Newcastle Greens today (on National Tree Day) launched their Urban Forest and Tree Management Policy for the September Newcastle Council elections, saying that winning back the confidence of the community for the council’s management of the city’s trees would be a key challenge for the next council.
“Urban trees are a vital part of our vision for Newcastle’s future, and the policy we are releasing today reflects this,” The Greens Lord Mayoral and Ward 4 candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, said.
“The new council elected in September must adopt a new attitude and approach to urban trees so that nothing like the Laman St fiasco happens again.
“The council’s current Urban Forest Policy was initiated by The Greens in a previous council, and provides a sound basis for good tree management, and for increasing canopy coverage throughout the city.
“But, as anyone who lives in Newcastle knows, tree management has been one of the most controversial issues dividing the council and the community over the past council term.
“Our policy advocates establishing an Urban Forest and Tree Management Committee, with broad community and external expert representation, to provide ongoing advice on council’s urban forest policy and tree management protocols and practices.
“Greens councillors will push for a review of council’s current practices for managing large mature trees, and to develop a ‘big tree policy’ to maintain the city’s large trees.
“In collaboration with the community, we want to establish a “Significant Tree Register” and incorporate this into council’s relevant policies, planning documents and tree management protocols.
“To learn from the Laman St experience, and to ensure it doesn’t happen again, we want council’s tree risk assessments to be based on world’s best practice, and to recognise that risk management decisions have significant policy dimensions, especially when dealing with significant trees.
“And we want to ensure that the council never again uses the NSW Roads Act to circumvent normal processes for removing significant trees, unless they pose a genuine and immediate danger to traffic.
“Our policy would also establish exciting programs to involve the community in improving our urban forest and “backyard biodiversity”, and to assist older people with managing trees.
“We are also proposing to revive the “Red Cedar City” concept, as a way of acknowledging both the historic role of trees in our city’s history, and their importance as part of a sustainable future,” Mr Sutton said.