Increasing Merri-bek's tree canopy
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As a council we have implemented a strategic approach to protecting and enhancing vegetation across our municipality and increasing tree canopies in our streets and parks.
This plan was made in response to the noticed loss of large trees in Merri-bek which has resulted from smaller tree canopies on private land, land development, infrastructure and property maintenance, changes in climate, and pests and disease.
The Merri-bek Urban Forest Strategy (PDF 9Mb) is a proactive plan that aims to double tree canopy cover across Merri-bek, bringing it to 30 per cent by 2050.
This strategy is aimed at fulfilling the vision of promoting and encouraging the transformation of Merri-bek into a municipality where healthy trees and vegetation are a core part of the urban environment.
Protecting our tree and vegetation cover is important for many reasons, to:
- providing shade and wind protection
- providing relief from the urban heat island effect
- contributing to local biodiversity and provide a home for bird and wildlife, and
- improving the attractiveness, sense of place, and landscape of Merri-bek’s suburbs.
We know that Merri-bek’s urban forest provides critical ecosystems services such as air and water filtration, shade, habitat, oxygen, carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling. The urban forest also provides a connection to nature that is often perceived to be missing in urban areas.
As housing lots, private open space and greening continue to decline across Merri-bek, having a more robust urban forest will provide essential ‘breathing spaces’ in our urban environment.
In order to assist the public in contributing to the improvement of our tree canopy we have implemented the following policies and tools, as well as actions that Council will fulfil as part of our Urban Forest Strategy.
Tree Works permit - Protecting mature trees on private land
Tree canopy cover in our streets and parks has increased over the past decade, however, private tree canopy has declined by a quarter.
We’re looking to protect mature trees on private land, which is why you need to get a tree works permit if you are looking to prune or remove a mature on private property in Merri-bek (Moreland Local Law, clause 2.5).
You’ll find more details at the Tree Works permit page, including information about the application process.
We have developed an online Tree Finder tool to guide developers, architects and Merri-bek residents in selecting the most suitable tree species for their space. We even use this tool ourselves, such as when our Council Planning staff are checking the trees specified in planning applications for medium and high-density development against the list of recommended species.
In this tool you’ll find that each tree species is given a star rating that identifies the tree's environmental value, ecological benefits, pest and disease susceptibility, climate change adaptability, life expectancy and amenity value.
This tool can help you to select the right tree for your space. If you have more than one tree species to choose from, we recommend that you select the tree with the highest star rating. See the Star Rating for Trees methodology (DOC 35Kb).
The list of recommended species was developed from Council street tree strategies, plans and the expertise of qualified staff. If you would like to suggest a tree species to be included in the Tree Finder tool, you can contact one of Council's Urban Forest Officers.
Enhancing trees in parks and on streets
By planting and managing the trees and vegetation in the parks and streets of Merri-bek, Council is actively putting our Urban Forest Strategy into action.
The Moreland Urban Forest Strategy (PDF 9Mb) includes key actions for Council:
- Improve both the health and successful establishment of Council trees
- Continue to plant canopy trees in Merri-bek’s streets and parks to fill vacant sites, create new sites such as in-road plantings, and replace under-performing trees
- Improve tree health and cooling by integrating water-sensitive urban design, and
- Protect existing trees through improved planning and enforcement measures by Council.
You can find out more about the Merri-bek Urban Forest Strategy, and our advice and ratings for building and designing to increase healthy trees and vegetation, by reading the documents below:
- Urban Forest Strategy 2017-27 (PDF 9Mb)
- Urban Forest Strategy 2017-27 (DOC 20Mb)
- Urban Forest Strategy 2017-27 Summary (PDF 1Mb)
- Good design advice for planning and advice sheets
- Design Excellence Scorecard, which arose as an action from the Medium Density Housing Review, which Council endorsed in October 2018