Council last night endorsed for the purpose of community engagement a draft tree strategy. A strategy designed to regenerate our Urban Forest.
Trees, which make up our Urban Forest, are however one of our if not our most valuable asset.
Most of us recognise that trees and therefore the Unley Urban Forest provide environmental benefits by way of supporting flora and fauna. They also protect against the urban heat island effect associated with cities, and climate change. And of course they provide an aesthetic contribution to the character of our streets and suburbs, the reason I suggest most coming to Unley are attracted too Unley.
Unley has some 26,000 trees, 22,000 of which are located in our streets.
The trouble is 47% of these trees have a useful life expectancy of less than 20 years. 7% or 1,570 trees will require replacement within the next 5 years. The rate of replacement will need to increase grammatically after this time too. This provides Council some significant challenges. This includes:
- Mature or ageing trees require increasing resources to manage and sustain.
- The environmental value reduces
- Older trees pose an increased element of public risk.
- Population density increase intruding into the privately owned section of the urban forest
- Ensuring a mix of species to protect against loss by disease to a specific species (noting we have 5,386 Jacarandas).
Probably the biggest challenge we face however is community expectation and resistance to change. Yes; you and I are one of the challenges and potentially the biggest challenge. If we are to maintain the urban forest of Unley we will have to accept that trees will need removing in order to allow for regeneration of new trees. This will mean some streets will see tree removal and this will likely cause angst among residents. We wont want to see this removal but the price we may likely pay is that a few years further along we may potentially see whole suburbs needing tree replacement at the same time.
The policy is a detailed analysis of how we can manage these challenges and ensure that our Urban Forest is maintained in a healthy state for generations to follow. You will be asked for your input and when the final draft is completed after this consultation we will inform you of the final approved policy.