By Lis Hollands
A couple of years ago, Belmont was named as one of the hottest local governments in Australia. We certainly still have the lowest tree canopy in WA. The blame for this is often laid on the airport. With this in mind, how can we improve our canopy, which in turn will keep our temperatures down?
Firstly, the City of Belmont does not have a policy which allows the council to plant a tree on the (council owned) verge if the occupant at the time does not want one. However, once there is a tree on the verge, it cannot be removed unless the council agrees to do so. It is rare for this to occur and is usually because the tree is in a dangerous state, or it is interfering with a proposed development. Perhaps, with the urgency of climate change and rising temperatures, it may be time that verge trees are no longer a choice.
Secondly as a result of development, blocks are cleared before building commences. Many of these trees are mature and have provided great shade and often foraging, for many years, and their loss is felt deeply by their surrounding communities -as we saw with the removal of the tree at the Kooyong Road sump.
Despite the State Government bringing in a policy requirement for the planting of a tree with each new development, it's a difficult thing to monitor.
Over two years ago our council voted to have a tree preservation policy and we're still waiting for this policy to come before council. Such a policy would allow householders to get a significant tree - that complied with the policy - put on a list so it couldn't not be cut down in future.
The City of Belmont took a leap forward to increase our canopy last year, with the introduction of the council supplying trees to residents for their private properties. Residents could put their names down and when the tree became available, they were notified to collect them. A certain number were allocated this year for residents, and the scheme proved popular, and we believe it will continue into the future, and we hope more people take it up.