The ACT Government will plant 17,000 more trees across the city over the next four years, with the focus on areas with low canopy cover and where trees are ageing.
The measure announced in the Budget is less than the 7000 trees a year over the next decade the Greens say are needed to maintain and restore the city’s urban forest.
But the Government is calling it the largest program of tree planting this century, saying an Urban Forest Strategy will also be developed within 12 months, which will set out a pathway to meet canopy targets and build the resilience of Canberra’s green canopy.
The Budget papers say the tree planting measure is attached to a program for more bins at local shops, with the total cost amounting to $9 million, with only $338,000 in 2019-20, but increasing to $2 million in 2020-21, $3.1 million in 2021-22 and $3.7 million in 2022-23.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said the Government would also be looking to fill in gaps in the existing tree canopy cover in suburbs which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“We will also begin a large-scale tree propagation program at the Government’s nursery at Yarralumla and engage and involve the community in this substantial planting program,” he said.
“This is the largest program of tree planting this century, to renew and enhance Canberra’s tree canopy. Trees play a big role in the lives of Canberrans, keeping our streets up to 10 degrees cooler in summer, and help us to adapt to climate change.”
Greens Planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur has said street and park trees in the ACT’s established suburbs were declining by around 3000 a year, and that the current tree planting program was not keeping up, with many trees been lost to age, development and the Millenium Drought.
She has also called for planning rules to be changed to allow more space for trees around developments.
The Government manages over 766,000 public trees in streets and urban open spaces.
It will also release its Climate Change Strategy in coming months.