Stirling beefs up tree protection

STIRLING council has strengthened its tree protection with new requirements for developers and more regulations on the horizon for tree retention on private land.

The council’s goal is to reach 18 percent tree canopy cover by 2030, but it’s currently at 12.9 percent and 81 hectares of canopy have been cleared in the last four years.

Its parks and reserves team is on track to meet a planting target of 1 million trees/shrubs by 2025, but can’t keep pace with the number of trees being cut down on private property.

In October the council adopted an amendment to the city’s planning scheme which requires developers to plant an “advanced” tree (at least two metres high and two years old) for every 500sqm if there are no existing trees on the land.

Developers will also have to pay for a street tree if the verge is barren. The amendments have been forwarded to the WA planning commission for final approval.

City officers are also looking to regulate “significant” trees on private land, but submissions have already been sent in saying it’s unacceptable to dictate what residents do on their own property, so it’ll be a controversial item when it comes before council in early 2017.

Stirling uses the Helliwell method to place a monetary value on an individual tree based on its visual amenity.

Mayor Giovanni Italiano was thrilled at the progress of the million trees initiative which was launched in 2009.

“This year alone, the city planted 126,795 trees and shrubs, which is a remarkable 40 per cent above our previous record,” Mr Italiano said.

“We are now sitting at a cumulative total of 518,188, which means we’re ahead of our target by almost 20,000 plantings.”

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