More than 200,000 trees have been planted in the Ingledene Forest south of Tharwa, creating a new outdoor recreation area for south Canberra as the battle over environmental policy heats up two months out from the election.
The first stage of the $1.73 million plan to plant 435,000 trees there by 2021 included more than 2,500 native trees to regrow critically endangered Box-Gum woodlands and over 120 coir logs to help with erosion and to capture sediment in drainage lines
After consecutive soggy weekends, Canberrans can look forward to Namadgi’s trails and camping sites that have just reopened along the Corin and Naas/Boboyan Road precincts, along with many other popular areas of the park including Gibraltar Falls, Corin Dam, Settlers Walking Track and Square Rock.
Both the Woods Reserve and Mt Clear campgrounds have also been re-opened and are taking online bookings with dedicated camper-trailer spaces now available at Woods Reserve.
The work down at Ingledene will provide locals and Canberrans more opportunities to enjoy the bush capital by mountain biking, orienteering, bushwalking and bird watching, while also providing more forestry jobs in the region, Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman said.
“The woodlands and grasslands surrounding our city are a major part of what makes Canberra a great place to live,” Minister Gentleman said.
“We are committed to improving areas like Ingledene and Kowen forests and protecting them from urban development.”
Mr Gentleman, a four-time ACT rally championship co-driver, also quipped about a potential rally down Smiths Road near the Forest, which sits on the outskirts of Namadgi National Park, flanked by the Gudgenby and Murrumbidgee rivers.
Two months out from the Territory election, trees have become a key battleground between the major parties after the Canberra Liberals unveiled their million trees policy back in June.
The Canberra Liberals have promised to plant one million trees over the next decade and ensure that every Canberran is within a 10-minute walk of green space if they are elected in October.
The plan has been met with skepticism from the government, which released its draft Urban Forest Strategy for public comment a month later, promising 25,000 trees by 2023 in its first stage, and reaching 450,000 by 2045 to achieve a target of 30 per cent tree canopy cover across the city.
The government acknowledged that some parts of Canberra lack the kind of tree cover that others take for granted and have committed to a more balanced canopy across the city.
Canberra Liberals environment spokesperson Elizabeth Lee said Labor’s strategy was just a branding exercise three months out from the election, and they had left it too late and Canberrans had woken up to the fact that Labor had not taken care of our urban trees for the past 19 years.