What is an Urban Forest Strategy?
An urban forest is broadly defined as the collection of green spaces, trees and other vegetation that grows within an urban area, on both public and private land. It provides a range of social, environmental and economic benefits that enrich the quality of urban life. Most importantly it provides shade which reduces the ground surface temperature.
How do we measure the success of the strategy?
One of the ways that urban forest is measured is the size of the tree canopy cover. Tree canopy consists of the branches and leaves of a tree, not the number of trees, that is, the amount of canopy cover that has the greatest impact on shade and resultant cooling. This means it's important to not only plant new trees, but to protect established trees with large canopies because they provide the greater benefit. The individual tree canopy is not included in the statistics until it exceeds three metres in diameter.
The following images show the change of vegetation across the City from 2009 to 2016 for the City and a closer look at the Dalkeith area (Point Resolution Reserve, David Cruickshank Reserve and the Nedlands Foreshore).
What does the strategy cover?
The City of Nedlands Urban Forest Strategy only deals with the forest in the public domain. The City will continue to monitor the condition of the trees on private land but does not prescribe to control them within this strategy.
What did the Nedlands bushland forest look like?
Pre-European settlement, the City of Nedlands landscape was characterised by a mosaic of Tuart, Jarrah, Marri and Banksia open forest and woodlands. Tuart was dominant towards the coast, with Jarrah becoming more dominant on deeper inland sands and Marri occurring on moister sites. Fringing coastal areas were characterised by coastal shrublands and grasslands and fringing river foreshore areas consisted of native sedge lands. The pre – European canopy cover within the City would have been relatively open and irregular.
What does our urban forest look like now and in the future?
The City currently has 22,188 public trees (Asset Finda: 1/03/18). These consist of 17,277 street trees and 4,911 within parks and reserves excluding bushland.
The City has planted an average of approximately 760 trees per annum for the past three years in the public domain and an average of 570 trees per annum in road reserves and parks (refer table below).
If this trend continues, it is anticipated that the 20 per cent increase in potential canopy could be achieved in ten years if the current planting regime is maintained (960 per annum) and there is no spike in tree mortality during this period. Potential canopy recognises that the new plantings are not mature trees.
Is the Urban Forest Strategy consistent with the Community Strategic Plan - Nedlands 2028
The Nedlands 2028 plan includes a series of statements and priorities from the community related to the urban forest:
The development of the previous Strategic Community Plan, Nedlands 2023, identified evidence of a decline in the condition of the community’s assets was starting to show. This was because they were at a natural point in their life cycle where reinvestment was needed. Strategic Issues facing the community included:
- Variations in weather patterns
- Water shortages and groundwater availability
- Reduced tree canopy
Nedlands 2028 Community Vision: Our gardens, streets, parks and bushland will be clean, green and tree-lined and we will live sustainably within the natural environment.
Nedlands 2028 Community Values: We protect our enhanced, engaging community spaces, heritage, the natural environment and our biodiversity through well planned and managed development.
Nedlands 2018 Priorities:
Strategic Priority: Urban Form - Protect our quality living environment
- Provide, retain and maintain public trees in streets and on reserves to at least maintain the urban forest canopy
Strategic Priority: Renewal of community infrastructure:
- Invest in drainage upgrades focusing on minimising flooding, maximising stormwater infiltration at source and minimising pollutant discharge to the Swan River
- Invest in parks infrastructure in accordance with enviro-scape master plans
Strategic Priority: Retain remnant bushland and cultural heritage:
- Revegetate remnant bushland areas
- Develop greenway corridors
- Undertake tree planting in public areas
- Restore coastal and estuarine areas
- Maintain parks and other green spaces