Verge toll audit

One among hundreds of recently expired verge trees.

AFTER a wave of verge trees keeled over in Perth’s recent heatwave, an audit will be carried out across Bayswater to assess the toll and find out how to keep the survivors alive.

Bayswater has some of the highest levels of hard “grey” surfaces such as pavement in the country, ripe to capture sunlight and exacerbate hot spells.

Councillor Elli Petersen-Pik had noticed a lot of trees perishing this summer and put a call out to residents asking them to notify council about any they’d seen, and notifications about hundreds of dead trees quickly rolled in. 

“We have just experienced the hottest summer on record in Perth, and unfortunately, it seems like an unprecedented number of our verge trees, including mature ones, have not survived it,” Cr Petersen-Pik said.

“Each mature verge tree that dies is a massive loss to our city, not only environmentally and socially, but also financially, not least because a lot of effort and money have been invested in each one of them over the years.”

At the March 23 meeting he moved a motion calling for a report on the number of trees that died this summer, seeking details of vulnerable species and the suspected cause.

The motion also calls for an account of how frequently they’re watered, and seeks any measures to keep them alive in future hot spells.

“We have hundreds, from what I understand now from the feedback that I have receiving … we have a massive loss of verge trees during the last summer.

“I received emails from everywhere: Noranda, Morley, Embleton, Bedford, Maylands, everywhere. It’s across the board.

“And people want to know how the city’s maintaining those trees when it comes to watering… how we are actually ensuring they survive the heat, the changing climate.

“We are losing mature trees, which is the most concerning thing, big trees that should survive.”

Inner city trees also suffered through the hot spell, with many London planes in the CBD losing  chunks out of their canopies across December and January. Stirling council’s attempt at planting new trees along Walter Road was also quickly undone with scores in December. Vincent council’s next tree mortality report covering the summer comes out next month. 

by DAVID BELL

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