Thursday, 8 March 2018

Get active: comment on Wollongong City Council's draft policies on trees in public places

This is just a quick (text-heavy!) post to let Wollongong residents know that there is an opportunity to comment on some draft policies that Wollongong City Council currently has on exhibition relating to trees in public places. It's is a great opportunity tell Council how much you value local native trees on public land, and help improve their policies.  

The draft Public Tree Management Policy covers (in relation to public land):
- tree protection
- tree planting and species selection (though species lists are not included) 
- tree replacement and removal
- tree asset management and
- community consultation and engagement.

The overall objectives are commendable, and include increasing the City's canopy cover, improving the ecological function of urban areas, and protecting significant trees. 

But key issues are yet to be resolved  - lists of suitable tree species are yet to come, in a foreshadowed Urban Greening Technical Manual. And the policy is ambiguous in its promotion of species diversity - does it mean just a wider range of species from around the world, or greater diversity of local native species?  

Key takeaway: if you have the time and energy, write to Council and support the policy, but ask for a stronger emphasis on prioritising local native tree species for plantings in public places. 

The draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy covers: 
- Council's strong objection to tree and vegetation vandalism on Council owned or managed land
- policy responses (education, prevention, monitoring and regulation/enforcement), and 
- resources to implement the policy

This policy articulates a stronger approach than is currently in place, and may help shift residents' attitudes if vigorously applied. In particular, the approach to regulation and enforcement allows for a range of strong options that do not appear to have been applied to date. 

These are important improvements, but they are being introduced at a time when there have been several major attacks on trees and vegetation in public areas, particularly in beachside areas with vegetation that is between housing and the sea. Serious backup is necessary in order for this policy to take effect and change culture. 

Key takeaway: please let Council know that this is a big improvement, but needs to be properly resourced and backed up by attitudes at the top (Councillors and senior council employees) to have a chance of success. 

Sorry, there's not been a single picture yet. Here's a gratuitous shot to thank you for reading this far!!!
Yes this is a verge! (Plus a bit of garden.) It hosts
some beautiful large habitat trees that bring in birds
and bats, plus various shrubs and understorey plants. 
Both policies are available at http://www.haveyoursaywollongong.com.au/trees-in-public-spaces-2018. Comments are due by Wednesday 21 March.

And bonus gratuitious shot: grow natives and you might get Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos in your garden!


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