Thousands of street trees to be planted in Greater Geelong to cool sizzled suburbs:

Under a new council plan, Greater Geelong is set to plant thousands of street trees to grow the region’s urban forest and cool its hottest suburbs. These include Corio, Norlane, and Whittington, where new trees are set to mitigate summer heatwaves and provide environmental benefits.

Councillors backed the plan to turn Geelong into a “cool green city for the future” at a recent public meeting. The Urban Forest Strategy shows the city’s budget allows it to plant 1050 advanced street trees a year, but it chops down almost that many (1000) due to old age, disease, and new developments. The net gain of 50 trees is below the stated aim of 400 additional trees per year, so the strategy aims to increase plantings by 500 a year at an estimated cost of $200,000.

Councillors were told suburbs of social disadvantage, such as Corio, Norlane, and Whittington, would benefit from plantings because they had little tree coverage and were among the areas that suffered most on Geelong’s hottest days.

Austin Ward Councillor, Jock Irvine, said Whittington residents had responded well to the trees planted in their neighbourhood, many volunteering to maintain them. “We need to start in the more barren areas,” Councillor Irvine said. “It’s hard to put a value on beautifying a neighbourhood and a streetscape, but it is important. In some cases people might feel like they don’t get a lot in life, so they respond very well when the council comes and gives them another reason to take pride in where they live. Obviously, there’s a cost to council but the problem is that we didn’t plant enough trees in the first place. The leafy streets of Newtown and Herne Hill are only the way they are now because the effort was made a long time ago and now those trees are established.”

The city used satellite thermal imagery to show areas of Geelong that heat up more quickly and then retain that heat into the night. The northern industrial zone was singled out as a hotspot, and therefore a priority for planting. The report also highlighted a variety of benefits trees would provide, including cooling neighbourhoods, improving air quality, saving energy, and leveraging stormwater.