Summary of inner south residents group activities relating to trees, streetscapes and open space

Street trees in Canberra Compiled by Audrey H. Edwards

A key finding of the ISCCC’s online survey in 2019/20 was that inner south residents value most highly our streetscapes and open spaces. By streetscapes, we mean the street trees, vegetation, gardens and width of streets. By open spaces, we mean the parks, ovals and bushland for recreation.

 The ISCCC is acting on these findings. As a first step, we have created this dedicated page and attached summary of what inner south residents groups are doing currently with respect to trees, streetscapes and open spaces, and related issues.

Summary of inner south residents group activities relating to trees, streetscapes and open space

 Deakin Residents Association (DRA) – oak trees have been dying at the Deakin shops. In response to DRA advocacy, the Transport and City Services Minister arranged for the ACT Government to pay for a tanker to source water from the lake to water the oaks. The DRA was unsuccessful in its application for an Adopt-a-Park grant to rejuvenate La Trobe Park, but is planning to go ahead anyway, and there is a La Trobe Park action group. Rosemary Dodson Park also needs better maintenance and residents near the park are engaged actively. There needs to be better integration with the good work of the Red Hill Regenerators.

Forrest Residents Group (FRG) – a small group of Forrest residents monitors and looks after local trees. In 2017-18, they organised the replacement of dead trees and addition of many new ones in Collins Park and elsewhere. With the assistance of the ACT Government, including through engagement with Canberra Girls Grammar School, parking is no longer permitted on the Melbourne Avenue median strip, with fines payable for non-compliance. A new regime for student drop-offs and pick-ups has been introduced and appears to be working well. The median strip’s trees have been mulched comprehensively and watering will occur regularly.

Some recreation areas for children have been lost since the Forrest Primary School was fenced next to the new Estate development on State Circle, and the school oval is not always open to the public. The largest open space still available is Collins Park, which lacks facilities such as basketball hoops and was never intended to be a playground. There are concerns that the Canberra Bowling Club site on Hobart Avenue (built 1926) may be sold to a developer, leading to the loss of another area of open space, although the impact could be mitigated if a wide area of planting is included around the borders. The Tennis Club has converted part of its tennis facilities to pay parking on an impervious surface. New multi-unit developments are contributing to a loss of space for tree planting.

Griffith Narrabundah Community Association (GNCA) – The GNCA is active in three Griffith parks, and in street tree issues, as well as one-off issues such as efforts to save the plane tree in Franklin Street, Manuka, and to improve the treescape and park outcome at the Stuart Flats redevelopment site. The Griffith Woodland group, supported by GNCA and the Red Hill Regenerators, aims to preserve rare remnant grasses and trees in the woodland (located between La Perouse Street and Jansz Crescent). They planted 300 plants in spring 2019 but unfortunately many died in summer. Another group supported by the GNCA focuses on Blaxland Park near the Griffith shops. Vandals had chopped down trees in that park, but this problem was addressed by installing wire protection around the trees. A third group is being set up to help maintain the oval next to the Amaya apartment complex in Austin Street. With respect to street trees, the biggest issue is parking by builders and tradespeople on verges, and the GNCA has been advocating for years for better enforcement of laws banning parking on nature strips.

Kingston and Barton Residents Group (KBRG) – many trees were planted in the 1920s, including by Weston. The KBRG considered that registration of trees would help protect them, and has taken such action. Body corporates in some apartment blocks are cutting down trees on their open space and it is hard to find out if such action is authorised. The KBRG has compiled a step-by-step guide on what to do in such cases. Even registered trees have been chopped down when people may not have been aware they were registered. There may be value in emulating Sydney northern beaches council regulations, which require a public notification period and the use of tree contractors licensed by the local council.

Kingston and Barton experience problems with illegal parking on street verges because of major events at Manuka Oval and demand for drop-off and pick-up parking near Telopea School and the childcare centre, causing compaction of soil around street trees. The KBRG is aiming to establish a Telopea Park group and has been awarded a small Adopt-a-Park grant to assist with this. There is a major problem with illegal parking at Kingston Oval and with maintenance of registered trees at other sites such as near the Glassworks.

Old Narrabundah Community Council (ONCC) – the ONCC has undertaken a great deal of Landcare work over the years. The ONCC would like to see an accessible pathway established between Narrabundah and the Jerrabomberra Wetlands. It would also like to see temporary buildings at Narrabundah College removed and the open space returned to its previous use as an oval. The ONCC is concerned about noxious weeds on Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive. It is concerned also about the arbitrary cutting down of significant trees and loss of trees generally on redeveloped blocks, with almost all open space covered by concrete. Planting area is often covered by weed mat and bark, with perhaps only a tiny tree planted. Most such trees died during the dry spring and summer (2019/20). It is a serious problem in Narrabundah because of the large number of old weatherboard houses that are considered by developers to be ripe for redevelopment.

 Yarralumla Residents Association (YRA) – has an agreement with the ACT Government covering a YRA volunteer team (6-8 people currently) that prunes trees in central Yarralumla. That agreement has expanded now to include tree planting and maintenance. The volunteers are also helping Yarralumla Primary School with tree/hedge maintenance on their boundary, and have built a greenhouse for the school. The National Capital Authority has removed hundreds of senescent pine trees at Stirling Park on Hopetoun Circuit, and YRA has negotiated to obtain a significant amount of mulch to place around trees in central Yarralumla, including the school. A Friends of Grasslands (FOG) Group involving Yarralumla residents and others maintains Stirling Park.

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