The tree audit involves 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.
Greater Shepparton City Council Director Infrastructure Steve Bowmaker said the audit was the first step in developing an Urban Forest Strategy. “We need to know how our streetscapes are performing and where changes can be made in order to improve the long term liveability of our major towns,” said Mr Bowmaker.
“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. This has a flow on economic benefit for the whole community including better health,” said Mr Bowmaker.
“The tree audit provides a very detailed plan of our canopy cover so we can develop a strategic implementation plan for the future. We can then ensure there is appropriate species selection for the region and can renew trees that are reaching the end of their life or replace trees identified as missing,” he said.
Mr Bowmaker said it is estimated Greater Shepparton has approximately 40,000 trees in streets, parks and open spaces with varied cover and an ageing tree population. “Trees are one of our highest valued assets yet they are not necessarily seen as infrastructure,” said Mr Bowmaker.
“The value of trees to the wellbeing of our community is not often thought about however 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.
“The Strategy has commenced 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. “The audit is expected to be completed by the end of June then a draft strategy will be developed in consultation with key stakeholders. The community will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the Strategy.”
“An Urban Forest Strategy has a long term implementation plan over 10-15 years. Once the Strategy is finalised 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.”