Friday, December 31, 2010

Sydney Green Space

I love the impact that parks can have on you when walking through a major capital city, even small pocket parks....they have the capacity to transport your mind away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis to a more reflective place.

I think that Sydney's Hyde Park is one such space, like its name sake in London it sits within the heart of the city...and every time I have visited that there have been many people making use of the green amenity provided by the lawns garden beds and trees.

The real value of these places is beginning to be recognised by local government and the general public. Movements like 'Healthy Parks, Healthy People' in Victoria are delivering the critical message about the intrinsic link between our access to green spaces and the maintenance of our physical and mental well being.

It is unfortunate that there still are a few people (including some Arborists) who seem unable to grasp the significance and value of green space in our urban environment.

Every city in Australia is facing increasing demands and pressure on the available space, urban infill, transport upgrades (both vehicular and pedestrian) are factors that result in less space to grow trees.

Green spaces like Hyde Park, and the Centennial Parklands are unique places, by virtue of their size they are able to deliver huge recreational benefits to residents and visitors alike.
Centennial Parklands
But the benefits from 'green exposure' can be gained even if the that green is limited to the street fact street trees (and their canopies) can have an enormous impact on phenomena such as the heat island effect.

Street Figs opposite the Sydney Football Stadium

Long term planning is essential in the management of these growing assets, and as previously pointed out the competition for space both above and below ground is getting ever more intense in all our cities.

Local government in the city of Sydney does seem to have more developed management plans than a great many other places I have visited. I do worry however that an unjustified (IMO) emphasis on percieved risk from larger established trees has been presented to the general public as the rational for tree management in a number of high profile locations...Hyde Park being one. 

Within such a dense urban environment there are no easy solutions to the competing demands placed on Local Government resources...many of the initiatives being followed in Sydney are a great improvement on what has gone before.

I do not think assessable risk justifies removing and replacing almost all the Hill's figs in Hyde Park...there may well have been a small number of trees which were so severely comromised that removal was entirely appropriate but it would seem unlikely (in the extreme) that all the tree removed thus far fell into that category. Nor have I ever been convinced by the spurious suggestion that an (IMO) improperly applied and highly subjective assessment of Safe Useful Life Expectancy (SULE) should have any bearing on decisions regarding these trees.  

The iconic avenue of Hills Figs at Hyde Park Sydney

That having been said, I do think that it is appropriate for the City of Sydney to develop long term plans for all their public trees and green spaces....and it would be incredible if those plans matched all of my own preferrences.

The impressive Anzac Memorial Hyde Park redevelopment

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