Street trees are vital to Summer cooling and reducing urban heat gain but Gawler council has a penchant for cutting down big trees, especially Pepper Trees.
I wonder if they consider that mature trees are refuges for large amounts of pollinator and predator insects? As we face enormous biodiversity loss, insect refuges they are becoming vital to our survival.
A couple af years back, the council allowed the neighbour on the block to the rear if ours to remove 3 huge pepper trees. We used to be able to sit out the back and watch the antics of numerous birds and, if we got closer, see clouds of insects coming and going and doing their thing. No more.
The garden yielded poorly in the two seasons immediately after that killing and I wonder if those low yields were echoed in other gardens. Pest insect numbers were up too Since then, we’ve managed a new equibrium with our own plantings of insect friendly plants and I seriously think about each insect that I knowingly kill. Of course, there are many that I kill by just existing but every trap and every squish of the fingers follows a moments genuine consideration.
We are at the point where we need to reconsider what is ‘useful’ or ‘aesthetically pleasing’ because we are running out of options, as species of every kind go extinct, there are less choices for us to pick from. Maybe killing a big old tree ticks a box on the council’s to-do list and ‘weedy’ trees are easy targets especially when they get replaced by ‘native plants’ (ticking the ‘reveg’ box). Some of those plants will be better for native pollinators, which is essential, but why not plant them in vacant and unused areas? There are plenty of those. Ironically, when they plant the natives, council then spends money and time poisoning the (often) edible weeds that grow around them, right down to where the water flows in our rivers.
What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that we have to rethink our take on the usefulness of plants and nurture what is there with different eyes. We’re running out of options and it takes many years for any tree to grow big enough to start to provide the services that many of us don’t even know they do.