation protection controls is a wise investment.

Why is there no mention of the value (or even an inventory) of the city’s natural assets including trees and other vegetation within the Budget papers – both in private or public ownership? All! other council/community assets are listed, valued and managed e.g. community buildings and facilities, roads and drainage infrastructure. The city’s natural assets are what defines Whitehorse and as such they should be afforded a $ 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. One such valuation is via the modified Burnley Tree Evaluation method, which values a healthy 6F10 metre high amenity tree (e.g. a Blackwood – Acacia melonoxylon) in the $10-20,000 range. This $ value doesn’t account for the habitat value, shade and cooling characteristics, oxygen production, CO2 uptake or carbon storage capabilities of the tree which should add more ‘economic value’ to the tree.

The proposed tree controls will prohibit the indiscriminate and widespread practice of tree and vegetation removal from private properties, including the current, wholesale ‘moonscaping’ or complete clearing of residential development sites throughout the city. This blight on the city’s natural amenity has accelerated over recent years and, unless stopped by regulation and education will threaten the ‘green and leafy’ status of Whitehorse and the quality of life for every resident.

Trees (and all types of vegetation, indigenous or otherwise) have long been appreciated for their aesthetic, environmental and habitat values. They also 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.

There has been a rapid decline of canopy trees in non-Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO) areas (and even within SLO precincts) of Whitehorse over the past 5 years in the name of residential infill development. A bleak future is guaranteed if global warming continues as predicted with trees and vegetation crucial in mitigating climate change. We need more trees not less and it’s time for council to take the decision to place vegetation controls over the entire city as soon as possible.

It will be argued by some that the implementation of citywide vegetation controls will erode the individual rights of landowners to make decisions about trees and vegetation on their properties. The tree society believes that suburbs that have had tree controls for years (e.g. Blackburn, Mitcham and Vermont) have benefited greatly and now have much better natural landscape character compared with other suburbs. There has been widespread acceptance of tree and vegetation controls by residents of these suburbs.

Properly constituted and administered tree and vegetation protection controls, along with relevant resident education programs (such as the council initiative to employ a Tree Education Officer in the Planning Department) will not only reverse the decline of tree numbers in ‘green & leafy’ Whitehorse but will enhance the natural amenity of the city, the results of which will become obvious in a few short years.
The tree society committee and member urge all councillors to support recurrent funding for the extension of tree and vegetation controls throughout Whitehorse.

Yours sincerely

David Berry