Urban Forest Renewal, Canberra, Australia

CASE STUDY: Development and management of urban tree plantings

Vital to Canberra’s landscape is its urban forest, made up of over one million trees, 630,000 of which are managed by the ACT Government. It is the largest urban forest in Australia under the jurisdiction of one government agency.

Most of Canberra’s trees were planted in one of the two main plantings. Before 1930, deciduous and evergreen trees were planted and are generally found in the older parts of Canberra. From 1955 to 1975, mainly Eucalypt and other hardy natives were planted during a time of rapid growth for the city. These trees are now aging and reaching the end of their life simultaneously. They also need greater levels of maintenance to minimise risk to community and property.

In response to this, Canberra is currently developing an Urban Forest Renewal Program for the replacement of the city’s aging urban forest. Advice is being be sought from leading heritage, planning, urban development, horticulture, landscape architecture, forest and climate change experts as well as considerable community participation and engagement.

As a part of this I have played an important part in the tree species profiling with consideration to trees life expectancy for Canberra under current and future climate change predictions. This has involved the review the tree assessments that have been made by the expert Tree Selection Working Group.  The group has been reviewing the Tree Species recommended for Urban Landscape in Canberra’s Design Standards for Urban Infrastructure.

Having reviewed the assessments, I have developed the database categories and classification definitions (e.g. drought tolerance) for trees as part of a tree selection tool.

This work has included recommendations for tree species to be future trialed in the ACT.