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Council to implement Tree Canopy Enhancement Program

Posted 28 August 2017 by (Hurstville News)

Administrator of Georges River Council, John Rayner, said Council is developing a Tree Canopy Enhancement Program in order to help maintain and increase the urban canopy within the local government area. Many parts of Georges River are characterised by natural features which include an established tree canopy. The tree canopy is a living asset which is highly valued by the community. Mr Rayner explained that the program will be part of the broader Urban Forest Strategy and Improvement Plan, which Council allocated $70,000 towards within the 2017-2018 budget. andldquo;This program will greatly assist Council to meet the objectives of the Urban Forest Strategy, which seeks to maintain and improve the number of trees within the Georges River area.andrdquo; andldquo;As part of the proposal to be considered by the incoming Council, there will be two approaches which will aim to support the replacement of trees that are removed from private properties,andrdquo; he said. andldquo;One approach will consist of introducing a Tree Replacement Bond for anyone who submits an application to have a tree removed from private property,andrdquo; he said. andldquo;This will consist of an applicant paying a bond in addition to the application assessment fee.andrdquo; andldquo;The bond would then be refunded when a replacement tree has been planted and established in accordance with Councilandrsquo;s Tree Planting Guidelines.andrdquo; andldquo;Under the planned approach, the tree replacement will be required to be carried out by the applicant within six months of the original tree removal.andrdquo; Mr Rayner said that in the instance where it is not practical for a replacement tree to be planted this is where the second approach will come into effect. andldquo;In the event where a replacement tree cannot be planted, the applicant will be instead required to pay a Tree Removal Offset Fee per tree in addition to the application assessment fee,andrdquo; he said. andldquo;The offset fee is a fixed price per tree, non-refundable and will be used to plant trees in accordance with Councilandrsquo;s Tree Map.andrdquo; andldquo;Council will enter into a deed with the applicant to undertake the planting on public land on their behalf.andrdquo; Mr Rayner said tree canopies are a primary component of the urban ecosystem and provide several environmental benefits including preventing erosion and improving water absorption and air quality. The policy is still being developed and Council is encouraging residents to visit Councilandrsquo;s website and provide their thoughts on the draft policy. andldquo;Trees also improve community wellbeing. They have been proven to have sociological benefits, and have also been shown to calm traffic and provide a buffer between pedestrians and cars,andrdquo; he said. Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Societyand#39;s Activities Officer Graham Fry said the group was strongly supportive of Councilandrsquo;s plans to develop the program. andldquo;We are also supportive of the councilandrsquo;s policy to increase urban tree cover within the George River area,andrdquo; he said. andldquo;One of the attractions of the area is the environment, particularly the mix of housing and high vegetation cover. It is hoped that this program will help stem the loss of trees and maintain the best aspects of living in the local area,andrdquo; he added. For more information on the program, please contact Council via 9330 6400.