Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A corporation's idea of a tree

"I think that I will never see a poem as lovely as a ... powerpole." The world according to Energy Australia.

The electricity supplier in our area, a working class suburb in the St George area of Sydney, has just been through in one of its periodic tree massacres in the name of preventing interruptions to power supplies during windy and stormy weather.

It's hard to argue with that, but it would be nice to think that this corporation had any idea of what a tree should look like, the differences between various trees, and how they should be pruned.

It doesn't, of course. Like all corporations its sole concern is to minimise costs and maximise profits. To that end it seems to issue a contract for tree pruning to the lowest bidder, issue some cursory guidelines as to how far the offending foliage should stay from the power (and cable television) lines and tell them, "gentlemen, start your chainsaws".

Exhibit 1. This is a date palm near my home. It's a type of tree that has adapted over thousands of years to high winds and only drops fronds when they are dead, and even then only after months of hanging beside the tree. In a decade of living near this tree I've never seen it drop anything in a high wind. A sensitive approach would be to come around about twice a year and remove any fronds that are dead or dying and likely to fall in the near future. Instead, our friendly energy corporation gets out the tape measure, deems this miscreant to be breaking the rules, and shears everything off one side. Great stuff, Enery Australia, thanks for your contribution to beautifying our neighbourhood!

Exhibit 2. This is one of a group of trees that provide shade to people walking (yes, people still do that) along the street on hot summer days. It has thick foliage, has been trimmed by Energy Australia many times and doesn't seem to suffer too much, but why oh why have the trimmers left that one lonely branch growing out to the right? Would the execs at Energy Australia trim a tree like that in their own garden? Very unlikely, so why do it to our neighbourhood? No doubt this is the corporation's idea of the perfect tree, observing a respectful distance from the power lines and outside that nothing matters. It obviously doesn't matter to Energy Australia.

Exhibits 3 and 4. A couple of calistemons that have been given the full treatment. (See one of these at the top of this post, a particularly lovely example of Engergy Australia's handiwork). Some trees seem to get reasonable treatment from the Energy Australia contractors, and perhaps skill varies between various operators of the chainsaw, but these trees have been done over brutally. Branches that are nowhere near the powerlines have been cut and almost nothing is left of their foliage. New growth is unlikely until spring, and it will be a struggle for these two trees to survive winter, which is just beginning.

We all use power and don't want interruptions to the power supply, but how about a bit of training for your tree loppers, Energy Australia? Cheap and nasty isn't nearly good enough.


Brolga said...

The words disfigurement and rape also spring to mind.

Unruly creatures, trees; growing every which way; horizontal trunks, even, sometimes. And what about those fetal-like shaped limbs of the angophoras.

The v-shaped pruning of the canopies and upper branches indicates that the motivation is definitely to violate. It's a violent and violating act which may feel temporarily empowering and satisfying to the perpetrator but would also desensitise. Which is a form of trauma.

Anonymous said...

Tree same thing. E watching you.
You look tree you say... 'Oh'
That tree e listen to you, what you!
E got no finger, e can't speak
But that leaf, e pumping his.
Way e grow in the night while you sleeping
E grow with your body, your feeling
When you feeling tree, e work with you tree.
You cut im little bit, you got water coming out
Well that tree same as you. If you feel sore
'Oh, I'm my body sore!'
Well that means somebody killing tree
Because your body on that tree or earth.

Bill Neidje

Brutus said...

Some trees just get too big for their branches. They need to be taken down a twig or two

Greenwolf said...

The lines themselves are ugly - why not underground them all, and let the trees just grow? It's not rocket science.

Rachelle said...

This is great info to know.

reality said...

Obviously the authur knows nothing about trees. First photo is not a date palm it is a cocos plam. You will note in the background the low voltage and then the high voltage line. Therefore it was growing towards the HV line. By law / legislation, it must not be allowed to grow into clearance zones. Its not the electricity companies rule. It is the law. Secondly, you state that the one brnach is left by itself. Read the legislation again, energy companies can only prune to clearances. That branch is outside clearances. If they prune it then the owner of the tree (council) could prosecute them for unauthorised pruning. Street trees are the responsibility of Councils. They do not prune them so it is the energy company that does it.

What are they suppose to do. Councils plant stupid palms and other inappropriate species under the wires. Why do they plant gum trees that grow to 15m high in a space that can only fit a 5m tree in it.

What are the electricity companies suppose to so! Most powerlines have been there for 80-100 years. Why dont people look up when they plant.

And yes they probably should all go underground but what happens to all the roots when they have to trench along the footpath. And are you all going to pay double your bill to pay fir it all. They are a business they will not do it for free.

Anonymous said...

Reality, the truth is, this is all to do with minimising costs and maximising profits. The energy companies want things the way they are so they can fob off responsibility for their actions.

If they didn't, their lobbyists would be swarming all over government, offering bribes until they bought enough pollies to get their way.

Don't whinge about the poor, powerless power companies. Big business is just about the only interest with real access to politics in NSW today.