Sunday, July 17, 2005

Leaf the trees alone

A sad indignity. Just a few days ago it was a gracious and grand old tree, a vast spread of lush shade and home to who knows what birds, possums, insects, arachnids. Suddenly, today, it is decapitated - a great big stump with severe amputations whence boughs once reached. Looking at its huge girth, I would have imagined that it qualified as a heritage tree. But these heritage definitions are flexible, if a developer wants the land on which a tree grows. Suddenly the tree is dangerous and sick. Then it is gone and there is just sunbleaching, bland sky.
The public has a short memory. It accepts change because change is constant.
But I go on missing the profiles of trees in the city. Driving every morning through Hindmarsh Square I look for the huge pines which once gave character to the square. They were suddenly gone one day - and no one seemed to notice.
I drive up the Parade and daily I am made happy by the row of mighty ironbarks on its median. Such exquisite trees which have grown fast and strong in a mere decade or so and now attract a technicolour dangle of parrots. These trees are the pride of Norwood - but for how long? Any minute we will be told that their roots upset someone's plumbing, or may be lethal if a car loses control and mounts the median. Any excuse will do. I am pessimistic. I know it is inevitable. The more beautiful the tree, the more endangered it is.
Our city's cultural boulevard has been raped of its old trees in the name of progress. Now the once handsome terrace is barren and shadeless. Our children's children will know shade there when the baby plantings grow. If the tree-lopping obsession has not taken hold again.
There is talk of felling all trees which grow close to country roads - since several fatalities have occurred with people driving into them in the dim hours. It seems to be the trees' fault, never the drivers who were probably tired, speeding or drunk. And now the campaign is up and running. Trees must go. Trees are dangerous. Trees are bad. Down with trees.
In this land of harsh sun, in the land which leads the world in melanoma, and in a time when carbon credits are supposed to be a plan against a greenhouse future, this is all nothing less than dumb.

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