Letters / Trees, please, but no untidy gums

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Canberra suburban trees with a glorious, shady canopy. Photo: Paul Costigan

“At least 90 per cent of Belconnen residents I have questioned over the last few years do not support the government’s obsession with continually planting gum trees,” says letter writer JUSTINE LANGDON, of Cook.  

COOK’S streets likely require at least 500 of the 17,000 trees the government is promising to plant over the next four years. 

The original gum trees have continued to die and many residents seem infatuated with covering the now empty grass verges with scoria gravel. The heat island effect is awful. Even a 26C day makes for an unpleasantly hot walk to the local shops. 

So, please, come and fill in the gaps, but not with gum trees. I don’t think I am alone in this thought. At least 90 per cent of Belconnen residents I have questioned over the last few years do not support the government’s obsession with continually planting gum trees. 

They are untidy as they drop leaves and bark all year round and their nutrient-sucking roots mean that no other shrubs or even grass can grow under them. Some people mentioned that in buying their house, they actively sought a property with no gum trees. 

As an example, last year the government planted about 40 new gum trees along Hennessy Street in Belconnen. They did not consult with the adjoining home owners who were going to inherit the job of clearing their gutters and courtyards on a weekly basis. 

Not surprisingly, the trees all disappeared in the first eight weeks. What a waste of ratepayers’ money. 

You see, most of us want the dense, low-canopy and cooling effect that only deciduous trees offer on a hot day. This is why Dickson (where the Chief Minister lives) and other areas fortunate enough to have such lovely trees are so wonderful to be in on a hot summer’s day. 

Gum trees are not a useful street tree. They survive our incredible environment because their leaves hang vertically in the heat of the day, which offers less shade and limited cooling effect. Their canopy also increases in height over time meaning that they no longer provide the equivalent amount of shade on the street and footpaths as that offered by a deciduous tree. Keep them for secondary plantings along major roads, pathways in parks and in our nature parks.

As an avid walker I place a high value on street trees, but I know a lot of people don’t. How else can you explain why so many sections of our suburbs are so lacking in decent shade? 

Perhaps an educational piece in the Chief Minister’s next glossy update is required, highlighting that even at Icon Water’s higher tier 2 rate, the cost to homeowners of pouring 50 litres of water a week on a street tree equates to less than $15 a year. 

This might make home owners recognise that the small cost of maintaining a deciduous tree lined street is far outweighed by the benefits of natural cooling and active travel offered to local residents – not to mention the significant increase they would reap in the value of their property. 

Justine Langdon, Cook

Active travellers left in the lurch

GERDINA Bryant laments the impact of the ACT Greens’ focus and platforms for change (Letters, CN, July 2).  

The  ACT Greens MLAs also need to show how they are working to ensure that the current light rail set up, that they wanted so badly, can accommodate more easily both the volume of passengers living in the inner-north and also those who wish to bring their bicycles on board. They also share responsibility for ensuring timely follow-up transport network improvements across Canberra, including more efficient and reliable light rail/bus connections, far fewer cancelled bus services, improved weather protection at platforms, bus stops and interchanges, and upgraded footpaths and lighting.  

While the Labor/Greens government is quick to assist car users by funding and building more park-and-ride compounds near rail stops in Gungahlin, and to boast about how the light rail project came in under budget, essential and well-planned spending to promote and encourage all forms of efficient “active travel” is lagging well behind.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Power of the written word

THE marketing people at ActewAGL have gone ballistic. Last week I received seven A4 size pages and a booklet about its services etcetera, etcetera. 

In all it amounted to about 17,000 words. Why they were sent was not made clear. 

I rang the inquiry number and spent 15 minutes pointing out to the woman who answered a number of opaque statements in the documents. 

She checked all my records and, in conclusion, told me there was nothing for me to do except pay the next bill, and that what I had received was really of no import. 

We were promised a paperless society!

Colliss Parrett, Barton 

They’re no longer refugees

FURTHER to Jon Stanhope’s column (CN, June 22), the norm is that people claiming refugee status, claim it in the first country they arrive in after leaving the country they say they are fleeing from. 

The refugees arriving in Australia have, in the main, come through other countries such as Indonesia. This means they are no longer refugees. The people coming here in boats are economic migrants and they are breaking the law by trying to come into Australia illegally. This is why they are kept on Manus and Nauru. 

It is very sad that on Manus and Nauru there are crimes against these people such as rape and beatings, but they are doing it to their own. So what would they do if we let the perpetrators into Australia?

Vi Evans via email


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