Canopy loss: The heat is on


Leisha Jack of Stirling Urban Trees Network.
Leisha Jack of Stirling Urban Trees Network.

The City will spend up to $78 million over 15 years planting trees to combat tree canopy loss on private land, but Planning manager Fraser Henderson said it was difficult to stop developers removing existing trees.

“If current rate of loss continues to 2030, the City would lose an estimated 290 hectares of tree canopy cover across the City, with nearly half of the current residential tree canopy cover being lost over the next 15 years,” Mr Henderson said.

“The issue is that the Planning and Development Act (2005) does not recognise the removal of vegetation as development.

“This limits the ability for local authorities to regulate the removal of existing or established trees on private property.”

The City will consider four options at tonight’s council meeting to amend planning policy in favour of tree retention, including requiring developers to plant or pay cash-in-lieu to fund new trees on public land.

Stirling has set a goal of 18 per cent canopy cover, a figure that currently sits at 12.7 per cent and plan to plant 7000 trees a year on public land. For the City to achieve this goal, 22,000 trees per year would need to be planted – three times the current planting rate.

Mr Henderson said the urban heat island effect was a concern for the City.

“Impacts can include increased energy consumption as people try to cool their houses using air conditioners, increased emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses and health issues including dehydration, heat stress, heat stroke and respiratory complications,” he said.

The Stirling Urban Trees Network is urging the City to act.

Group convener Leisha Jack said more attention needed to be put into protecting tree canopy.

“Existing trees provide canopy cover, new trees don’t for around 20 years,” Ms Jack said.

“If the West Australian Plan-

“Cities over East and around the world are protecting trees, we must too.”

Ms Jack presented a deputation for the Stirling Urban Trees Network at a Planning and Committee meeting last Tuesday.