Landmark Urban Forest Strategy adopted by Moreland Council

August 10, 2017 at 7:24 pm Leave a comment

At the City of Moreland’s August Council meeting the draft Urban Forest Strategy was adopted. This is a major piece of policy for municipality wide climate adaptation and dealing with the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE). Moreland’s urban forest also provides significant shade and cooling to the urban environment, carbon removal, oxygen, biodiversity habitat, and reduced stormwater runoff.

Much work from dedicated council officers like Alex English, Moreland’s Open Space Planner, and many others, have gone into making this strategy document important.

The extensive community consultation resulted in a record number of submissions (257) on this policy, as well as 77 people attending consultation sessions. The adopted Policy document will be available shortly from the Moreland Council website.

Moreland had a goal of planting 5000 trees per year for the last few years, but this tended to result in a poorer selection of tree and less maintenance resulting in a 20 per cent mortality rate. The officer report recommended 3,500 annual street tree and 750 park/creek trees, with much more quality control, which was also supported by a 60% vote from the community.

An amendment at Council meeting increased the number of trees to be planted on a yearly basis back to 5000, with an extra $500,000 budget allocation for quality control of planting and ongoing maintenance. There was some concern whether this was appropriate in the debate at Council.

Cr Abboud explains why Council decided to increase the number to 5000 trees per year. The increased rate of planting will help to arrest earlier the decline in the total urban canopy.

“we will reach saturation of the public realm in 2019 rather than 2021 after which we can put all our energy into support and education about the importance of planting in the private realm.”

Moreland’s total urban canopy has been shrinking primarily due to urban consolidation (development). Most of the loss in tree canopy has been in the private sphere. Council street tree planting and parks planting have not been able to compensate for the reducing canopy in the private sphere.

In the past high tree planting targets have resulted in poor tree selection for planting and reduced maintenance resulting in a 20 per cent young tree mortality rate.

The Strategy was adopted with a unanimous vote of Moreland Council.

Some basis statistics from the Strategy Document

  • In 2017, Moreland has over 59,000 street trees and around 70,000 park trees
  • 95% of the current tree population assessed to have good canopy health
  • 57% of the current street tree population is comprised of trees less than 5 metres in height.
  • The majority of these trees will not attain canopy dimensions that will significantly contribute to the amenity and environmental benefits in their streetscapes.
  • 71% of street trees are expected to live for more than 30 years
  • 3% of street trees estimated to have life expectancy less than 10 years
  • Benefits

  • All of Moreland’s street trees have a combined amenity value of over $270 million
  • Moreland’s street trees store over 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and remove a further 912 tonnes annually.
  • The current environmental and amenity value/risk of an over reliance on the Family Myrtaceae: $179,441,036
  • An over reliance on small, short-lived trees limits the potential canopy and benefits of the urban forest.
  • 66% of tree species are from Myrtaceae Family
  • Callistemons make up 26% of street trees
  • Callistemon and Eucalyptus represent 46% of the current street tree population
  • 86% of tree species are from 20 Genera
  • 94% of trees are less than 10 metres in height
  • The low species diversity of Moreland’s urban forest makes it susceptibility to the widespread effects of current and introduced pests and disease, and the risk of large scale loss of these environmental assets from climatic extremes.
  • Tree canopy cover across Moreland was 14% in 2016
  • Overall tree canopy cover initially grew from 1989 through to 2005 but has since declined due to urban consolidation.
  • Street tree canopy and park tree canopy contribute just 2.4% and 2.6% of Moreland’s land cover respectively.
  • Despite the strong medical and scientific evidence base about the benefits of trees, in 2017 approximately 85% of Moreland’s streets are without any natural shade

Between 1989 and 2016:

  • Park tree canopy has grown 257%
  • Street tree canopy has increased 300%
  • Private tree canopy has declined 28% from 12.7% to 9.2%
  • The footprint of buildings has grown 15% from 26% to 30%
  • Urban consolidation is the main cause of declining canopy cover in the private realm since 2010. A reduction in canopy cover in streetscapes has been caused by: the Tulla Freeway widening; new development cross overs; and, powerline pruning and clearance programs.
  • Canopy cover from street trees varies across Moreland’s suburbs from 4.5% in Gowanbrae to less than 1% in Hadfield and Oak Park.

Four graphs that help to explain Moreland’s urban forest

Click to see larger versions

Entry filed under: climate change info, Moreland Council, urban forest. Tags: , , , , .

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