Residents vs. municipal authorities vs. trees

Just up the road from where I currently stay, there are a few large Ficus elastica trees. I noticed them the first time I came down the street to view the house before renting it; For a couple of years Chow Khoon and I monitored bi-weekly the phenology of some Ficus elastica trees in Singapore, so I recognised them instantly.

The species is sometimes called the Indian rubber tree because the thick white latex was once experimented with as a source of natural rubber. It is also a popular horticultural import all over the world, perhaps because of the large, dark green leaves and long red stipules. It’s “Indian” because its native range includes India, and stretches east and southwards to Java, Indonesia. However, it’s not native to Singapore; in the wild, it may prefer more seasonal climates such as in Java, India, Indochina, etc. The wasp species that was known to pollinate the figs went extinct, leading EJH Corner to declare Ficus elastica one of the “living dead” species, but we discovered a healthy population of another wasp species happily pollinating the cultivated trees in Singapore, leading to ripe figs and successful escape of the species from cultivation. That’s another story, and not the point of this one.

It’s also certainly not native to Brisbane. In Brisbane, as far as I could see, the trees are less exuberant in displaying the strangling habit as they do in Singapore.

When I came back from Singapore to Brisbane last December, I saw that white boards with words had been put up around the trees near my home, slamming the Brisbane City Council (BCC).

20160110_154401

From left to right:

These trees survived last year’s horrendous storm. But they can’t survive the BCC.

Why can’t these trees be maintained by the BCC when others can?

More superb community consultation by the BCC… not!

BCC playing the “safety card” again to take away our character!

20160110_154409

From right to left:

In a matter of hours this December, these trees will be destroyed by the BCC.

These are significant landscape trees. Cooling and a safe home for wildlife. The removal of these trees will result in a hot embankment of mismanaged plants and weeds. Just look elsewhere to see.

No expense spared to save City Hall. Problem tree? “Just chop it down.”

Slipping in another sneaky decision at Christmas time. BCC the Bad Santa!

There is no emergency! Our rates have increased above the Brisbane average. Stop the destruction now and involve the community in the discussion! It’s only fair.

Brings to mind some of the recent conflicts over cutting down trees in Singapore to widen roads, etc. The Singaporean version is considerably more mild and passive-aggressive, of course.

Does it matter that this fig species non-native? And that, if the wasp species we found pollinating the cultivated population in Singapore (which is also present elsewhere as well) somehow gets introduced to Brisbane, this fig may run wild as some fig species have elsewhere around the world? Would people change their perceptions when they have such information?

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1 Comment

  1. Reuben Lim said,

    25 January 2016 at 17:18

    so exciting


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