26 September 2023

Tough new tree laws to guard city’s canopy

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City Services is calling for feedback on proposed new laws to protect Canberra’s trees from unsustainable development and to help grow the City’s urban forest.

Welcoming the opening of consultation on the Urban Forest Bill 2022, Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel said the Bill would help protect and grow Canberra’s tree canopy to reduce the urban heat island effect, the impact of climate change, and retain the leafy character of the city.

“[The laws] will also disincentivise property developers from removing or damaging trees, encouraging more sustainable building design practices,” Mr Steel said.

“For the first time, if a tree is approved for removal, more trees must be planted to ensure our tree canopy continues to grow,” he said.

“Tree bonds will also provide a strong financial message to developers that valuable trees close to a construction site must be given a high level of protection as work occurs.”

Mr Steel said that if it was passed the Bill would repeal and replace the Tree Protection Act 2005, which only applied to leased land, to improve tree protection on both public and private land and encourage the shared care of Canberra’s trees.

“The current criteria for tree damaging activity (including removal) will remain 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,” Mr Steel said.

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

He said other key changes in the proposed Bill would see all trees on public land and more trees on private land regulated, as well as replanting and financial contribution requirements for property developers to depend on the size and location of the trees removed.

The Directorate has released a three-page fact sheet on the draft Bill which can be accessed at this PS News link and information on how to have a say is at this link.

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