26 September 2023

City’s tree canopy to be protected by law

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Canberra’s trees are to be better protected under new legislation to ensure the city’s tree canopy continues to expand and spread out as the city grows.

Welcoming the passage of the Urban Forest Bill 2022, the Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel said the Bill created a sound framework to reach the ACT’s ambitious target of 30 per cent tree canopy cover or its equivalent by 2045.

“This is about establishing the right protections and incentives to keep the trees that give Canberra its character as our city grows and develops,” Mr Steel said.

“The first priority of this legislation is incentivising developers to keep existing trees,” he said.

“However, if a tree has to be given approval to be removed then the tree must be replaced, which wasn’t previously required.

“This legislation will also save more trees from poor development practices with significant penalties for damaging trees before, during and after work takes place.”

Mr Steel said key changes under the Bill included: A tree bond system to ensure trees were not damaged during construction work; New requirements to ensure that when trees were approved for removal, they were replaced through new planting; An expansion of the ACT Tree Register; and Penalties for people caught damaging a tree or breaching a tree protection plan or direction.

He said the legislation would come into effect on 1 January 2024, allowing time for the Government to work with the community and industry to raise awareness of what was changing.

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