I was just settling in to working at home this morning when I had a phone call. One friend had been on her way to work by train when she saw two more massive trees about to be felled nearby. She called home and her partner contacted me asking if I could offer backup at the site while she tried to contact the Council. My friends are awesome. I felt proud as I stood in support. I have to say I feel so heartbroken at present I left most of the speaking to them and supplied moral support, numbers and hugs.
So I went over. These two spotted gums (E Maculata) are standing far more than the 10 metres away from any dwelling that would make them exempt from tree protection legislation. I include the blokes in high visibility clothing for scale. Well, we didn’t let these trees go without a fight, contacting the Council, a local councillor, our State MP, the local newspaper… and so on, while holding respectful conversations with the men who were there to take the trees down. It took some time to ascertain with confidence that the property owner needed, and had, a permit to fell them. As events unfolded it became apparent that Council had recommended the application be refused and that this matter had gone to the Development Assessment Panel and been refused three times, finally being being approved on the fourth attempt, after 3 rejections. I guess by now we know both that the 2011 changes to tree protection laws have removed many of the barriers to removal of trees like these, and that DAP is not a great protection either.
These trees stand opposite the Goodwood Railway station and shade it in summer. Rosellas and magpies were flying in and out of them as we spoke with the tree fellers in person and various other people by phone. Of course, their proximity to the station also means the trees are standing in a small patch where hundreds of trees have been lost in the last few years and the roar of chainsaws has been a recurrent, powerful, appalling theme. Friends came past on their way to work or from the shops or walking their dogs, expressing their sorrow, regret and anger. One woman from my street, evidently feeling as heartbroken and unbelieving as I was, said: ‘I have to admit, I don’t like living here anymore.’
Those birds won’t be able to live here anymore. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for any sign of the promised revegetation of our area. We have, however, been supplied with mulch. Where once stood 20 trees, in just one patch I know well, we now have this.
I try hard not to think about where the chainsaws were roaring to create that mulch.