Urban trees suffer as we struggle to find a place for Australia’s growing population.
How much do our trees cost us? According to Melbourne City Council, they can cost as much as 62,000 each.
The real value of trees in a city cannot be determined by putting a dollar price on them.
Our future cities would be unlivable without urban woodlands.
People need trees; trees need people.
Australia’s cities have a good amount of trees; they are more like woodlands than forests. The interaction between trees and people has led to the formation of these urban woodlands.
The trees can attract people to plant them, care for them, or sneak them into places without anyone noticing. Some trees survive the transition from a natural forest to suburban areas.
Our relationship with trees, however, is not always simple.
People ruthlessly remove some trees, but others are sacrificed. The interdependence between trees and humans means that if we wish to have more or less trees in our urban areas, we must know how both people and trees influence each other.
The density of trees in Australia’s cities and suburbs increased dramatically in the past half-century.
In 1961, there were 26 trees for every hectare in the eastern Australian suburb garden. In 2006, this number had risen to 85. The number of street trees has increased from one in every two gardens to four in every five parks. We want trees.
Most city dwellers will tell you that they plant trees for the beauty, wildlife, and “the environment” when asked. Few people mention the fact that trees save cities more money than they cost.
We choose urban trees that will help us to maintain a healthy environment in our cities. Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer and sun during winter in towns that have cold winters and warm summers. In the subtropics and tropics, evergreen trees with dense crowns provide shade in all seasons.
Different tastes are killing our trees
Australians are almost unanimous in their praise of the beauty of trees. Opinions vary widely on the beauty and usefulness of trees.
Our attitudes to trees are affected by many factors, including our ability to garden, our desire to grow native plants, our love for food produced at home, and our fondness for flowers. Trees also have their say. Some species are more suited to certain environments than others and may not be happy where they’re planted.
It may be good for bird diversity if different birds attract to different types of gardens. Many native species rely on urban woodlands for their survival.
In Australia, neighbors rarely share the same gardens or trees. Changes in ownership often lead to the replacement of one tree type by another. Tree lovers kill most trees in the city for aesthetic reasons.
Constantly removing and replacing trees is wasteful. The old, large trees are very fortunate to have survived many changes in ownership or one owner for a long time. These trees give us a sense of place, and they are important habitats for birds and possums.
We should protect our old trees and divert water away from industrial waste. We should encourage the domestic production of fruit, vegetables, and nuts.
Building freeways that are useless in the future when oil runs out is not a good idea. We must not ruin the beauty, productivity, and amenity of our inner and mid-suburbs through urban consolidation.