The City of Unley has endorsed a Tree Canopy Improvement Action Plan in a bid to achieve a 20 per cent increase in tree canopy coverage by 2045, equating to 14,000 new trees throughout the City.
City of Unley Mayor Michael Hewitson said the plan, endorsed at a Council meeting on Monday March 25, would ensure the City retained its unique natural character and leafy streets for generations to come.
“The City of Unley is well-known around Australia for its shady, leafy streets, which greatly adds to the character of the streetscapes and of course local property values,” Mayor Hewitson said.
“On top of the obvious visual appeal, this Action Plan considers environmental issues such as increasing temperatures and the impact that heatwaves have on vulnerable residents. By reducing day and night time temperatures in summer and providing critical shade, this plan will achieve many Council objectives.”
The Canopy Improvement Action Plan proposes a range of advocacy, practical, supportive and education projects across a five-year period with an outlook to the 2045 targets and includes the following seven themes: Target Investment, Council Planting, Community Education, Maintain Existing Trees, Advocating for Canopy Cover on Private Land, Council Collaboration and Collaboration with Resilient East.
The plan recommends $195,000 of projects in the first year of the five-year plan, including an accelerated planting program to maximise public planting. Overall, Council has approximately $700,000 budgeted for tree related initiatives this year.
“Trees are a long-term investment asset and it will take approximately 20 years to see the full impact of actions taken today, meaning the sooner we start the sooner we can all enjoy the benefits,” Mayor Hewitson said.
In July 2018, Council endorsed a joint mission statement and strategy on canopy cover as part of the Resilient East project, aligning with the State Government’s 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide target to increase green cover by a proportional 20 per cent by 2045.
Mayor Hewitson said the plan would not be without its challenges.
“Improving tree canopy cover is challenging in urban areas, with competition for space from opposing land-use such as in-fill development and land owned by the private sector. In the City of Unley approximately 80 per cent of the land is privately owned with only 16 per cent being Council land,” he said.
“Importantly backyards and front gardens make significant contributions to urban greenery and the broader community. Actions that aim to support retention of existing trees are just as crucial as any that encourage new planting.”
The City of Unley is advocating for the State Government to consider provisions to support trees in the development of the new Planning and Design Code, which will replace the existing 68 individual Council development plans.
“Council continues to work with the State Government to influence changes to the State planning policy that supports increase in green cover on private developments,” Mayor Hewitson said.
“Council cannot achieve 31 per cent tree cover across the city on only 16 per cent of the land. The nature of new developments means we must advocate the State Government to mandate a minimum of 15 per cent tree canopy cover on all new developments to achieve our target.”
“The success of our tree canopy targets relies on our community valuing and supporting the role of trees and it’s very encouraging to see Council endorse the Tree Canopy Improvement Action Plan and embrace a positive vision for the future of Unley’s Trees.”
To view the plan, please visit our Urban Forest page