Plant native vegetation and watch the money follow
The recent poisoning of several native coastal banksia along the Ettalong foreshore has brought into focus the subject of trees and views.
Most people with eyes and a functioning internal thermostat enjoy both of these things but at what cost do we remove one for the other?
The Chamber of Commerce has called the dune area between Picnic Parade and Beach St - the tree lined stretch in front of the Atlantis Apartments where the trees were found to be poisoned - "an embarrassment" and "too dense" to allow for "views".
They are calling on Council to "maintain" this area urgently.
Indeed "maintenance" is great but how much "maintenance" is too much?
Was someone trying to "maintain" this area by poisoning the iconic local native banksia trees?
It's true that a view is desirable but Ettalong's economy will not fall into disrepair if a few diners and residents lose their view or have it filtered through trees.
Quite the contrary. The native vegetation planted by trained land managers was put in place for good reason.
Both tourism and business is enhanced by stable, tree and vegetation-lined dunes which support wildlife and provide vital shade for beach-goers.
Let's talk about surrounding villages like Pearl Beach, where attracting tourists, day trippers and cashed-up property investors is certainly not a problem.
At Pearl Beach, the dunes are a symphony of tall local native trees - bangalay, paperbark, angophora, banksia and a swathe of smaller shrubs.
It is stunningly beautiful and offers glorious dappled shade in the baking hot summers.
But don't take my word for it, compare the market on Realestate.com!
Alternatively, the urban heat along the foreshore roads which hug the Umina and Ettalong coastline, is unbearable in summer.
It deters people from going to the beach for most of the day as it's simply too hot.
Parking, riding or walking there is extremely unpleasant and finding any shade on the beach - forget it.
We also have sand inundation issues because of the woeful lack of vegetation on The Esplanade, Rickard and Augusta Sts, Umina.
What is this going to cost ratepayers in remediation works and ongoing maintenance?
The Council has little budget.
Vegetation is such incredibly useful and inexpensive infrastructure. Clever communities deploy it.
Not only that, the Esplanade is incredibly ugly for all but the few waterfront residents, some of whom believe uninterrupted 180 degree views of the ocean are better than the same view through a little foliage.
They may be surprised to learn that the equivalent beach front properties, nestled in the trees at Pearl Beach, Palm Beach, Wagstaff, Palm Cove and numerous other affluent suburbs with ocean views filtered through trees, are infinitely more desirable and worth three times as much as their own property.
Let's consider what long term desirability and liveability truly look like and plan with sensitivity.
Watch the money follow.
Email, 21 Aug 2022
Jennifer Wilder, Woy Woy