Fed-up residents call for better street tree care

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Brendan Rees

Residents are becoming increasingly frustrated over what they say is a lack of care for street trees in the CBD.

According to Jenny Eltham of the EastEnders residents’ group, trees have been “neglected” in Punch Lane and Little Bourke St, leaving residents to carry out their own watering.

“The trees could be better cared for. It’s taken me a year to get some real attention for one of the fig trees in Punch Lane which was so badly infested with Amelia bug it was losing its leaves,” she said.

 

We were hosing it off which is one treatment, but it really needed to be sprayed, which they did just before Christmas, but it needs spraying again.

 

Ms Eltham raised the issue at the EastEnders meeting on February 15 where staff from the City of Melbourne spoke about the council’s urban forest fund grants [with applications closing March 11], along with some other opportunities for community involvement.

However, Ms Eltham argued the funding would be better spent on maintaining existing trees, which she described as a “valuable asset”, and suggested that businesses should also be encouraged to “adopt-a-tree”.

In a statement, the City of Melbourne said new trees received regular manual watering for the first two years as part of the Young Tree Maintenance Program.

“Once the trees have established well in the landscape, they are taken off this manual watering regime and will typically perform well with rainwater and run off,” it said.

“The trees in Punch Lane and Little Bourke St (between Exhibition and Spring streets) have established well in the landscape and are no longer part of the Young Tree Maintenance Program. They were assessed as ‘good’ in early 2021 and are due for assessment again shortly.”

The council added some trees in Punch Lane had been growing in “containerised environments” and would be “monitored separately and given additional water, as required”.

The council also said the condition of trees were assessed annually with special maintenance undertaken on an as-need basis including manual irrigation.

However, resident Wendy Syme said some trees in Punch Lane “don’t look well at all.”

“Council are really good at doing all these wonderful infrastructure things, but they don’t maintain anything,” she said.

It comes as residents also told CBD News that rubbish had built up around the base of trees with plant boxes at parklets also not “looked after” •

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