SUBURB IN THE SUN
IT is no coincidence that the City of Belmont’s appallingly meagre tree canopy coverage (“Heat on in city as shade fades”, Gazette, March 3)has been identified during a period in which unit developments have been proliferating throughout the district.
When I completed an apprenticeship in horticulture with Belmont council in the early 1980s, the motto was “City of Parks”.
And, indeed, the district had many green parks and a great many large, shady trees. However, the City subsequently became the “City of Opportunity” and the developers have taken every opportunity to remove any tree that stood in their way.
I can only assume the council has expanded its rates revenue accordingly but the citizenry now lives in a more congested and unpleasantly sun-beaten suburban environment.
Even noise from planes, sirens and traffic carries across the district more now.
I still have a copy of a letter written by a City planner 16 years ago making excuses for developers wanting to remove large trees.
It does not contain a word about the positive attributes of large trees and this unsympathetic disposition helps explain the City’s embarrassing classification as the local government authority with the lowest tree canopy coverage in the metropolitan area.
Trees bring a great many benefits to our living environment but reducing urban heat build-up is now a serious public health issue.
The statistical relationship between fatality rates and heat waves in large cities is quite striking, though not widely appreciated, and in a hot climate such as that experienced in Perth, depriving an area of its tree canopy is a serious issue.
The City of Belmont may have belatedly committed to planting more trees but its “Street Tree Plan” includes no locally native trees and less than a handful of WA native species.
The rest are a mix of eastern states trees and largely deciduous exotics that have no ecological relationship with the district at all.
Furthermore, the City raised no objection when Perth Airport removed 310 hectares of bushland and wetland conservation precincts from the Perth Airport Masterplan last year.
Apart from their natural heritage value, areas such as these are substantially cooler than concrete, steel and tarmac agglomerations and help to make the local environment more liveable.
I hope City of Belmont residents can all afford to run airconditioners for many hours every day: so much for saving energy. KEVIN McLEAN, Redcliffe.