Save our trees
On Sunday evening May 1, we sat looking up at a majestic Moreton Bay Fig tree on the corner of Alison Road and Anzac Parade, Moore Park. Its dense canopy extended tens of metres, its lifespan several times our own. Sometime in the first week of May it is likely that the tree will no longer be, along with others along Anzac Parade, Wansey Road and Alison Road which are being chopped down or pruned to make way for the CBD and South East Light Rail (CSELR). The tree clearing first began in December last year. A total of more than 1,200 trees (some 900 of which are heritage listed or significant), some 10 hectares of urban tree canopy, will be impacted by the $2.1-billion light rail, which will run from Circular Quay to Kingsford.
Trees give sustenance, shade and shelter, provide oxygen, improve air quality, ameliorate climate, conserve water, preserve soil and support wildlife. With roots deep in the earth and crowns dancing in the sky, the strength, long lifespan and beauty of trees are inspiring.
The business case and traffic impact study for the light rail have been kept secret, and serious concerns have been raised about the transport benefits of the project. Like WestConnex, the project has been shielded from public scrutiny. Like the plans of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust to seize parts of Moore Park for sporting and attendant car parking facilities, exposed by the ABC’s Background Briefing in March, the light rail impacts on public parklands for questionable public benefit. Even the discovery of more than 22,000 Aboriginal artefacts has been insufficient to halt the works.
The CSELR is just one of a number of infrastructure projects underway in Sydney that have bypassed standard planning processes put in place to ensure that billions of dollars of public money are well spent.
Community groups Sydney Light Rail Action Group, Save Sydney’s Trees and Keeping Randwick’s Trees, the Total Environment Centre and hundreds of people who participated in a rally on the afternoon of May 1 are calling for a stop to the destruction of the trees, a parliamentary inquiry into the project, and a better solution to public transport needs in Sydney’s east. And community members gather nightly at Moore Park in a vigil to save our trees.