Tree efforts welcomed, but still so much more to do: ACT Greens

Australian Greens

The ACT Greens have again called on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to urgent action at a time of climate emergency, by planting many thousands more trees in the ‘Bush Capital’.

It comes as the Greens today welcomed additional efforts from the Government to extend the tree watering season into autumn and to encourage Canberrans to give their local trees a much-needed drink of water.

The Greens commended the Government’s recent funding for 17,000 new street and park trees over the next four years.

However, the last report on this issue, from 7 years ago, showed that our streets and parks needed 40,000 trees to fill the gaps and replace dying trees. The Greens expect that this number would be much higher now.

In September last year, Greens leader and Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, launched Canberra’s Living Infrastructure Plan, which committed the Government to bold new targets: a 30% tree canopy cover and 30% surface permeability target by 2045.

Yet the ACT Government’s replanting program has traditionally been inadequate to replace those street and park trees that are lost. More investment will be needed to even address the decline, let alone get us anywhere close to the 30% tree canopy target we know our city needs to cope with our changing climate.

A Question on Notice from the Greens to the Government also found that street and park trees in our established suburbs are declining by around 3,000 a year.

“The challenge is complex – we need also stronger tree protection legislation to better protect existing trees, and we also need to make room for trees during redevelopment,” Greens Planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.

“I called for a review of the legislation in 2017. Unfortunately, that review is only underway now. Now that we have a 30% tree canopy cover target, we need to see this included in the legislation to make sure it happens.”

“At a time of climate emergency, the decisions we make today will have huge ramifications for the Canberra of the future.

“If we want to maintain a liveable Canberra, then we need many thousands more trees planted, and now-this is not a ‘wait and see’ scenario.

“While the Greens welcome the Government’s planting efforts to date, we need many thousands more trees planted if the Government is to deliver for the ‘Bush Capital’.

“We’re also seeing older suburbs are losing their tree canopies as bigger houses replace modest older homes on bigger blocks. Elsewhere, newer suburbs are being built without room for deep rooted shade trees.

“Unfortunately, this problem isn’t limited to residential areas. Local shopping centres with few established trees, like those at Mawson shops, can also reach extreme temperatures in summer.

“The bush capital is also home to many species that will only further struggle as the climate warms, presenting a serious threat to our native wildlife and animal species.”

Statement ends

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