Staying true.


Keeping Randwick's Trees remains an independent community initiative that was created in response to the planned and thereafter approved removal of over 400 trees in Randwick for a Light Rail that could have been designed otherwise. Many of our historic trees seen only as 'removable' were actually listed as 'exceptionally significant' trees (on both the local & metropolitan scales). This alone should have granted them protection, but it did not.

We sought to raise awareness & inspire positive engagement, encouraging people to express how much they loved life with our threatened trees. Now, after already having lost so much, there are touts about 'Greening Sydney's Light Rail route'. But unfortunately, they are disingenuous. Despite media attention and other recent community efforts, Transport Minister Andrew Constance is pressing on regardless. Others in power also refuse to stand up to him for our trees (as much as they might try to convince you otherwise).

We are losing our trees and all that comes with them. But we won't lose ourselves.

We are not buying into the quickly popular idea of a "war on trees”. As heartbroken as we are, and as much as we feel ignored & brushed aside, we just don’t agree that it is a constructive way to go about things. We believe that if we accuse “them” of declaring war, they’re only further encouraged to refer to people who care about trees as “Greenie-Nazis” among other things (and no, we couldn’t have made that up - our local government representative actually uttered that term). Wars only continue to divide.

In our minds, the “fight” is for the protection of established trees to enjoy its rightful place on the agenda, no matter what or whose agenda it is. But we urge you to stay true to yourselves.

Do your own research, trust your own feelings & make up your own minds. Just remember that there are endless ways to be involved.

Photos: Alison Rd near Wansey Rd, July 2015 & January 2016. 13 trees were removed from this location between Christmas & NYE 2015, including 10 heritage trees of 'exceptional significance'.

The idea of a "war on trees” being waged by the NSW Premier is seductive at face-value. We are not oblivious to the continued loss of trees around Sydney and it is tempting to find one person to blame. But we have to ask ourselves, “what person in his right mind would wage such a thing?” If it’s safe to assume that everyone in their right mind wants to continue to breathe air and that trees provide this, we have to conclude that someone waging a “war on trees” is not in their right mind.

Either that, or they are not intentionally setting out with the ultimate goal of removing trees, but have rather got other things in mind. Our trees are more like unconsidered, collateral damage. Either way, when we really think about it, it seems more likely that the people in government who continue to allow for the destruction of our trees are merely ignorant.

They know trees are important to us, the community (we had already made it quite clear during the submissions process), but they believe that they know better and think that other things are more important. Unfortunately, they do not really know trees.

As one of our 7 year old Roots & Shoots kids thoughtfully remarked after learning that removals had begun, ”I think they only think that trees make it all green, but I don't think they know that they make oxygen”. Perhaps they just don’t know - not really. They don’t know that not only do trees allow for the air we breathe, they also keep our cities cool - something the Federal government is now finally putting the spotlight on, even if it is only because that is what more people now want to hear.

We haven’t given up on the “fight” for trees to have a voice, but it doesn't make sense to say that our losses come down to one, ill-intentioned person. Besides the fact that we have just concluded that he is more likely to be merely ignorant, our government representatives are, after all, voted in. The disappointing truth is that many ordinary people, like us in so many ways, are also yet unlike us in that they do not appreciate the true value of trees.

Our initiative sought to raise awareness and positive community engagement with the government on this issue. And we succeeded to an extent (one young woman told us that after following our initiative and speaking with her family about it, her husband admitted that he had “never really looked at trees before”). But unfortunately we could not compete overall with the misleading, mass marketing produced for the project, claiming they were “minimising tree loss” and “replacing trees” where their removal was “unavoidable”. Nor could we compete with stubborn ideas that we were "anti-Light Rail" simply because we cared about protecting our trees. This just goes to show how losing our significant trees became nonsensically synonymous with gaining a Light Rail (and how that impeded positive changes from being made).

We couldn’t even compete with the misguided conviction that people who care about protecting trees are “Greenie-Nazis". There were also too many vocalising concerns about things like “traffic-chaos”, which they had a right to do, but which drew attention away from our trees. So now, what we ultimately see is a trade-off of trees, heritage & community, for the maintenance of existing road space for cars. This debunks that other persistent myth that this project is going to be taking cars off the road. The reality is quite the contrary. It has already forced people off footpaths & their bikes, and once it is running, it will force people who already ride buses onto the Light Rail instead, since buses will be re-routed. Everyone who drives a car will probably continue to do so.

However, yelling at these people for being concerned about what they are, or for not knowing what they don't know, won't help. Ask yourself why you are motivated to protect urban trees and why you experience their loss. Is it because someone told you you should?

Is it because someone recited a list to you detailing all the practically essential things that trees do? Or is it because you know them for yourself? You know how it feels to step under their shady canopy on a hot day. You know the calming sound of the wind rustling through their leaves. You know their beauty in the sunshine or rain. Whatever it is you love about trees, it is something special - it is your own knowledge.

Our government representatives are poor souls really, deprived of such knowledge, and stuck in the “business of usual” rut. They are still doing things the way they were decades ago. All you need to do is to take a look at what other countries are doing to see how misled our governments and the general public still are. Others started building around irreplaceable, established trees decades ago. They continue to re-designate existing road-space to public transport & cycling (even walking!) instead of cars.

We cannot force someone to know or to love something that they don’t. But we can be determined to live our own lives according to what we know, and we can keep learning, with respect for the researchers who dedicate their lives to doing so. We can remember that we probably didn’t know at one stage either, and we can try to lead by example. We can continue to express ourselves and speak up for what we believe in - the right thing - ‘cos in the end, keeping our trees is the only way to go.

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