OPINION | Colourful canopy is just what we need

STREETS OF COLOUR: A 5 per cent fall in urban tree cover can lead to a 1-2C rise in air temperature, meaning some of these new 'hotplate' housing estates are like building a giant local oven. Trees are our salvation not our curse.
STREETS OF COLOUR: A 5 per cent fall in urban tree cover can lead to a 1-2C rise in air temperature, meaning some of these new 'hotplate' housing estates are like building a giant local oven. Trees are our salvation not our curse.

PURPLE rain, purple rain, in Campbelltown.

No, I’m not talking about a local concert for Prince fans – but a potential Jacaranda season that would turn one part of the city awash with purple blooms.

I’ve heard some pretty stupid ideas from councillors over the years, but this is not one of them. Cr Rey Manoto is pushing to create a grand Jacaranda Lane somewhere, perhaps Raby Road.

Magnificent colour, magnificent shade, magnificent local pride, which more than compensates for the usual whinges about falling leaves by some residents who would perhaps be more at home in the Simpson Desert.

Just look at Camden’s main street, or Menangle to see how they enhance far more than they subtract. And thank goodness they saved the stunning plane trees in Picton’s main street.

Indeed, perhaps we should go one giant step further than Cr Manoto’s row of jacarandas, and plant many, many ‘rows’ of different trees. Let’s truly turn heat-island Campbelltown into a city of trees, and a genuine tourist attraction, with even perhaps a proper viewing circuit for visitors to follow.

Imagine...after visiting the canopy of purple along, say, Raby Road, you could then admire the corridor of Illawarra flame trees along Hurley Street, then the cherry blossoms along Therry Road near the hospital.

Then you could photograph a long row of Japanese maples bursting with colour at the gateways to Queen Street, or majestic red flowering gums along Collins Promenade at Ingleburn, English oaks along Cambridge Avenue, and willowing pepper trees planted along the road to Menangle Park. And why not an avenue of fruit trees somewhere, which locals could pick from.

Trees can transform us.

As exhibit A, I point to the Campbelltown exit/entrance to the freeway near the Raby Road overbridge – once bald hills, now a gorgeous forest.

Exhibit B might be Pembroke Road at Minto – once a dusty semi-desert, now beautified by that long row of figs, which have only just started to hit their stride.

But trees do so much more than add value and beauty.

Can you imagine, if Campbelltown Council suddenly announced it was spending $2 million to purchase a giant new machine that could cool the area around us, filter pollutants from the air, generate oxygen, absorb stormwater, cut electricity bills, reduce noise or beautify our surroundings, we would congratulate ourselves on man’s ingenuity and swallow the cost. (I might remind you that ratepayers were slugged almost $1 million a few years ago to replace real grass with synthetic grass.)

But we already have something that does all those amazing things that I mentioned. Trees. We don’t need a giant machine, and imagine how many trees we could buy for $2 million.

Well-known local green thumb Tim Pickles constantly crusades on greening our surroundings and tells me he would love to see suitable, colour-coordinated species planted en masse in our suburbia, but done wisely. (He is scratching his head over figs he saw planted in Gregory Hills, about two metres apart: “The trunks will be wider than that once grown!”

Our temperatures will sizzle more and more as our local trees are cleared and our greenfields are destroyed to be replaced by (insane) dark-coloured rooftops, all squished up against one another, creating giant barbecue hotplates.

We need a canopy.

Why not go one step further than Cr Manoto’s row of jacarandas, and plant many rows of different trees.

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