The Urban Forest is all urban vegetation such as Council owned street and park trees, the plants and trees in back and front yards, and the vegetation along urban waterways, in reserves and on other major landholder’s land.
Greater Shepparton City Council Director Infrastructure Steve Bowmaker said the emphasis of an Urban Forest Strategy is deliberate planning for a greener, shadier city and providing the right trees in the right location for greater canopy cover.
“There are distinct benefits for the whole community encompassing economic, health and wellbeing, and environmental benefits,” said Mr Bowmaker.
“People spend more time in shopping areas that are well treed and landscaped which benefits retail businesses. Well planned and landscaped streets also increase house prices and reduce energy use in buildings.”
“Importantly an Urban Forest also improves the liveability of our towns and is a cost effective and efficient way to adapt urban areas to climate change through provision of shade, evapotranspiration and stormwater interception,” said Mr Bowmaker.
The development of the Strategy involved the mapping of every street tree in Shepparton, Mooroopna and Tatura to gain an accurate record of where trees are located, missing, damaged or nearing the end of their life.
“The tree audit provided a very detailed plan of our canopy cover so we could develop a strategic implementation plan to ensure appropriate species selection for the region and renewing or replacing trees,” he said.
Mr Bowmaker said Greater Shepparton has approximately 37,000 trees in streets, parks and reserves with varied cover and an ageing tree population. Approximately 19,000 of these are in Shepparton, 6,000 are in Mooroopna, 4,000 in Tatura and 8,000 in other towns and locations.
“Trees are one of our highest valued assets yet the value of trees to the wellbeing of our community is not often thought about. Trees in the right places reduce the impact of heat on our streets and provide shade so it is more comfortable for people to walk or be active in hotter months. There are well known benefits to increased activity on our physical and mental wellbeing.”
“A carefully planned tree planting can positively impact on residents. Where trees are planted to maximise the cooling effect they have on houses they can reduce residents’ energy costs. Trees also reduce air pollution, capture storm water to help prevent flooding, support biodiversity and store carbon, slowing the rate that carbon accumulates in the atmosphere,” said Mr Bowmaker.
“An Urban Forest Strategy has a long term implementation plan over 10-15 years. Once the Strategy is adopted by Council we can then start improving our streetscapes,” he said. “In 10 to 15 years we will see the benefit for the whole community from this Strategy. It’s certainly a very exciting project for Council to be involved in.”
“The Strategy focuses with Shepparton, Mooroopna and Tatura but may be rolled out to small towns in the future as part of the Community Plan process,” said Mr Bowmaker.
This consultation has now closed.