Letters / Contempt for our trees

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THANK you for Paul Costigan’s column “The neglect and shame of our mistreated trees” (CN, February 14). I do not usually respond to news articles however in this instance I was so pleased to read this article as it drew attention to this ongoing issue.

I have lived for more than 60 years in Canberra and when I was a child growing up here Canberra was referred to as the “City of Trees”. The expression “Bush Capital” seemed to creep in much later.

I have to say that I am appalled by the way the ACT government has no respect for public opinion let alone Canberra’s public trees.

Over the years I have seen contempt for our trees within the government. I have seen trees in public car parks where they laid bitumen right up and around the trunks of the beautiful, big old trees that were far older than me, and then cut them down as diseased, some years later when the poor, old trees were succumbing to dehydration from a lack of water that they so required for survival.

I did let the Stanhope government know at the time that the bitumen needed to be cut back from the base of the tree trunks to allow rain to penetrate to the roots for the trees to survive, however nothing happened and the trees succumbed to being chopped down.

I also ventured at that time to let authorities in the Parliamentary Triangle know that some large, old trees at the side of the Treasury Building and across the road from the National Library were in strife because the ground around the big tree trunks was being trampled and compacted and the surface roots damaged by the general public as they got on and off the buses to cross the road to come and go to the library.

I suggested putting a circular metal grid around the base of the trees as is done in so many cities around the world to protect their tree roots and allow for water to penetrate the soil, however it was never done.

It seems that here in Canberra our public trees can only be seen to live 25 years maximum before they are removed. In large and small cities the world over they have trees that have been respected and live anywhere up to 200 years.

It is so sad that the ACT government has said that they want Canberra to be just like the major cities of the world. However, what they are thinking of is big, unplanned, concrete jungles and not of the beautiful planned city of trees that we have or should I say had.

Luckily, in the past we had government figures and contractors who had the foresight to keep our city as a clean garden city, a legacy for us. This current ACT government seems to want to destroy our legacy quickly and without much foresight as they walk hand-in-hand accommodating themselves and the developers.

Susan Maroc, via email

Limits of student clothing options

I’M sure many teachers would agree with Anna Owen, principal of Canberra Girls Grammar School (“The Owen Principle”, CN, February 21) that the welfare of society turns on the advancement of young women.

Being inclusive, most teachers would also include young men in that philosophy.

Many private schools often do girls and young women a disservice if they limit clothing options for their students.

I’ve been in education for a while. It is well known from university research in primary and high schools, that providing limited choices of clothing options for girls and young women not only limits their ability to equally participate in school activities, but has a negative impact on girls’ activity levels generally (Norrish, Farringdon, Bulsara & Hands, 2012; Stanley, Boshoff, & Dollman, 2012).

It’s equally well known, this century at least, that being active at school promotes wellbeing and health for all students and should be encouraged at every opportunity, not just in PE lessons or sports days. I do hope this will be one of Anna’s “gentle and careful corrections”.

For some private schools to think otherwise and prevaricate in providing greater choices for clothing options for girls and young women indicates a thinking more worthy of 100 years ago.

Robert Doyle, Bonner

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