Unley’s trees

by Anne Wharton

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Unley Council is attempting to come up with ideas to stop the loss of canopy cover and especially significant trees on private land. We know that this loss is happening all over Adelaide. Recently Dr Jennifer Gardner and Marian McDuie appeared on Gardening Australia in relation to research they have done on 1200 trees in the Waite Arboretum. The research calculates a value for the trees by assessing the environmental benefits of each tree (carbon stored), its size, species, location and age, to give each tree a financial value, in the hope this dollar value will make trees more appreciated.

Unley resident and SCSA member, Pat Wundersitz, has recently written an excellent letter to Unley Deputy Mayor Michael Hewitson. Here is her letter:

I am interested in retaining tree cover in Unley, as I have spent quite a deal of my life planting, revegetating and caring for remnant vegetation here in South Australia and also in Tasmania when I lived there. I feel it is important for not only supporting suburban wildlife, but maintaining good mental health of our citizens, and mitigating changes to local weather conditions. Trees are our natural air conditioners: cooling us in summer by up to 5 degrees, retaining heat in winter, and lessening effects of wind around our built environs.

Unley has done some wonderful plantings in the streetscapes and the program to divert runoff on to the street trees is an excellent idea. Then we have the problem of new developments and infill. This is where we all labour to find solutions. If Council could implement a program to give publicity to new constructions where existing trees are incorporated into the design, offering wide media coverage of any suitable designs and maybe offering some certificate of excellence, then the public perception could be changed to a new way of thinking. Publishing in architectural, sustainable housing, Unley Life and other avenues, where people are looking for new concepts and ideas, are some of the areas which could prove useful. Unley could lead the way, with a standard of excellence. I will cite two examples.

I looked at a new house on Fisher Street, with a new dwelling located straight across the block behind a strong healthy eucalypt, or it was. I do not know the reason for its demise. Now one or two sad leaves hang on the lower branches, and birds are perched in the dead upper storey. I could envision the tree forming part of a courtyard, with the tree offering wonderful shade in summer, as the house faced north, and the house framing the tree in its construction. When I visited Opey Avenue recently (mooted for a 7 storey development on Unley Road), I looked at the wonderful eucalypts bordering the road and building alignments, and thought there was a wonderful chance to build new constructions around those magnificent trees.

We need to be proud of our trees and value them as part of our heritage. Work done at Waite Arboretum by Dr Jennifer Gardner and Marian McDouie shows the value of some of the old established trees at Waite. The value to the community of these trees – $13 million.

Another thought, that perhaps when development applications come in requiring cutting down of street trees, efforts should be made to change plans, rather than cut down trees, which take years to then develop their potential for habitat, shade and visual amenity. After all, the trees belong to the City of Unley and residents, not to one land owner.

I await with interest the approach the City of Unley takes to the recent good reports by Kat Ryan and Ben Willsmore, environment staff of Unley Council.

Pat Wundersitz

We urge others to share their ideas on how to save mature trees.

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