STEMMING tree canopy loss is the role of a new group of community environmentalists, councillors and mayors from Nedlands, Claremont, Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park who met in Swanbourne last week.
“Wildlife does not respect electoral boundaries and we have a lot of ecological issues that need addressing, including having a coordinated approach by all our councils on those issues,” group co-convenor and Cottesloe councillor Sally Pyvis said.
It is proposed the group connects residents and decision-makers about issues including tree canopies’ preservation, educating developers about their importance for public health and property values, water collection and climate change, while potentially influencing governments’ policies and laws.
Cr Pyvis said care would have to be taken for protecting tree canopy in private gardens, which were considered “the last bastion” of an individual’s right to trim or fell a tree.
Establishing a western suburbs tree group follows similar community-driven moves at the cities of Stirling and Belmont, both of which have had large falls in tree cover from infill, a lack of gardens in modern homes and a drying climate.
Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said a tree policy at his council saved about 200 trees while it lasted for about two years, before he and Mosman Park Mayor Ron Norris suggested the dormant Western Regional Organisation of Councils (WESROC) act as the bridge between the public and governments.
However, Shire of Peppermint Grove president Rachel Thomas said the WA Planning Commission would “strike out anything they don’t like” in local planning schemes that attempted to protect trees, including demanding more landscaping, prohibiting sealed driveways across the width of blocks and using terraces and spaces on roofs as gardens in building applications.
Claremont councillor and Friends of Lake Claremont member Bruce Haynes said the group could have a similar consultative role as the environmental group Friends of Lake Claremont.
“The Cottesloe beach car park is an expanse of tarmac, and every 10th or 20th bay could be ripped out and tree put in,” Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association president John Hammond said.
The group’s role will be determined using information gathered at the meeting, before another gathering is organised.