29 July 2020

Why the ACT election should be the environment election

| Rebecca Vassarotti MLA
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Trees in the ACT

The environment – specifically, trees – has become a focus of the 2020 ACT election. Photo: Daniella Jukic.

After a horrific summer of bushfires where the climate crisis was thick in the air, Canberrans’ concern about our climate and environment has never been greater.

As we head to the polls on 17 October, it seems that the old parties have picked up on the real concerns of our community. Even the Canberra Liberals, who through this last Assembly term have ridiculed student climate strikers and voted against energy efficiency programs for low-income households, have announced a plan for kindy kids to plant trees.

So it is easy to see why the upcoming election has been branded the ‘Trees Election’.

But it is clear that the community knows that the environmental challenges our city, our nation and our globe are facing will not be solved by trees alone. We need decisions and actions now that will protect our biodiversity too, and see long-term investment in our living infrastructure. Trees are an important part of this, but they’re certainly not the only part.

After being devastated by climate change, habitat loss and bushfires, Canberra’s precious natural environment needs a comprehensive plan to protect and restore it. This is vital if we are to remain the Bush Capital and ensure that this city remains livable in a changing climate.

Canberra needs a better ‘normal’, where there is sustained climate action and the ACT is a place where our trees, plants, animals and ecosystems can thrive.

Earlier this week the ACT Greens announced a $53 million Repairing the Land conservation plan which will expand Canberra’s wetlands, look after our bush and support our ecosystems.

This is about a real environment plan, one that sees investment in more green spaces, creating neighbourhood forests, protecting existing trees – especially those with habitat hollows, and encouraging more rooftop and vertical gardens.

The policy moves beyond short-term election promises to a long-term plan to restore, strengthen and better manage the ACT’s unique ecosystems far into the future.

It’s about readying our city for our new climate reality. We must act now to protect our environment and address the heat island effect, and with the same boldness and decisiveness as we have the COVID-19 crisis.

Now is the time to not only plant the seeds of climate action but also to put in place the strategy to continue to nurture our landscape as it adapts to the changing climate. Our country needs it and so does our community, so we can have biodiversity in our future.

Rebecca Vassarotti is an ACT Greens candidate for Kurrajong in the upcoming Territory election.

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Because of the ACT Greens and their preference for native trees over deciduous exotics, Canberra now has an unhealthy dominance of Eucalyptus varieties. The most common species recorded in an audit of trees in urban Canberra was the Red Spotted Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera), which made up 25% of the tree population, resulting in it being an over-dominant species in the urban forest. Generally, experts suggest that no one species should represent more than 5 to 10% of an urban tree population. A high level of diversity among tree species helps build resilience against disease, pests and climate change. The most common exotic trees were Pin Oaks (2%) and Claret Ash (2%).
If the ACT Greens cannot comprehend, let alone manage a balanced tree program, what good are they?

People don’t care about nonsensical greens policies and hair brained schemes. They care about the cost of living, which will continue to rise if we allow the greens to continue wasting money on nonsense.

The only plans the greens actually have for the bush is locking people out of it.

HiddenDragon7:43 pm 30 Jul 20

“Greens means Barr.”

Bravo! – and really only one variety, not 57.

The hypocritical Greens are responsible for the loss of trees in the city because it is they who keep apartment fixated Andrew Barr in power. Suburbs like Ainslie, Hacket and O’Connor with lots of trees are about 4 degrees cooler in summer and 4 degrees warmer in winter due to the tree canopy. Under the ‘Greens’/Barr, Canberra has become less green and more concrete. Greens means Barr.

Not sure I agree entirely. Building ‘up’ equals building better. Increased urban density ultimately means less new suburbs, and wholesale and ever-expanding clearance of land. Agree when new apartments go up that more trees should be considered though.

Dorinda Lillington8:06 am 30 Jul 20

That’s great and I hope that in that money there is an allocation to control the massive weed problem we have.

Capital Retro8:01 am 30 Jul 20

What is the Green’s plan to stop China building more coal-fired power stations?

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