What’s the value of having a strong network of trees across a region?
Boasting more attractive tree-lined streets, a consistent canopy across the city and pushing Greater Shepparton as a clean, green place seem to be clear benefits of the city’s urban forest strategy.
The document will tonight be considered by councillors, signalling a strategic framework to manage and plan the city’s tree population.
In drafting the strategy, the council embarked on an exhaustive tree audit, counting and assessing the city’s trees — all 28000 across Shepparton, Mooroopna and Tatura — measuring their age and condition.
Out of this work emerged some data about the state of the region’s tree population of about 37000 in the Greater Shepparton area.
Key to this work was not just where trees now live, but also where they could be.
Officers looked at vacant spaces across the municipality and identified locations that had the capacity to house more trees.
The audit highlighted nearly 6000 sites where trees could live, highlighting that planting at these spots would create ‘‘short-term visual and social benefits and longer term environmental and economic benefits’’.
Admirably, areas of social vulnerability will be prioritised in these 6000 sites, such as areas with residents at highest risk during heat events.
A broader aim is to make the city more attractive, vibrant and liveable with ‘‘well-connected green spaces that are valued by the community’’.
This is in line with a positive re-embrace of the region’s renewable potential with solar projects and directing the city away from a dependence on cars, towards cycling links and increased access to and use of public transport.
Notable among the recent findings was a canopy cover of 18 per cent in Shepparton, 20 per cent in Mooroopna and 25 per cent in Tatura. Some regional cities are aspiring for 40 per cent coverage — a welcome goal to work towards.
Aside from signalling positive direction for the city, perhaps most commendable is the future planning element of the newly-proposed strategy.
Best practice urban forest management outlines 10 per cent tree renewals each decade.
However, the recent audit identified a possible 38 per cent loss of trees from the year 2037 onwards across Greater Shepparton, demanding more resources and solid planning.
This strategy is welcome in sketching out a greener future for Shepparton and surrounds, ensuring solid future planning is possible, and presents positive signs about the more liveable, attractive and clean community residents can look forward to.