Save Glenhove Road!

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Glenhove Road in Melrose Estate was until two years one of the prettier tree-lined avenues in Johannesburg. However, the entire road is now under threat - first, the Johannesburg Roads Agency removed established Plane trees around its intersections; then the Barrow Group removed not only Plane trees, but also heritage Oak trees at the lower end of the road, close to the M1 highway.

iHlathi, the Melrose-Birdhaven Conservancy, has now learned that further trees are to be removed, in order to widen Glenhove road from the M1 to Fifth Street, Melrose Estate. In addition, various developers have been clearing stands all along Glenhove Road, without any say from residents' associations - the latest victim being a stand at the corner of Fifth street and Glenhove Road, where all established trees have been removed.

We cannot allow this piecemeal destruction to carry on - for many reasons:

- The City of Johannesburg prides itself on having the largest 'man-made forest' - yet our urban forest, which has grown over the past century and a half, is being felled tree after tree by the Council and developers.

- The Council has a vision for a 'green, sustainable and livable' city - yet, it pays no attention to our natural heritage, gives free rein to developers, and rides roughshod over community concerns.

- The Council does not enforce any environmental by-laws on developers. For example, the Green on Glenhove was likely built on a wetland, and the developer, the Barrow Group, has made no efforts to replace trees that have been felled.

Leaving aside the issue that Glenhove Road, which is in between two residential, and historic, suburbs (Melrose Estate and Houghton Estate) would be more suited for the housing developments than commercial buildings, iHlathi has now asked for a meeting with the Council, to find a solution.

The Conservancy is proposing, among others:

- To redesign Glenhove Road so that the existing Plane trees are preserved - i.e. the Plane trees could remain in a median (like on Oxford Road);

- To remove the Plane trees, but to reinstate proper trees, and preferably London Plane trees, which are very suitable street trees.

- To enforce Council guidelines on new developments, and to preserve as much as possible the existing tree canopy, for the benefit of all.

Solutions therefore exist, but we need the Council to manage what is happening on Glenhove Road, and to impose conditions on developers that in due course enhance our suburbs, rather than destroy them piecemeal.

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iHlathi ('the forest' in isiZulu), was established in December 2014 for the Birdhaven, Melrose, Melrose Estate and Melrose North suburbs, and is registered with the Gauteng Conservancy and Stewardship Association. It aims to help develop a 'Green Meander' between Rosebank and Melrose Arch.

The suburbs of Melrose-Birdhaven are historical residential areas of Johannesburg that form a diverse natural heritage area, with major parks such as RH Henderson and James and Ethel Gray; an important stream - the Sandspruit - and associated wetlands; as well as significant tree cover on both public and private grounds.

The Conservancy is supported by the Birdhaven, Melrose and Melrose North residents associations, the Ward Councillor, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), and the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. iHlathi has also partnered with City Parks and Zoo.

For further information, please contact Markus Scheuermaier at ihlathi.johannesburg@gmail.com, at www.facebook.com/ihlathi and at www.twitter/ihlathi



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