I live in a small township in SW Victoria with a population of about 500 people. It is a long, narrow town with hills to our north and the sea to the south. The town girdles the Princes Highway, so is a main thoroughfare.
For all that it is a great place to live, especially with such a beautiful climate that we experience, there is something to me that is missing – street trees. The main street, a highway, is devoid of any vegetation other than mowed grass, usually kikuyu. And we have wide verges too – perfect for growing trees of significance!
Most country towns that you drive through leave some sort of an impression. As a tree lover, I usually drool over the towns where some wise planner has planted trees for posterity; trees that are then preserved in maturity as heritage trees.
Street trees have a purpose other than mere aesthetics. Once trees become commonplace along roadways and locals see the beauty of them, they can then become inclined to plant more trees in their own gardens. There is apparently a natural follow-on effect as an advantage.
The carbon sequestration gained from the planting of especially large trees, selected to grow in harmony with their surroundings and climate, can be considerable. The planting schedule, with the community working together on the project, assists with community bonding which is always a bonus.
There are theories that when greenery, especially in the form of trees are present, that negative behaviours in the form of vandalism and aggression, are reduced. I know when I look out of my own windows and see the wonderful array of eucalypts and deciduous trees in my own garden, that there is a sense of harmony that pervades my whole being.
Towns with street trees of significance have an increase in their house prices varying from 5% to 18% higher. But the most important reason to plant street trees of significance is the legacy that is left for future generations. If the right plants are selected, that grow slowly and strongly with a long life, then these plants are surely trees for posterity.
Because we have overhead powerlines running the length along one side through the township, the proposal will be to only plant out one side.
In the picture, taken of the main road through Port Fairy [which is also Princes Highway], they have planted Norfolk Island Pines, Araucaria heterophylla which are very big. The debate with the local community will be 1. Do we want trees along the highway [PLEASE say yes!], 2. what plant do we want? and 3. how are we going to fund the proposal?
I am the Chairperson of our local District Association, and the best legacy that I can give to my local community is to open discussion about the need for majestic trees to line our main road, to hopefully source community grants to finance the project, to the hopeful final outcome of planting these beauties with subsequent ongoing maintenance.