27 September 2023

New laws to guard Canberra’s trees

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Canberra’s trees are to be protected from unsustainable development under new laws to help retain and grow the city’s tree canopy for future generations.

Introducing the Urban Forest Bill 2022, Minister for City Services, Chris Steel said the Bill would repeal and replace the Tree Protection Act 2005, which only applied to leased land.

Mr Steel said this would improve tree protection on both public and private land and encourage the shared care of Canberra’s trees.

“With the rapid growth of the city, there will be more development across the ACT and we want to keep what we love about our city by protecting our trees, planting more and ensuring they have the room to grow,” Mr Steel said.

“These new laws will help protect and grow (so) our tree canopy will not only retain our city’s character but make it more resilient to a changing climate by reducing the urban heat island effect,” he said.

“They will also disincentivise property developers from removing or damaging trees, encouraging more sustainable building design practices.”

Mr Steel said that for the first time in Canberra, if a tree met the criteria and was approved for removal, then more trees must be planted to replace the lost canopy cover.

He said tree bonds would provide a strong financial message to developers that valuable trees close to a construction site must be given a high level of protection while work occurred.

“The current criteria for approving tree damaging activity (including removal) will remain largely the same, with the proposed changes in the new legislation to focus on the introduction of a tree bond scheme and the establishment of the Canopy Contribution Framework,” the Minister said.

“The Canopy Contribution Framework will not apply to dangerous trees which pose an immediate threat to safety.”

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