10,000th tree in Green Streets program to counter loss of trees in shire

Milestone: Mayor Carmelo Pesce with council staff and residents in Glencoe Street, Sutherland. Picture: supplied
Milestone: Mayor Carmelo Pesce with council staff and residents in Glencoe Street, Sutherland. Picture: supplied

A major milestone has been reached in a program that is trying to stop Sutherland Shire's tree canopy shrinking.

The 10,000th tree has been planted the council Green Streets program, which began in 2014.

The initiative was designed to combat the loss of thousands of trees in the shire each year due to development, safety considerations and Ausgrid and RMS projects.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce joined council staff and residents for the planting of the 10,000th tree, a Melaleuca linariifolia, commonly known as Snow-in-Summer, in Glencoe Street, Sutherland.

Cr Pesce said in a statement planting 10,000 trees on nature strips and other public land across the shire was "a great achievement".

"The award winning Green Streets program has been extremely successful and is an example of how Sutherland Shire Council is leading the way in urban forest management," he said.

"We know that planting unsuitable trees under power lines creates ongoing pruning issues, so we're making sure any new planting in these areas will be more suitable indigenous trees that will thrive, without growing to problematic heights.

"It's all about planting the right trees in the right places for the long term.

"The Green Streets program aims to improve biodiversity by replacing trees that have been removed or by replacing trees that are reaching the end of their lifetime.

"It's also about enhancing broader benefits associated with trees, such as improving air quality, reducing temperatures in urban areas and creating a sense of place in our neighbourhoods."

The Green Streets program was awarded the Keep NSW Beautiful Award for Environment and Biodiversity award in 2015 and the Local Government Award of Excellence in the Environment Award.

In July 2019, the Green Streets team hosted a conference and bus tour for other councils and government agencies, providing education on strategies and the implementation of indigenous street tree planting.

A 2019 state election commitment will see an additional 3000 new trees planted in Taren Point, Jannali, Engadine and Cronulla over the next 10 months.

The last council report on tree loss and replacement, in May last year, said, in the six months to February 2018, approval was given for the removal of 2723 trees through development applications, home owner requests, public place reactions and RMS and Ausgrid projects.

Only 1822 replacement trees, including through the Green Streets program, were planted during the same period.

Under the council's policy, trees that are removed are required to be replaced at a ratio of 4:1 on development sites and 2:1 elsewhere.

Applicants can pay for replacements to be undertaken by the council at other sites, such as along streets, where 1239 trees were planted under the Green Streets Program

The council's strategic goal is no net canopy loss.