Community Engagement and the Protection and Proliferation of the Urban Forest

20/09/2021 - Community Engagement and the Protection and Proliferation of the Urban Forest

By Councillor Miller

It is resolved that:

(A)      Council note:

(i)         the City of Sydney recognises the intrinsic, health, economic and environmental value of urban ecology. Specifically, it recognises that living infrastructure such as trees and plants are valuable assets that play a critical role in protecting, cooling, calming, and adorning our city;

(ii)        the City of Sydney is committed to increasing its overall green cover to 40 per cent across the local area, including at least 27 per cent tree canopy, by 2050. It is the only council in Australia that has consistently increased canopy cover, and the only capital city to do so, despite significant urban growth;

(iii)      there is a suite of existing strategies and plans to help proactively manage greening the City including; the Environment Plan 2021-2025, the Greening Sydney Strategy, Tree Management Controls in the City’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP), the Urban Forest Strategy, Park Tree Management Plans, and the Street Tree Master Plan (STMP);

(iv)      the City has several online publicly accessible resources such as:

(a)       the Tree Asset Database, an interactive map with almost 47,000 records of trees located on public land across the Local Government Area under management by the City, which also includes public trees on the City’s Significant Tree and Heritage Tree register. The data for each tree shows its name, ID number, type of tree (street or park tree) and its height;

(b)       the Significant Trees Register, an interactive map that shows 2,674 trees on 157 public and private properties which have been nominated by the community based on their historical, cultural, social, ecological, or outstanding visual and aesthetic appeal. The data for each tree shows its name, location, type, class, origin, height, spread, and year planted; and

(c)       the Story Map, an interactive map under the Greening Sydney Strategy that contains canopy cover, heat and other data acquired by the City or other sources over the past 12 years; and

(v)       Direction 6: ‘Greening Together’ in the City of Sydney’s Greening Sydney Strategy identifies the value of community participation in greening the urban landscape, with Actions 18, 19 and 20 highlighting the need for community participation, funding and engagement to support the protection and proliferation of the urban forest - especially on private land; and

(B)      the Chief Executive Officer be requested to:

(i)         investigate the extent to which Development Applications proposing tree removal can be made publicly visible and notified;

(ii)        determine the feasibility of overlaying this dataset with existing tree and heat mapping tools including the Tree Asset Database, Significant Tree Registry and ARCGIS story map; and

(iii)      identify ways in which trees removed by development consent can be compensated for via the Greening Sydney Fund as part of the Greening Sydney Strategy.

Note – at the meeting of Council, the content of the original Notice of Motion was varied by Councillor Miller. Subsequently, it was –

Moved by Councillor Miller, seconded by Councillor Thalis –

It is resolved that:

(A)      Council note:

(iv)      the City of Sydney recognises the intrinsic, health, economic and environmental value of urban ecology. Specifically, it recognises that living infrastructure such as trees and plants are valuable assets that play a critical role in protecting, cooling, calming, and adorning our city;

(v)       many of the City’s residents, including those in Ultimo and Pyrmont, appreciate the value of trees in their areas and are passionate about protecting what they have and promoting increased greening;

(vi)      before the City removes any of its street or park trees, notification signs are placed on the trees for at least 14 days prior to their removal. The timing may be reduced if the works are urgent due to safety concerns. The timing is extended around key holiday periods such as Christmas/New Years and Easter;

(vii)     Development Applications that include proposed tree removal are notified online in accordance with the City’s Community Participation Plan 2019;

(viii)    the City of Sydney is committed to increasing its overall green cover to 40 per cent across the local area, including at least 27 per cent tree canopy, by 2050. It is the only council in Australia that has consistently increased canopy cover, and the only capital city to do so, despite significant urban growth.

(ix)      there is a suite of existing strategies and plans to help proactively manage greening the City including; the Environment Plan 2021-2025, the Greening Sydney Strategy, Tree Management Controls in the City’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP), the Urban Forest Strategy, Park Tree Management Plans, and the Street Tree Master Plan (STMP);

(x)       the City has several online publicly accessible resources such as:

(a)       the Tree Asset Database, an interactive map with almost 47,000 records of trees located on public land across the LGA under management by the City, which also includes public trees on the City’s Significant Tree and Heritage Tree registers. The data for each tree shows its name, ID number, type of tree (street or park tree) and its height;

(b)       the Significant Trees Register, an interactive map that shows 2,674 trees on 157 public and private properties which have been nominated by the community based on their historical, cultural, social, ecological, or outstanding visual and aesthetic appeal. The data for each tree shows its name, location, type, class, origin, height, spread, and year planted; and

(c)       the Story Map, an interactive map under the Greening Sydney Strategy that contains canopy cover, heat and other data acquired by the City or other sources over the past 12 years; and

(xi)      Direction 6: ‘Greening Together’ in the City of Sydney’s Greening Sydney Strategy identifies the value of community participation in greening the urban landscape, with Actions 18, 19 and 20 highlighting the need for community participation, funding and engagement to support the protection and proliferation of the urban forest - especially on private land; and

(B)      the Chief Executive Officer be requested to investigate the following and provide a report back to Council via the CEO Update:

(i)         opportunities and barriers to enabling trees approved to be removed by development consent being notified online prior to their physical removal;

(ii)        the feasibility of integrating details about tree removal approved by development consent with the City’s existing publicly visible online mapping tools including the Tree Asset Database, Significant Tree Registry, and the Story Map; and

(iii)      ways in which trees approved for removal can be compensated for via the Greening Sydney Fund as part of the Greening Sydney Strategy.

Carried unanimously.

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Adjournment

At this stage of the meeting, at 6.34pm, it was moved by the Chair (the Lord Mayor), seconded by Councillor Scully –

That the meeting be adjourned for approximately 15 minutes.

Carried unanimously.

All Councillors were present at the resumption of the meeting of Council at 6.55pm.