The City of Sydney will spend an additional $8 million to increase tree canopy coverage in the city over the next 10 years. This amount, announced as part of the draft budget prepared by the City of Sydney for the next financial year, includes $2.8 million for 100 trees to be planted each year over the next decade on existing footpaths. These funds come in addition to the council's existing plan to plant 700 trees, and the $5.4 million of additional funding for in-road planting in various locations.
The additional funding aims to improve air quality, provide a habitat for birds and wildlife, reduce the urban heat island effect and help reach the council’s target of increasing the urban canopy by 50 per cent by 2030.
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore attributed shrinking tree cover in the city to unprecedented development, as well as state government projects such as WestConnex and light rail. She stated that it would be necessary to work twice as hard to mitigate the destructive impacts of these projects.
A recent AECOM report revealed that for every 10 per cent increase in canopy coverage within the street corridor, the value of a property increased by about $50,000. The plan to increase the city’s tree canopy could also work to boost property values: Data from the report showed prices in Annandale increased by $60,761, Blacktown by $55,000 and Willoughby by $33,152.
According to AECOM cities leader James Rosenwax, if there’s no financial value on trees, there is less incentive to protect them when evaluating the cost benefits of new roads, bridges or buildings. Observing that the humble street tree was often in conflict with other forms of infrastructure and development, he added that the absence of sufficient ‘green infrastructure’ would lead to a hotter and more polluted Sydney, which could also be worth $50 billion less.
The report said that it was necessary for governments to account for the financial value of trees; reassess funding for green infrastructure maintenance; bundle and relocate power lines wherever possible; create a master plan for a greener, more liveable city; update green infrastructure regulations to solve the disconnect between green goals and the way cities work; and apply smart management to green projects that utilise new planting techniques.