As I campaign across the region all 2037km2 of it……it’s apparent to me just how critical the next four years of our Council will be.
I know we have to take action to address a decline in the overall vegetation across the region by encouraging the planting of more vegetation in public places but more importantly protecting existing vegetation, particularly on private land.
Council has either totally ignored or chosen to neglect the obvious. Either way, the alarm bells have been sounding for years now.
This will continue to be no easy task given the pressures of growth and development and with a hot dry climate, numerous competing interests and community expectations. But we need a strategy to head us in the right direction.
An Urban Forest Strategy aims to nurture a healthy, attractive and diverse urban forest to improve the health and wellbeing of current and future generations.
The term urban forest refers to all the trees and other vegetation in public and private spaces. It includes, for example, street and park trees, front and backyard vegetation, grasslands, shrubs, wetlands, nature strips, balcony plants, and green roofs and walls.
There is strong evidence that improving this urban forest through quality urban greening activities such as the planting of trees and vegetation contributes to liveability, community health and wellbeing, cooler neighbourhoods, higher property values, asset protection, and amenity values.
Improving tree canopy cover throughout the Moreton Bay Region will increase community health and liveability of our region.
The urban forest provides numerous physical and mental health benefits – reducing the impacts of heat and pollution, creating shaded streets and comfortable open spaces, and encouraging physical activity and a connection with nature.
We need to increase tree canopy cover in our streets and parks and acknowledge that private tree canopy is declining significantly.
The Moreton Bay regions landscape is under pressure from a growing population, urban densification and climate change.
Overdevelopment has resulted in a significant decline in vegetation and tree canopy what was once large parcels of private land.
This requires a strong response to protect existing trees and to enhance amenity and liveability through the planting of new canopy trees.
I want our Council to take action to respond to these challenges. To be strategic about this problem and commit appropriate resources to improve tree protection across the region as well as enhancing tree canopy cover.
Our Council over the four years must;
- Accurately define the existing level canopy cover across the region and set a target for protecting and increasing it to mitigate the impacts of heatwaves
- Set in place a program to improve both the health and successful establishment of Council trees
- Protect existing trees through improved planning and enforcement measures
- Maintain a zero reduction approach of trees on Council controlled land in the urban forest. Any trees removed will be strategically replaced subject
- Work with community groups and residents to support greening initiatives while fostering positive community attitudes towards urban forest
- Ensure species selected for planting in streetscapes, parks and Council managed land comply with best-practice standards and guidelines where practical be indigenous to the region
- Plant canopy trees across the region in designated streets and parks to fill vacant sites and replace under-performing trees
- Improve tree health and cooling through the integration of water-sensitive urban design
- Monitor and review progress to measure success and best practice
- Strengthen community custodianship and engagement in understanding, planting and valuing the urban forest
- Consultation is always the key. Council must have open channels for communication and of action for tree-related problems and issues. Safety and the amenity of residents will always be a priority
Responsibility for implementing the Urban Forest Strategy will go beyond Council’s management of its own parks, reserves and streetscapes and contributions from the whole community across the region will be valued an invested.