Trees, trees, trees.
We can’t plant enough trees. But we can certainly give it a good try.
When I joined the Hobsons Bay City Council in 1999, the municipality had about 64,000 trees in its streets and reserves.
The level of street tree planting was recognised as low at the time.
When Hobsons Bay was hit by the millennium drought, which began in 2001 and lasted until about 2009, a lot of trees were lost and the council had trouble replacing them quick enough.
About 2004, HBCC developed a geographic information system (GIS) database which recorded our tree assets with data such as tree type, size, location and condition.
That year it was recommended we lift our tree planting expenditure to $100,000 a year.
Most of the biggest gaps identified were in Altona Meadows.
Fast forward to now and HBCC is about to up the ante to $360,000 a year for the next 10 years to plant more trees as part of its Urban Forest Strategy.
All up, about $19.5 million will be required in both the capital and operational budgets to fulfil the UFS goals.
The city now has 76,000 trees in its streets and public reserves, with about half as much again on private property, such as residences and industrial sites.
Currently, the tree canopy cover in the municipality is 7.5 per cent, but under the UFS, we ambitiously want to raise that to 30 per cent by 2040.
Trees not only have aesthetic benefits and environmental benefits, such as improving air quality, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and reducing stormwater runoff, but they can also reduce ambient temperatures by up to 10 degrees C.
One of the objectives of the UFS is to develop an integrated approach to planning of our city with trees at the forefront.
We will be encouraging more trees to be planted on private properties, increasing the range of tree species planted in our streets and reserves and linking in plantings to our Diversity Strategy.
Our priority area for tree planting in the immediate few years is along the Westgate Freeway corridor.
So Brooklyn, Altona North, South Kingsville and Spotswood should see more plantings from this year onwards.