The health of our urban environment effects the health of the community. Preserving and expanding the urban tree canopy has been a strong focus during my time on Council. We already know the benefits of living amongst trees. Aside from their aesthetic value and their positive effect on air quality, trees in urban environments also play a huge role in combatting climate change. Days of high heat put huge pressure on our electricity system through the use of air conditioners and other cooling systems. Roads and buildings act like heat sinks which carry the heat long into the evening after the sun has set. Studies have shown that having trees, other plants and gardens can play a big role in keeping our urban environment cooler and lowering the demand for energy.
The City of Sydney and much of greater Sydney is being placed under huge pressure from the growing population. The NSW Government has shown great enthusiasm for rapidly expanded housing right across the city. It is critical that the community is allowed genuine input into these changes. Developers can have a huge impact on our streetscapes. New developments often come at a cost to neighbouring tenants when local trees are unnecessarily removed. Currently there are 57 trees marked for removal as part of new developments in Ashmore Estate, Erskineville. During my terms on Council I have kept a close eye on the removal of healthy trees and fought to retain them where possible.
Recently inner Sydney has lost a high number of trees as part of the construction of major state government projects. The historic fig trees that once lined Hickson Road have been removed as part of the Barangaroo development. Just outside the City of Sydney, Centennial Park has also lost fig trees along Alison Road to make way for the light rail. The original plans for the light rail had spare these historic trees, however, after lobbying from Randwick Racecourse the site of the rail was changed and the trees have now been removed.
As part of the planned Westconnex exchange at St Peters the NSW Government intends to remove 350 trees from Sydney Park. This is an unacceptable imposition on the community and I will continue to fight for a better outcome.