The ACT Government will spend $14 million to plant tens of thousands of new trees across Canberra by 2024.
The 2021 Budget allocation will finance the fifth large tree planting program in Canberra’s history, according to Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel.
All up, 54,000 trees will go into the ground as part of the government’s commitment to achieving the objectives outlined in the Urban Forest Strategy, Canberra’s Living Infrastructure Plan and the ACT Climate Change Strategy, including meeting the target of 30 per cent canopy cover by 2045, he said.
“It will help us to grow our city’s forest to ensure it is sustainable, resilient and contributes to the wellbeing of our community in a changing climate,” he said.
There have been warnings for years about the health of Canberra’s much-loved urban forest, and the Strategy released this year was the government’s response, calling for 450,000 trees to be planted by 2045.
It also marked a shift to more resilient species able to adapt to a dryer, warmer Canberra, and that will influence what kinds of trees will be planted and where.
But that won’t necessarily mean there won’t be any more deciduous streetscapes dressed in Autumn colours, just varieties that will last the distance.
The Strategy also calls for more community participation and volunteers, and a successful pilot program will mean the government will also fund the popular Adopt-a-Park initiative for another three years.
The program provides grants to community groups so they can get involved with caring for local parks and open spaces.
“This is about empowering volunteers who care for our parks, those who want their suburb to be climate resilient and want their neighbourhoods to receive all of the benefits that trees bring,” said Mr Steel.
“We’ve seen huge interest from locals in being involved in micro forest projects in parks in suburbs across Canberra. Investing in the Adopt-a-Park program means we can partner with even more communities to plant new trees and improve biodiversity in local neighbourhoods across Canberra.”
The Budget will also provide for planning works required to deliver essential upgrades to the government’s Holder Works Depot to accommodate an expanded tree planting and maintenance team and boost the capacity to recycle tree material into sustainable products such as woodchips for parks and playgrounds.
Chief Minister and Minister for Climate Action Andrew Barr said Canberra’s urban trees were one of the things that made the city such a great place to live.
“Planting tens of thousands of new trees now is a legacy that will make Canberra a more attractive, liveable and sustainable city for decades to come,” he said.
“Planting more trees will also help to create and protect local jobs, as part of our plan to grow our jobs market to 250,000 by 2025.”