STIRLING council is poised to water down its target for tree canopy coverage after admitting it can’t keep pace with the clearing of backyards.
Five years ago the council set a target of 18 per cent canopy coverage by 2030, but at last Tuesday’s community and resource committee, councillors decided that was too ambitious because of the scale of private development in the city.
When the target was initially set the city had just 10.59 per cent coverage, and despite Stirling’s “million trees policy” that only improved to 12.6 per cent last year.
Councillors now hope to get to 18 per cent by 2040.
But it’s an uphill battle, with staff predicting that if developers don’t stop felling trees, up to 85 per cent of tree coverage on residential land in some suburbs could be lost by 2029.
In the last six years the city lost 1.2 million square metres of canopy cover.
Instead of penalising tree-lopping developers, officers recommended an incentive-based approach of support and assistance to make retaining and planting trees easier.
They also say it will need a co-ordinated effort between the council, state government and residents.
Stirling is drafting a new Urban Forest Plan to tackle the canopy shortfall, which will be considered along with the revised target at the full council meeting later this month.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK