North Sydney has less open space per person than any other northern Sydney council - significantly less. So you knew when you were elected to Parliament that we were rightly angry to be losing 15,000 sqm of parkland permanently to house maintenance infrastructure for the Western Harbour Tunnel.
You assured our community that you were fresh eyes and ears and, to be fair, you made the time to listen. Then silence, inaction, and more silence.
Today contractors will begin chopping down another 655 trees on the Cammeray Parklands, adding to the 100 that have already been removed. That’s 600 more trees than you told us would be going.
These are mature trees that have taken 20, 30 or 40 years to grow. They are not just visually appealing, although they beautifully soften the edges of Ernest Street and the Warringah Freeway. These trees are the lungs of North Sydney, absorbing carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen and creating a cleaner atmosphere for us all to breathe.
The Cammeray Parkland trees provide habitat for our local fauna, including insects, lizards, birds and possums. Planted together, they form a wildlife corridor that allows wildlife to move more safely between our bushland reserves. This corridor of trees is an important source of food for our local wildlife and enables the migration and interbreeding of fauna that help keep populations viable.
Land clearing is the preference of developers and contractors because it’s cheap and makes their task easier. However, offering to plant more trees at the end of the construction cannot replace what will be lost. Ecosystems, once destroyed, can take decades or centuries to restore.
Time is up Mr James. This is your last opportunity to speak up for your community. Ask your government to halt the project temporarily so that some of these precious trees can be retained and the infrastructure shed can be placed underground and the open space returned to the community when the project is complete.
Zoe Baker, Mayor of North Sydney
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