Shire notes with councillor Sue Abbott

THE recent urban tree-felling outside the council chambers in Scone, and around the corner from there, near the Uniting Church, has caused much councillor and community angst.

Following on from the significant concern caused, Council as an organisation, has apologised on the public record and promised to do better. The community has made it crystal clear that for certain sensitive projects and proposals, sound evidence backed up by sound justification needs to be communicated to councillors and the community prior to such events taking place.

We must take into account the impact on people caused by the removal of trees, let alone the impact on all the animals who call trees home.

In relation to how humans world-wide feel about trees, Guardian reporter, Emma Mitchell, reported recently that research has shown that 'time spent among trees causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to decrease, lowers the blood pressure, increases the number of active natural killer cells, so boosting immune function - and improves mood and concentration'.

Furthermore peer-reviewed research shows that 'spending time among trees has favourable effects on several of our body systems' and that there is 'evidence that simply seeing trees can confer beneficial changes'.

Our need for trees and 'green' spaces and corridors has never been greater, and it is one recognised by Upper Hunter Shire Council as evidenced by the draft urban tree management policy that is to be discussed at the August Ordinary Council Meeting next week, which if approved will go out for public exhibition.

The community reaction to council's removal of the nine living trees has been swift, and it has been one of visceral outrage. I am equally heartbroken that the trees were 'pruned' into non-existence.

I take solace from the robust conversations that have been happening since the tree felling and I am hopeful that in the future more sensitive ways to use chainsaws will permit the preservation of urban trees and their inhabitants.

Felling mature trees must be a last resort, an action taken only after proper consultation, and investigation into other alternatives.

To heed Costa's advice from Earth Fest, 'whilst it is good to plant new trees it is better still not to chop them down'.

And if you have not watched Sir David Attenborough's "Climate Change: the facts" I urge you to do so and you will find it on iview.