Historic Tree Under Threat from North-East Link

May 7, 2019

The immense, collective sadness experienced over recent weeks as images of Notre Dame engulfed in flame were shared across the world, served to draw into focus just how integral it is to human nature to form deep attachments to the things for us which are awesome.
Concurrently in our local news last week, indisputable parallels have been drawn between 850 year-old Notre Dame and hundreds of River Redgums, equivalent in age and significance to the Djab Wurrung people of Western Victoria. These trees are earmarked for removal in VicRoads’ plans for the impending Western Highway upgrade. One of the trees in question, a traditional ‘Birthing Tree’ has seen 50 generations of Djab Wurrung brought into the world within its hollowed trunk. Protectors of this tree have camped there for over a year now, uncertain of future and isolated from the rest of the world.

Their case however, is not isolated.


Redgum Shot 2

On behalf of Urban Initiatives, I am writing to you to let you know that last month our practice successfully nominated this remarkable River Redgum for 2019 National Trust Victorian Tree of the Year; the intention being not only to save this tree but to draw attention to the critical state of our natural heritage and the often blatant disregard for indigenous places of significance. We require your help to do this. 
The Bulleen River Redgum, perhaps not the most beautiful of the trees nominated, but arguably the most resilient, is also an elder of its species. It currently holds it ground impressively, against all odds, in what seem irreversibly urbanised surrounds; barely able to take a breath between Manningham Rd, Bridge Street and the adjacent Caltex Service Station. This powerful juxtaposition, as the attached photo shows, serves as an ominous reminder of what has been lost, the critical state of our natural heritage and of our responsibility to ensure the safekeeping of what remains.
This tree’s life is under threat by impending tunnel works associated with the North-East Link and it will not be the only tree to go: the nearby Yarra River Corridor is home to hundreds of trees like this one. This fragile and precious landscape cannot ever be replaced.
There is no dispute regarding the need for upgrades and improved infrastructure. The need for development is not what is in question. What we do need to be convinced of is that everything in our power is being done to ensure that in the planning and design of these projects, our landscapes are being prioritised proportionally to their huge significance and irreplaceable value. We know that the expertise and ability to work creatively within constraints and find solutions which minimise impact upon the things which are important to all of us exists to do this. It is what we do.
We are calling upon all our colleagues, clients and friends to stand with us by, in the first instance, voting for the Bulleen River Redgum. The more votes we can muster for this tree, the more we hope to raise awareness of the broader concerns – namely that this is not an isolated issue, that these trees are sacred, that they are irreplaceable and that the know-how exists to do so much better.
In order to vote please follow the link below to the Victorian Tree of the Year Facebook page to vote before May 19th. Please also feel free to forward this to your friends and networks.
Do be in touch if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further with us. We will be sure to keep you posted on progress.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully to vote for the Bulleen River Redgum,

The UI Team


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