Guest Blog – Bye Bye Leafy Lane Cove

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Tonight on our blog, we have invited Corinne Fisher to provide some information on the recent changes to removing trees in Lane Cove (Code 10/50).  Corinne is a Lane Cove resident and outgoing President of the Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society she is also co-founder of Lane Cove Bush Kids.  The LCBK was formed to connect local children and their families to nature through fortnightly activities held in Lane Cove Bushland.  She was recently awarded a Pride of Australia medal.

corine fisher

As I returned a few days ago from dropping my oldest girl at school, a big mulcher was standing opposite our little townhouse.

Another tree going, this time right next to me.

Have you ever watched the process of a tree you love being cut down?

I watched, heartbroken, as a 30 yr old, healthy gum was chopped down and turned into mulch in less than 3 hours. No warning.  No replacement.

In 10 weeks, the Lane Cove municipality has lost almost 215 trees on private property, some of them 100 year old eucalypts and angophoras. And those are just the ones we know about and have been able to document.

I am left wondering: How many more trees will we lose over the years if this continues? What will Lane Cove look like then?

On 1 August 2014, the NSW Government introduced a new piece of legislation known as ‘Code 10/50’. The intention of Code 10/50 is to minimise property loss due to bushfire.  However, this one-size-fits-all approach, which treats suburban areas such as Lane Cove the same way it does the Blue Mountains, is being abused for reasons that have nothing to do with bushfire.

Whether a landowner can legally cut trees on their property under Code 10/50 is entirely dependent on self-assessment – there is no requirement to notify anyone and no monitoring system in place. Neither is there a requirement to show that the decision to cut the tree will in any way reduce the risk of property loss due to bushfire.

In recent weeks, we have seen several examples of individuals, who may be planning to redevelop their property,  using Code 10/50.  Given the extent of current and scheduled development in Lane Cove and surrounds, this is concerning.

Trees might be cut down for other reasons too: to improve views, get rid of troublesome leaves or remove perceived (but not always actual) danger. No matter the reason, the cumulative impact on our neighbourhoods of these decisions is already starting to be felt.

Leafy Lane Cove

Although there are some restrictions, Code 10/50 overrides all tree preservation orders, as well as NSW threatened species legislation. Even tree loppers have been shocked by the impacts of the Code. One of them said to me: ‘This is going to change Sydney.’

However, while many of us have concerns about Code 10/50, some people have clearly welcomed the opportunity to cut trees on their property. And to them, this makes sense: it’s their house, their property, their land, so why should they not be allowed to do what they want with it?

Well, the reality is that what most of us value most about Lane Cove – even those very people who choose to cut down their trees, is its beautiful leafy nature.

This is an essential component of what makes Lane Cove what it is today and it didn’t happen just by accident.

Over decades, our community fought hard to conserve small pockets of bushland and encourage the planting of trees on public and private property. This has created the environment we enjoy today.

While some people might not want trees on their property (for whatever reason), it’s important they realise that Code 10/50 doesn’t only apply to them – it applies to their neighbours too. In fact it applies to most of Lane Cove and surrounds.

A large proportion of trees in Lane Cove are located on private land so what happens if a lot of landowners decide to cut down their trees? It’s bye bye leafy Lane Cove.

This is the prospect we are currently facing – if we do nothing.

But we can do something.

In fact, we are the only ones who can make a difference.

If you feel strongly about this, please voice your concerns and send a short email to the responsible Minister, Minister Ayres, asking for an exemption from the Code for suburban areas such as Lane Cove.  This is the Email address for the Minister [email protected]

crane

The information and views set out in this blog are those of the author  and may or may not reflect the opinion of ITC . ITC will not be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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