The City of Sydney has endorsed a new management plan for the city’s iconic Hyde Park which preserves the majority of the park’s majestic trees for as long as possible.
The original trees were planted into low quality landfill in the 1930s following the construction of St James and Museum railway stations.
In some places the soil is less than one metre deep, is poorly drained and has adversely affected the health of the trees. Root damage and disease is a problem for many of the park’s 536 trees, especially the Hill’s Figs in the central avenue that are more than 80 years old.
The affected trees are suffering from incurable diseases causing trunks and roots to decay. While the trees may look healthy to the untrained eye, beneath the surface, their roots are dying and the trunks are becoming hollow.
Therefore Council adopted plans in 2006 to remove and replace whole sections of trees but because of careful tree management fewer trees have needed to be removed from the avenue, in the current timeframe than originally anticipated.
Between 2004 and 2005, 35 trees had to be removed from the avenue and this rapid rate of decline influenced the timing of the former replacement plan. However since 2006, just eight trees have had to be removed from the avenue.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City is planning to keep the avenue longer than originally expected because of an ongoing monitoring, pruning and removal program to ensure public safety.
“These trees bring so much joy to so many people, it will be devastating to lose them all at once and we are doing what we can to retain the avenue for as long as we can,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Since 2008, we’ve been growing new, high quality Hill’s Figs in two separate nurseries as part of a long term plan to replace the aging avenue trees. Those trees are now more than 6 metres tall.
“Some of the crop of newly grown trees will be used to replace failing fig trees outside the avenue and excess stock will be sold before they grow too big to transport.
“To ensure we always have a ready supply of replacement trees for the park in the years ahead, we will start growing a new crop of Hill’s Figs.”
The City sought advice from leading arborists as part of a review of its tree management plan after a large Hill’s Fig, suffering root damage, fell on the corner of Elizabeth and Park Streets on June 30 following a week of heavy rain.
Following that review, Council will proceed with the removal of 16 diseased and damaged trees, an increase in the frequency of tree inspections and the need to close the central avenue during extreme weather events. All these points have been factored into the new management plan.
Also under the new plan, major community events such as the Night Noodle Markets and the City’s Sydney Life photographic exhibition will be staged in alternative sites away from the central avenue.
“This new plan strikes the right balance between protecting our open green spaces and protecting the public – which is our number one priority,” the Lord Mayor said.
Three figs have been removed from the park in the last two months and a total of 50 figs have been removed since 2004 because disease and other issues made them unstable.
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