Posted by Joe Gooden on Wed, Dec 05, 2018 @ 1:03 AM
Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline
Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council and the Waitemata District Council in New Zealand might be oceans apart, but they do share a common concern – the decline of their urban tree canopy due to growing populations and overdevelopment.
Research conducted by Greater Sydney Commission in 2017 showed that some of Sydney’s leafiest areas including Warringah, Hornsby and Willoughby have seen the highest percentage of loss in their urban tree canopy.
Similarly, Waitemata, just north of Auckland in New Zealand, has lost almost 13,000 trees between 2006 and 2016, due to increased private land ownership and high development rates. To combat the decline of their urban forests, local governments are exploring new ways to revive urban greenery in cities.
Auckland greening initiatives
Auckland City Council has launched a new program called ‘urban ngahere,’ meaning ‘network of trees’, which aims to increase city greenery by up to 30 per cent. The program coordinates planting initiatives with members of the local community – like schools, farmers, developers and social groups – to plant and maintain trees across Auckland. These efforts are complimented by a three-pronged strategy that includes interpreting data around tree loss, growing canopy and protecting trees from pests and diseases.
John Mauro, the council’s chief sustainability officer, said that Auckland is one of many large cities under pressure to protect trees against overdevelopment, population growth and other factors like climate change.
“A healthy urban forest enriches our communities, our local economies and our natural environment. Auckland cannot become a world-class city without a great urban forest,” he said.
“Some of the key challenges to our urban forest that we are monitoring include; population growth and urbanisation, ongoing issues with weed and pest control, diseases such as kauri dieback and myrtle rust and factors caused by climate change,” Mr Mauro said.
Another exciting initiative in New Zealand is the Million Trees project, which aims to plant one million native trees and scrubs across Auckland in three years. This partnership between Mayor Phil Goff and the New Zealand Department of Corrections has already facilitated the planting of 750,000 trees to date, with inmates managing tree planting and maintenance.
Sydney greening initiatives
Across the sea, the Sydney Northern Beaches’ Council has joined Auckland City Council in exploring innovative ways to counteract development and increase urban tree canopy.
Compelled by a recent population boom, the council has launched a draft Urban Tree Canopy Plan to protect tree cover in the Sydney Metropolitan area. The plan aims to ease the impacts of Sydney’s growing population by planting 5,000 new trees each year, plus introducing an offset program that will plant two new trees for every one that is removed.
Michael Regan, Northern Beaches Mayor, said the plan will be supported monitoring the tree population, and encouraging support from the Sydney community.
“The immediate focus will be on collating accurate baseline data to allow us to monitor the actions of the plan and ultimately measure how successful we are in protecting and maintaining a healthy and diverse canopy cover,” he said.
“Engaging our community in protecting and enhancing our urban trees will also be a critical factor in achieving the objectives of the Urban Tree Canopy Plan.”