Significant Tree Register – City of Baywsater

A lovely house with a truly magnificent tree.  Certainly a significant tree. Somewhat ironic that the house which bears the negatives of the tree (perceived and real) receives the benefits of the shade, but the main beneficiaries are the streets surrounding the property which are able to view the tree in its splendour.  So how can the tree be protected so that the hundreds of houses surrounding it can continue to benefit?

The council recently over-turned an Officer’s recommendation for a voluntary Significant Tree Register on private land. As someone who has been pushing for a STR for a number of years, this was disappointing to me. However many things have taken a few attempts – recording council meeting took three attempts, and the utilisation of the Water Corp land on Russell St, next to Bunnings, took six years. So I’m not despondent, in fact there are some benefits. If only 3 Cr’s could see the benefits of a voluntary STR, I’d say that the community at large is likely not supportive. Ergo, the next time it comes back to council, a better job needs to be done to “sell” the concept. And maybe the carrot needs to be the focus, and not a perceived stick.

From a pragmatic perspective, it is important to acknowledge the negatives that trees cause households.

1. Cost

I drive past the tree in the picture every day when I drop the kids off to school. I was very concerned to see men with chainsaws and a cherry picker a few weeks ago. Fortunately the next day I discovered that they were there just to prune the branches getting too close to power lines. How much would this have cost them though? Surely the thought of simply removing the tree must have crossed their mind.

Strategy 1 – Perhaps when a tree has been entered on a future STR, the City then takes responsibility for any required pruning – whether to maintain the health or due to proximity to power lines.

2. Leaf litter

I don’t particularly like this term as leaves can provide excellent mulch, however as someone who has a large liquid amber, I can attest that leaves can be a royal pain. Especially when they get in the gutters.

Strategy 2 – Perhaps when a household nominates their tree to be on a future STR, the City offers to pay 50% of the cost to install gutter guards.

3. Roots

Roots can be a problem, they can damage walls, buildings, driveways and probably even worse, underground pipes.

Strategy 3 – Perhaps the City provides advice, or even does the job, on any root guards, or cutting of roots.

4. Impact on development

A tree can sometimes be positioned in a spot which negatively impacts house extensions, or sub-division potential.

Strategy 4 –  Perhaps when a landowner proposes to retain tree canopy (especially if listed on a future STR), the local government needs to grant significant concessions on the planning rules. And vice-versa.

Strategies like the above would hopefully turn the concept of having a tree listed in a future STR as a positive; not a negative. I will be raising the STR at council in November. Three of the councillors who voted against a voluntary STR on private land are not re-contesting at the election, so there may be three new Cr’s who support it regardless of any strategies. My hope is that by utilising strategies like the above, some of the existing Cr’s who voted against, will change their mind. Naturally the financial burden on ratepayers needs to be determined; that is what the Officer’s will assess and report back to council after a notice of motion has been submitted.

I’d be interested in your thoughts, so please feel free to comment below.

Power to the People

(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater.)

ps. To the owner of the house pictured; thank you for not cutting the tree down.

———————————————– Update ———————————————-

I submitted the motion again, as there had been a change in Councillors, and on the 30th April 2019 Council voted in support of introducing a Significant Tree Register on private land.