Group starts to promote shade trees
A new community group calling itself GUST (Grow Urban Shade Trees) has been started in Umina to encourage residents to bring shade and beauty to their neighbourhoods.
"I'm absolutely driven to do something about the lack of canopy on the Peninsula," said Gust founding member, Ms Jennifer Wilder.
"It is unacceptable that in summer I cannot even walk my dog in daylight hours because of the baking sun," Ms Wilder said.
"We formed GUST to try to combat the bizarre aversion that many residents have to large trees," she said.
"I would like to take every possible opportunity to try to educate and inspire residents about the overwhelming benefits of shade trees.
"There is a lot of unnecessary fear and I'd love to turn this around.
"Council have wonderful safe species that they recommend, now the challenge is just to get residents interested enough.
"Trees are an essential part of any vibrant, liveable suburb.
"They reduce air and water pollution, keep us cool in summer, increase property values, decrease our heating and cooling bills and deliver mental and physical health benefits.
"Trees in our streets are an easy way to improve the look and feel of our suburbs.
"Global engineering and urban design company Aecom has analysed tree canopy coverage and five years of house price data across Sydney.
"They found that houses on streets with more trees were worth an average of $50,000 more than those on less leafy streets.
"Local governments are all getting on board with greening programs with good policies around shade production and this follows advice from scientists and climate experts about the urgent need for more trees.
"Residents can help by planting a tree in their front garden or nature strip, or by undertaking planting with their neighbours or friends.
"Your local nursery can help you select the best tree.
"Popular choices are brush box, tuckeroo, blueberry ash, grevillea, angophora hispida ... but there are so many more to choose from.
"All trees require regular watering when young, especially in summer but soon become very low maintenance.
"A common misconception is that trees cannot go under wires but there are lots of great medium sized trees that work under wires.
"I advise all residents to take a moment, when driving or walking on a hot day, to notice the extreme difference that a shade tree makes to temperature.
"The shade is the first thing we look for on a warm day.
"It just makes complete sense to line our streets with more trees," Ms Wilder said.
Ms Wilder said her first project has been to engage in street planting in Dorothy Ave, Woy Woy.
"Summer is coming and soon people will be roasting again, looking for that rare shady parking spot, complaining about their air conditioning prices," she said.
"We are currently looking very closely at what councils are allowing and not allowing because it seems that people are able to put granny flats in at the expense of large, established trees.
"There also seems to be a myth or a lot of fear about large trees being unsafe and that is why we, as a group, are very interested in educating people about choosing the right tree for the right place.
"As far as we are concerned the benefits of trees far outweigh the risks."
The former Gosford Council had a program of providing free trees to residents and community groups but this has been put on hold as a result of the amalgamation.
"The free trees to residents is currently on hold, it is in transition and hopefully will come back.
"We have been looking at ways to propagate our own and look for our own because we are not sure how long it will take Council to put free trees back on the agenda."
Ms Wilder said GUST had been writing to staff and Councillors in an effort to get support for the free trees program.
Media release, 15 Nov 2017
Interview 17 Nov 2017
Jennifer Wilder, GUST
Reporter: Jackie Pearson