Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 440
Macquarie ACT 2614
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
Review of the Tree Protection Act 2005
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
As an overall statement, we believe that it is not possible to have the same rules apply for trees that have conservation values with those that have urban amenity values. Included in conservation values are very old trees (some of which are over 400 years old) that have important heritage as well as habitat values but may be in poor condition. Our comments below are based on this differentiation.
Fundamentally, the Tree Protection Act should ensure that it is recognising the recent listing of Conservation of Mature and Hollow-bearing Trees as a key threatening process in the definitions of what constitutes a ‘significant tree’.
Our comments on the discussion paper follow.
Discussion Paper Question 1: In light of the ACT’s new 30% canopy target, do you think we should amend the focus or priority of the Tree Protection Act?
Our understanding is that the Tree Protection Act (TPA) 2005 applies to trees in the built-up urban area. We think that it should apply equally to all public lands within the urban area and to public lands adjacent to urban areas.
Discussion Paper Question 2: Should the criteria for tree removal at Appendix B be changed?
FOG supports the Conservator of Flora and Fauna being the final arbiter in any proposal to remove local native species of trees, particularly any that are potentially hollow bearing and covered by the listing of the Conservation of Mature and Hollow-bearing Trees as a key threatening process in the ACT.
Discussion Paper Question 6: Do you support the establishment of a tree fund which would be used to fund more trees being planted in Canberra?
FOG supports the proposal to establish a tree fund. This fund should not only allow for more trees to be planted in Canberra, but also for replacement of invasive species (e.g. Cootamundra wattle, exotic species) adjoining nature reserves and other conservation areas. It is also essential that resources be allocated to this fund and to manage our urban forest on an ongoing basis. It is also important that the plantings be based on a strategic plan and that there is identification in each case of what the outcomes are, for example, conservation connectivity, habitat or urban shade trees.
Discussion Paper Question7: Would you support the establishment of a no net loss offset scheme? (Whereby when a tree has to be removed, it is replaced by another tree/s or funds are provided into a tree fund).
FOG supports this proposal. However, where regulated local native trees occur within a proposed development footprint it is important that offsetting arrangements should not be so lenient that they are seen as a payout mechanism, rather than consideration being given to alternative development layouts that allow retention of these trees. It is essential that mature trees with the potential for hollows be retained if possible, since trees planted through offsetting will not be mature enough to provide suitable hollows for breeding of species such as the superb parrot for many years.
Discussion paper Question 8: Would you support replacement trees planted on (a) the same block? (b) public land in the area? (c) any area in Canberra?
FOG strongly supports the proposed system whereby when a tree is removed, a replacement tree or trees are planted on the same block or in the local area, but this is not always feasible or strategically sound – again each case should be based on a strategic approach to what provides the best outcome for the situation.
If replacement trees are to be planted on public land of any conservation value or adjoining reserves, the following considerations should apply:
- No planting of trees or shrubs on public land where endangered Natural Temperate Grassland in moderate or good condition is present, or where endangered species such as the Golden Sun Moth are present
- The species chosen should be compatible with the natural values of nearby reserves or open space, and exclude potentially invasive exotic or non-local native species
- Plantings should take into account possible connectivity between reserves and other urban open space with conservation values
Discussion Paper Question 10: Do you support the establishment of an ACT tree curator? What role could they play in enhancing the canopy on leased land?
FOG supports the appointment of a Tree Curator. The Tree Curator should be independent of government, in a similar way to the Commissioner for Environment & Sustainability, and should be responsible for trees on leased and un-leased land, and general tree management throughout the urban area.
15 December 2019