National Tree Day

(11.30am 29 July 2012, Jubilee Park Glebe)

Thank you, Anna Bowden from Planet Ark. Good morning, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nationalities who live in our city.

Welcome to our National Tree Day celebrations for 2012. Today I have the privilege of planting this magnificent brushbox, as a symbol of the City's commitment to greening Sydney and to our association with Planet Ark.

And I hope you will all join us to help plant the 4,500 trees, shrubs and native grasses alongside our new pathway by Johnston's Canal. This will provide habitat for small birds and wildlife, in particular for the Superb Fairy wren which requires a dense under-storey.

Planet Ark has been organising National Tree Day since 1996 and it has resulted in the planting of a million trees nationally in the years since. If that sounds like an extravagant number, just reflect for a moment on the fact that, in the first 200 years of European settlement, we destroyed two-thirds of our forest cover.

Yet trees, shrubs and green spaces are vital for a host of reasons. They reduce stormwater runoff and pollution, filter the air that we breathe, shade our houses and streets and improve amenity and well-being.

They reduce cooling costs in summer and deciduous trees let winter sun through to reduce our consumption of electricity for heating and lighting.

A single mature tree can absorb 21 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year and release enough oxygen into the atmosphere to support two human beings.

Trees are probably our best friends, absorbing UV radiation by up to 80 per cent and providing an amazing range of social and health benefits, including lower crime rates and faster recovery rates from illness in areas where trees abound.

We know that there are over 30,000 street trees and 12,000 park trees in the public domain of our City, and we are working hard to increase the urban canopy by 50 per cent by 2030.

In the last 12 months, we've planted 1500 new trees, from seedlings to mature specimens and today we'll be boosting our green cover even further. And what we are planting here are all native to this local area.

So please join us getting some dirt under your nails, and also to enjoy the sausage sizzle and a guided local bush walk.

I wish you all a great day, and a greener tomorrow.