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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Plans to plant half a million trees in urban ACT

The ACT Government will plant almost half a million trees over the next quarter-century to ensure Canberra remains the bush capital, the Urban Forest Strategy 2021–2045, released on Tuesday, reveals.

In 2015, forest canopy covered 19% of the ACT’s urban area, but the ACT Government wants to increase canopy to 30% by 2045.

In the fifth large-scale tree planting in Canberra’s history, more than 450,000 trees will be planted on public land over the next 25 years, 25,000 by 2023, and 9,000 this year alone, Minister for City Services Chris Steel said.

“Canberra’s urban forest is one of our city’s most precious community assets. It cools our suburbs, cleans our air, improves the liveability of our streetscapes, provides habitat for local wildlife, and enhances community wellbeing.

“It is essential that we protect, maintain and enhance our urban forest as Canberra grows so that our community can share in these benefits today and into the future.”

As a priority, the Government will plant more trees on public land to increase the ACT’s tree canopy cover.

“To grow our urban forest, we will plant hundreds of thousands of more trees, using more diverse and resilient species,” Mr Steel said.

Planting locations will focus on areas where canopy cover is lower and where existing trees are ageing or dying. New trees and a diversity of tree species make will the ACT’s urban forest more resilient and sustainable, contributing to the wellbeing of our city in a changing climate.

This year, the Government will also consult the community on legislation to support the Strategy, and better protect and grow urban forest on private and public land.

More than 240 people (including interested community groups) completed surveys or wrote submissions last year; 92% of respondents supported the Strategy’s vision, and 97% supported its objectives.

The ACT Government will develop an implementation and evaluation plan to complete, track and evaluate the immediate-, short-, medium- and long-term actions, and keep the Canberra community updated on progress.

Andrew Braddock MLA, Greens spokesperson for Better Neighbourhoods, will call on the ACT Government to commit to annual progress updates; to report on the tree canopy percentage in every suburb in Canberra; and support the community to participate in achieving the tree canopy target.

“The reality is that some suburbs need more urgent attention than others. Indeed, 16 suburbs in Canberra have less than 10% tree canopy cover, and half of those are in my Gungahlin electorate of Yerrabi,” Mr Braddock said.

“Now that the Government strategy is out, we need to ensure the budget is allocated, the programs are implemented, and communities continue to be consulted.”

For more information on the Urban Forest Strategy, including access to the consultation report, visit www.yoursay.act.gov.au/trees-act/. An interactive map suggests a tree planting location.

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