Council puts down roots on canopy issue

CITY of Stirling councillors unanimously supported a “comprehensive tree protection policy” that will eventually mandate tree retention and have trees placed on a protection register.

The move comes after the City released data showing 290ha of tree canopy could be lost on private land if development continued at the current rate.

Councillor Samantha Jenkinson, who originally put forward the 18 per cent tree canopy target the City adopted in November 2014, said tree retention should be classed as an amenity for the community.

The council currently has a 12.7 per cent tree canopy cover.

“We are the first council who are actually taking a bite of this cherry, which is fantastic,” Cr Jenkinson said.

Cr Jenkinson said the City should spend the same amount of time and money on trees as it did on providing adequate parking.

She presented an alternative recommendation supporting the plan, despite council officers advising council to support a less detailed option.

Councillors supported the comprehensive plan, which requires significant trees to be placed on a protected register.

Cr Jenkinson said while all councillors supported the plan, it required more research that could be done over the next four or five years.

“The reason I’ve put forward the motion is that it gives us the chance to work on the details over a four to five-year period while not leaving us doing nothing in the interim,” she said.

Stirling Urban Tree Network convener Leisha Jack said she was happy the comprehensive plan was considered for the future.

“It’s great the City has put this on the agenda but they have to be careful with stalling tactics,” Ms Jack said.

“I would have liked to see some agreement to do a public education program because some people understand why they should keep trees in the first place.

“It’s like the tobacco industry; developers do everything they can do to set it back a year.

“The City has done well raising the profile of this important issue.”

Joondalup resident and tree activist Rainer Repke said he wanted other councils to follow in the footsteps of Stirling and implement tree policies.

“It is a really positive move and hopefully it will spread to the other councils,” he said.

The draft will be open for public comment.