Anzac trees should also be remembered
Thursday, 24 April 2008
A University of Adelaide researcher says drought, water restrictions and a lack of community memory may contribute to the loss of an important part of the Anzac legacy - thousands of trees that were planted across Australia in honour of those who have served for their country.
PhD student Sarah Cockerell is conducting a major national study of "Avenues of Honour" - tree avenues that were planted to serve as memorials to fallen and returning soldiers.
After the First and Second World Wars, several hundred avenues were planted across the nation. There are currently more than 300 Avenues of Honour throughout Australia, with the earliest known World War I example planted in 1916 in Eurack, Victoria, and the largest to be found in Ballarat. More than half of the avenues can be found in Victoria, with South Australia home to more than 30 of them.
"Over the years, many of the avenues around Australia have been lost due to poor management, urbanisation and natural causes. However, the few that remain in good condition form valuable heritage landscapes, with local and national significance," Ms Cockerell says.
"The tree is a commonly used symbol of life, as well as the cycle of life, death and renewal. Therefore, it's only natural that trees are used as long-lasting memorials," Ms Cockerell says.
In addition to gaining a better understanding of how many avenues exist and what their condition is, Ms Cockerell's research has been looking at: threats posed to urban trees, management practices, the cultural and historical significance of the trees, their horticultural significance, and what the future holds for such memorials.
She says the role of the community is crucial if Avenues of Honour are to survive as long-lasting memorials.
"These avenues were almost always planned, organised, paid for, and planted by local community groups. They symbolise a community's grief over the losses of war as well as the community's pride in their people and their town.
"The survival of Avenues of Honour is very much dependent on the value placed on them by local community groups, including schools, churches, RSL branches, and local councils. Whenever community support fades from lack of interest or the fading of community memory, the trees are in greatest danger.
"New generations of Australians have a role to play in better understanding the Avenues of Honour in their area and helping to maintain, restore or renew them - just as young Australians are helping to reinvigorate the all-important Anzac Day marches," she says.
Ms Cockerell is interested in hearing from local communities right across Australia about Avenues of Honour in their area. She can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Cockerell is a joint student within the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and the School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture & Urban Design.
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