BAYSWATER council is set to tap into the troubled carbon offset market to help fund a groundbreaking $2.4 million urban forest at Riverside Gardens.
At Tuesday’s ordinary meeting the council voted to negotiate a partnership agreement with Greening Australia, who would transform the four-hectare site through Western Australia’s first Nature in Cities project.
The council already has $1 million for the project courtesy of a pre-election commitment from Labor, but is examining whether part of the site could be used as a carbon offset to help raise some of the estimated $770,000 shortfall.
“The mayor and executive have been working on securing a significant offset that is required for a major infrastructure upgrade project in the Perth metropolitan area,” a staff report to the council said, noting other organisations were also on the hunt for places to offset their native vegetation clearing.
As part of the plan, Bayswater is also looking a creating a biodiversity corridor between Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary and Gobba Lake, which would deliver an extra two hectares of revegetation.
Mayor Filomena Piffaretti said the project had the potential to be a flagship for the Nature In Cities program across Western Australia.
“We are thinking outside the box and looking for innovative solutions,” Cr Piffaretti said.
“I think this is an excellent example of how this council is committed to finding opportunities to partner with the private sector to deliver outcomes for our community without always going with our hand out to the ratepayers.”
Councillor Michelle Sutherland had a couple of suggestions for making up the shortfall other than carbon offsets.
“I think the amount of trees lost due to infrastructure upgrades around the city has been obvious, and I think it should be a no-brainer that the state government could give us some more funds for this because they are our natural assets.”
Cr Sutherland said the Albanese government was also sitting on a climate change initiative fund which she urged the council to investigate.
Councillor Lorna Clarke said residents were very excited about getting on with the project, and she’d been advised the first trees might go in by winter 2024. But she said the council had to be careful with its planning.
“When you actually put climate change maps of this area down at Riverside Gardens, half of Riverside Gardens ends up under water in the next 20 to 30 years, so we are going to have to do some more work in terms of providing more public open space that is actually arguably further up the hill,” Cr Clarke said.
“The more that we can do that in terms of that link to Gobba Lake, but also some of that land that hasn’t yet been built on closer towards the Tonkin [Highway], the better that we can mitigate those climate change impacts.”
Cr Clarke also noted there were some risks of dabbling in the offset market given the recent federal review, but said she was sure they could be overcome.
by STEVE GRANT