We know our residents value the trees in our streets and parks. Our trees give Boroondara its special leafy character and provide much-needed shade and environmental benefits.
Trees have a limited lifespan. As they get bigger and older they can start to damage private and public property and infrastructure. Unhealthy trees are more likely to fail.
We are developing a tree renewal program to help address this problem. Removing and replacing unsuitable trees over time will ensure we continue to enjoy green, leafy streets and parks.
Why we need to renew trees
During the development of our Tree Strategy 2017-2027, we identified a number of risks and threats to our existing street and park trees.
We have many older trees
More than 75 per cent of our street and park trees are now at a mature age. Many of these trees are now beginning declined, or will soon.
Older trees are more prone to stress caused by:
- climate change - high temperatures and water stress
- mandatory pruning to meet electric line clearance obligations
- damage to roots during works on private and public infrastructure and essential services (such as gas, water, communication)
Older trees may have also outgrown their planting sites, which may be causing damage to private and public infrastructure.
Our existing tree population is not diverse enough
Although our streets are home to many tree species and cultivated varieties (cultivars), we do have large numbers of the same species. These include Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), Plane trees (Platanus species and cultivars), and Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus).
A lack of tree diversity increases the risk that many trees could be severely stressed, enter into decline, or die as a result of a pest or disease or climate change, such as another extended drought.
How we renew trees
We have a number of approaches for renewing trees. These will minimise the impact of changes to the streetscapes and parks, and our main method will be ‘the right tree’ approach. This means we will be choosing ‘the right tree, for the right place, at the right time, with the right management’.
New infill plantings
In some streets, we will begin tree renewal by planting new trees of the same or a different species where there are already gaps in nature strips.
Small scale removal and replacement
If there are only a few poorly performing trees scattered throughout the street, we will remove and replace them. Replacement will take into account the character of the street and the outcome of any community consultation undertaken.
Larger scale progressive tree renewal
In streets with a high proportion of declining trees, we will stagger larger scale tree removals over a 3 to 5 year time frame, or longer if needed following community consultation. These decisions will be based on ‘the right tree’ approach, and will consider:
- the street character
- age, size and diversity of trees
- impact of tree loss on shade, screening and habitat.
Consulting with you on tree renewal
We will consult with you before undertaking tree renewal work.
New trees and species types will be selected from the ‘the right tree’ approach, and considered in consultation with surrounding residents. The tree selection process considers:
- The suitability of a species for the site, including available growing space, soil type and its water-holding capacity, light availability, and any other relevant characteristics of the location that might affect the tree's performance.
- Contribution to street amenity, including leafy canopy, bark, flowers, fruit and fit with the character of the neighbourhood.
- Habitat value. The contribution the tree makes to attracting insects, birds and other native wildlife. We recognise this can have positive and negative impacts.
Benefits of tree renewal
We will replace trees in a way that does not diminish the amenity and character of a street and our neighbourhoods. Some of the benefits of tree renewal include:
Increased species richness
Having a broad mix of species helps build resilience and reduce risks to our urban forest such as climate change, pests and diseases. Streets won’t necessarily become a jumble of species, but there will be different solutions for different types of streets and it will form part of our discussion with the community at the time of renewal.
In parks, species richness is generally greater, but we will also consider this factor in new plantings.
Broader mix of tree ages
By introducing tree replacement gradually, we will spread the need for future tree renewal over a longer time frame. This will also help us to manage the financial commitment to trees across the whole of our city.
Help us with tree renewal
Do you have a vacant nature strip? You can Request a tree.
If you are interested in renewing trees on your property or planting indigenous plants or other wildlife-friendly features, you can learn how on our Backyard Biodiversity Project page.