Building our urban forest

Trees and plants play an essential role in creating great streets, parks and public places.

Sydney will become an even leafier and healthier place under the City of Sydney's new Urban Forest Strategy which was supported by the Environment Committee this week.

There are around 81,000 trees in the City of Sydney area which provide a canopy cover of just over 15 per cent. Our goal is to grow our green canopy by 50 per cent by 2030.

Along with our Tree Management and Footpath Gardening Policy, the Strategy will help reduce power bills, beautify inner-city properties and streets, reduce air pollution and improve the quality of stormwater run-off.

In just 12 months, one mature tree can absorb 3,400 litres of stormwater, filter 27 kilograms of pollutants from the air and provide a cooling effect equivalent to continuously running 10 air conditioners.

In the city centre and along main streets trees shade pedestrians, diminishing traffic noise, screening unwanted views and reducing glare.

Even in the harshest urban environments such as along Cleveland Street, we have been able to improve the environment with trees, shrubs and ground covers.

We will improve the diversity of the species of trees planted, including more indigenous varieties, and make more space for local wildlife.

The City has conducted a five-year review of its Tree Management Policy, and will soon also finalise a Footpath Gardening Policy that introduces a 'red-tape free' process for residents to plant verges, nature strips and place planter boxes on public footpaths.

By introducing a simple checklist, we have streamlined the process for people to green their own neighbourhoods without blocking footpaths or creating pedestrian hazards.

I hope these changes will encourage you to green your own neighbourhood.

The draft Urban Forest Strategy and Tree Management Policy will go on display for public viewing and community comment after next week's Council meeting.

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