Council seeks community comment on first Urban Forest Strategy
Bass Coast Shire Council has today released its draft Urban Forest Strategy for community consultation, as the council seeks to grow and care for the urban forest.
The Urban Forest Strategy will be the first of its kind for Bass Coast. It sets out a plan to protect and grow the area’s urban forest with a target of a 40% canopy coverage by 2040. To ensure the social, economic and environmental benefits of urban greening are optimised and enjoyed by all, the plan also aims to ensure that no neighbourhood falls below 25% canopy coverage.
Urban forests are made up of all trees and vegetation in an urban area, including street trees, nature strips, parks, open space as well as backyards, industrial areas and conservation sites.
Under the strategy, the council has committed to planting 1500 trees annually – an increase of approximately 1200 trees a year on the current program. The use of species that adapt well to the area’s changing climate, particularly native and indigenous vegetation, will be prioritised.
In addition, the council plans to compile a detailed tree inventory, will continue to support tree protection mechanisms and develop a Street and Park Tree Protection and Removal Policy with clear protocols for tree protection.
Bass Coast Mayor Michael Whelan said Bass Coast’s existing urban forest was under increasing pressure from development and climate change and the best defence was to grow the urban forest.
“Our urban forest already delivers so many benefits. As it grows it will play a critical role in capturing carbon, providing habitat for our birds and wildlife. And let’s not underestimate the health and wellbeing benefits trees and gardens bring by cooling our urban environment and providing a connection with nature,” Cr Whelan said.
“While most of our townships enjoy a decent amount of greenery, with an average of 25% urban forest cover across our largest townships, we can’t afford to take that for granted. Today’s urban forest faces some serious threats such as climate change and urban development.
“A long-term strategic investment in the planning, maintenance and management of our urban forest is needed to address these challenges. We need to work together – Council, developer’s, residents, volunteers and others – to maximise the social, economic and environmental returns for our region into the future.
“We hope our community and landholders will embrace our vision for urban greening and grow the urban forest on their land too.”
To register feedback on the Urban Forest Strategy, Shaping our urban forest approach | Engage Bass Coast at engage.basscoast.vic.gov.au/urban-forest
Council will take public comment on the Strategy until 20th February 2023. Feedback from the community consultation will inform the final strategy, which will be released before June 2023.