Where 4,000 trees will be planted this autumn in new stimulus package

Ian Bushnell 24 April 2020 25
City Services Minister Chris Steel

City Services Minister Chris Steel plants an ornamental pear tree in Harrison on Thursday to launch the program. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Government will plant more than 4,000 trees across 87 Canberra suburbs this autumn as part of a $3 million refresh that will also support local businesses and create jobs during the COVID-19-induced economic downturn.

The tree planting and public spaces upgrade stimulus package adds to $25 million in infrastructure spending already announced.

The newer suburbs of Gungahlin where cover is low will receive the lion’s share of new trees, followed by Tuggeranong; Woden and Weston Creek; Molonglo; Belconnen; and the older, more established suburbs of Central Canberra.

Gungahlin will get 1452 new trees; Tuggeranong 841; Woden and Weston Creek 845, Coombs and Wright 32; Belconnen 571; and Central Canberra 368, more than doubling the planned autumn planting target of 1,500.

City Services Minister Chris Steel, who planted a tree in Harrison to launch the program, said there would be more than this going in the ground in the spring, which will make 2020 the largest tree-planting year this century.

“Suburbs with low canopy cover are our immediate focus, and we’ll be planting a combination of native, evergreen exotic and exotic deciduous trees to ensure our urban forest remains diverse and resilient,” he said.

A new, 10-strong team has also been created to trim the backlog of tree maintenance requests and help care for the urban forest, mainly focusing on the established southside plantings where some trees have died and need to be removed and replaced, as well as branches cut.

There will also be mulching and extra watering to reinvigorate areas with significant established trees such as City Hill and Ainslie Avenue.

Mr Steel said the stimulus need was an opportunity to enhance Canberra’s tree canopy and support the government’s target of 30 per cent cover across the city.

”It’s an opportunity to help deal with our very hot summers by planting more trees and cooling the city, particularly in areas with low canopy cover,” he said.

”This is going to be a legacy from the pandemic that is going to be a very positive one in years to come.”

The stimulus package will also refresh up to 30 playgrounds, involving the installation of extra softfall, and repair of equipment and repainting. An $800,000 contract has recently been awarded to RAM Constructions to undertake the work.

The government committed in last year’s Budget to planting 17,000 trees over four years but the ACT Greens say this will still not be enough to keep up with tree losses of 3,000 a year, particularly from climate change.

The Greens said last month that Canberra needed 40,000 new trees to restore the urban forest, with MLA Caroline Le Couteur also calling for stronger legislation to protect existing trees, and ensure there is enough room for trees on development sites.

Mr Steel said on Thursday that further plans for the urban forest would be guided by an upcoming community consultation about how the ACT could reach the 30 per cent tree canopy cover target.


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25 Responses to Where 4,000 trees will be planted this autumn in new stimulus package
George Watling George Watling 2:00 pm 26 Apr 20

I agree with Acton.

The greens and their labor buddies have presided over the largest and most extensive vegetation removal and suburban densification program in the history of the garden city.

Since they came to power tens of thousands of trees have been removed from our streets, parks, and open spaces and they have developed plans to stick 70,000 new homes in existing suburbs.

Where we live a whole street has been given over to ‘bulldoze the lot and concrete to the boundary’ cowboy developers. 800m2 blocks with gardens have been split into 400m2 blocks. The new townhouses, multi unit dwellings, and dual occupancies the developers have built fill the blocks. The few meters left between the buildings and the their colourbond fences are concreted or paved. There are no lawns, gardens, or shade trees.

Together these properties make a perfect heat island. On a 32 degree summers day all their un-shaded bituman driveways and grey concrete patios will reach 77 degrees and 64 degrees. This in-turn will force the occupants of those townhouses, multi unit dwellings, and dual occupancies to run their Air Conditioners on higher settings for longer.

The greens and labor claim squeezing tens of thousands of more people into existing suburbs will save some pristine wilderness some where outside the city limits and drive down green house gas emissions when the sad fact is that suburban densification here in Canberra and elsewhere (Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne) leads to:
a) increased local summer time temperatures,
b) increased green house gas emissions,
c) reduced habitat and food sources for local wildlife,
d) decreased quality of life for everyone in the densification zone as green gardens and opens spaces disappear and already stretched and underfunded local facilitates and infrastructure buckle under the weight of so many more additional households.

George Watling George Watling 10:18 pm 25 Apr 20

More trees are what we need. Research from industry organisations and universities clearly shows that trees in suburbs:
– increase property values
– improve mental well being
– reduce air conditioning costs
– protects us from extreme temperatures, dehydration, heat stress and heat stroke on hot summer days and during heat waves,
– improve air quality
– reduce run off and erosion,
– protect people and property from high winds and storm damage,
– increase the life of paths, roads, and buildings by blocking out damaging UV rays.

Acton Acton 2:23 pm 25 Apr 20

The reason why our once extensive tree canopy has shrunk is because of the ACT Government’s urban densification policy favouring apartments, smaller blocks and narrower streets.
More apartments = less parks, gardens and shady street trees = more suburban heat = more use of air conditioners.
The MIA Greens bear responsibility because they are part of this destructive, wasteful and negligent ACT Labor Govt.

Marilyn Roberts Marilyn Roberts 9:14 am 25 Apr 20

No gum trees please. They are incendiary devices

    George Watling George Watling 8:24 pm 25 Apr 20

    Hi Marilyn what your saying is factually incorrect

    It is an urban myth with no basis in truth or science.

    Brad Murray, Lyndle Hardstaff, Megan Phillips' article 'Differences in Leaf Flammability, Leaf Traits and Flammability-Trait Relationships between Native and Exotic Plant Species of Dry Sclerophyll Forest' published November 18, 2013 completely contradicts the view that gum leaves are more flammable then other leaves and oils contained in leafs is a major factor contributing to flammability.

    Murray, Hardstaff, and Phillips' are members of the University of Technology Sydney's School of the Environment.

    Their research clearly demonstrated that:

    1. the dry leaves of European and Asian tree species had significantly faster ignition times than the dry leaves of eucalyptus trees

    2. when fresh the leaves of exotics and natives did not differ in mean time to ignition,

    3. leaf size not oil content was the most important factor in leaf flammability in both native and exotic species.

    Denise Bourke Denise Bourke 12:10 am 26 Apr 20

    When we were in the haze of smokey summer, driving along main ACT roads there was so much dropped litter from gumtrees shedding. ... They provide no respite of shade in the harsh sun and produce threatening drops when they begin to grow.... I am all for the wisdom our country towns follow of planting deciduous trees where folks live ... If we are going to urbanise then that is just the reality for making our towns green and livable.

    Kevin Thompson Kevin Thompson 8:53 am 26 Apr 20

    1. Not relevant, the subject incendiary nature referred to by Marilyn plainly addresses the living tree, not leaf litter.

    2. mean time to ignition when a heat source is applied in a laboratory is not the question. It’s what happens after ignition that is important. Does the burning leaf make a good source of ignition for the leaves next to it? Scientists have ignored.

    3. Ambiguous

    For all that, it’s not the flammability of Street eucalyptus I find problematic but their aggression. They kill any other plant nearby.

    George Watling George Watling 12:35 am 27 Apr 20

    Hi Kevin

    I agree. Marilyn is concerned about the living trees. To that end:

    a) Associate Professor Chris Brack from the ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, in a 14 Oct 19 RiotACT article titled ‘Native trees best suited to beat Canberra’s intensifying heat’, clearly states that eucalypts trees in streetscapes are ‘not a fire risk’.

    b) the Uni. of Tech Sydney (UTS) study that I referred to above clearly demonstrated green leaves on gum trees are no more combustible then green leaves on non-Aussie exotics like oaks, ash trees, and maples.

    For a long time some people in the community have been arguing that gums are more fire prone than exotics. These Aussie scientist have proven that those claims aren’t true. They’re an urban myth.

    Regarding the question ‘does the burning leaf make a good source of ignition for the leaves next to it’ all leaves burn. What the scientists at UTS have proven (through field and lab work) is that there is no truth to claims that gum trees are more of a fire risk then introduced non-Aussie trees.

    Re your comments that gums are ‘aggressive’ and ‘they kill any other plant nearby’ that’s not true either.

    If you go to the corner of Marcus Clarke and Gordon Street’s in the City you can see some very lush vegetation growing under and next to gum trees on both sides of Marcus Clarke Street (see attached photos). There are even lush lawns growing under gums at the Garran Road end of Fellows Road on the ANU campus (see attached photos)

Lynn Stape Lynn Stape 7:29 am 25 Apr 20

Rather see a blitz on the clearing of all the rubbish that is lying on the ground around Canberra. There has been a mattress on the side walk in my street for weeks now...no where near a house... old damaged metal guttering that someone has dumped... bike parts.. sporting items of all descriptions...clothing... you name it and if I took a look I am sure I could even find the kitchen sink.. You would think I live in a slum area with that list wouldn't you but no... reporting it to TAMS doesn't get it picked up either...sigh...but trees are better than nothing I guess.

    Elspeth Shannon Rollason Elspeth Shannon Rollason 9:39 am 25 Apr 20

    Have you reported this rubbish through Fix My Street? I’ve found this very effective

    Lynn Stape Lynn Stape 2:02 pm 25 Apr 20

    Elspeth Shannon Rollason thanks, yes I have but to no avail.

Rainer Busacker Rainer Busacker 9:31 pm 24 Apr 20

Hope that there will be no Gum trees.

Liza Jensen Liza Jensen 8:19 pm 24 Apr 20

Hope they’re not gum trees 🙄

Be Kate Be Kate 7:11 pm 24 Apr 20

How about you build some houses for the homeless.

Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 7:09 pm 24 Apr 20

It's not the trees that start fires... It is the foliage on the ground. Canberra has lost a lot of trees due to land development and recent nature problems. What's wrong with planting a bunch of trees that are good for our health?

Julia Ross Julia Ross 3:57 pm 24 Apr 20

They may plant the trees but I reckon they will mostly be stolen or ripped up within a couple of weeks. There are some extremely destructive people in Canberra.

Vanessa Jones Vanessa Jones 3:45 pm 24 Apr 20

Any going in, in West Belconnen? I hope so.

Emma Greenhalgh Emma Greenhalgh 3:12 pm 24 Apr 20

They turned up out the front of our house planting a tree at 8am this morning. It’s been there less than 7 hours, and it already looks like it’s going to fall over. Our property is built on a giant rock, and I doubt it will survive 🤷‍♀️

They also said that we should have been emailed to tell us that it was going in our front yard, but the first I heard of it was them putting the tree in.

    Ellie Marks Ellie Marks 3:25 pm 24 Apr 20

    Emma Greenhalgh they did this to us when Brooklyn was a baby... a full size digger on the granite at 7 am. It lasted less than a week before being pulled out by a passer by. Funnily, they sent the truck to water it for almost a year... and even though they could clearly see it wasn’t there, they just kept watering the granite.

    Emma Greenhalgh Emma Greenhalgh 3:30 pm 24 Apr 20

    Ellie, I think ours will fall over in less than a week.

    Ellie Marks Ellie Marks 3:35 pm 24 Apr 20

    Emma Greenhalgh likely. We also were never told it was coming... but we then got a letter a week later telling us it was expected that we water it!

    Emma Greenhalgh Emma Greenhalgh 3:36 pm 24 Apr 20

    Ellie, yes, when I spoke to him this morning, he said that they are responsible for it’s care and watering, for 6 months, and then we are expected to maintain it.

Bre Tozer Bre Tozer 3:09 pm 24 Apr 20

This has already started along newlop street Ngunnawal 🙂

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 3:02 pm 24 Apr 20

Nice that trees in Ainslie Avenue will get some attention; they are heritage listed.

Kevin Hodder Kevin Hodder 2:42 pm 24 Apr 20

More trees that they wont trim over hanging the street

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