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Collective Conversations: For trees, value goes beyond dollar figures

September 5, 2017

 

If you had to put a price on your street tree, how much would it be?

 

The Town of Victoria Park has estimated each of our 15,565 street trees to be worth an average of $8700.

 

Think about how much amenity those trees give to our streets, how much cooler we can keep in summer, with shade and relief from the sun, and all the biodiversity that thrives in and around trees.

 

To highlight the value of urban trees in our climate change era, the Vic Park Collective brought together a few experts for a Collective Conversation on August 22 at Daddy Long Legs Bar.

 

We had a full house – with Mayor Trevor Vaughan, current and wannabe Councillors in attendance – and a very cordial debate about why Vic Park should value trees, no matter what the dollar figure on them is.

 

 

 

Chris Ferreira, senior presenter at The Forever Project, reminded us that nothing beats natural shade. If you’re on the street on a 32C day summer day, the coolest place you will find is under a tree: a blessed 17C!

 

He also talked about choosing the right trees for the right places, and the utmost importance of keeping our soils healthy so trees and other vegetation are able to grow.

 

Roni and Simon Forrest presented an indigenous perspective not only on trees but on the whole natural environment that surrounds us, with all its interconnectedness.

They showed a few wonderful examples of native trees and talked about their involvement with Gondwana Link, a project that aims at reconnecting and restoring the fragmented landscape from the western forest to the eastern woodlands of Western Australia.

 

Helen Brown, a lecturer at Curtin University, showed survey results that detail the benefits of retaining trees to offset the heat island effect, which is felt not only in the city centre, but increasingly in our suburbs.

 

With climate change, urban temperatures are set to rise at double the pace as the planet as a whole. And with urban infill also happening at a fast pace, Helen pointed out the need to protect trees in residential blocks. The key, according to her, is not to demonise population density, but to better plan infill to retain tree cover and somewhat offset the effects of rising temperatures.

 

The event started the community engagement process that the Vic Park Collective, in conjunction with the Victoria Park Urban Tree Network, will develop over the next few months.

The main goal is to consult residents and businesses on the Urban Forest Strategy that both groups are working on. In a first for Perth, the Town of Victoria Park has engaged community groups to develop a plan on how to increase tree cover around town.

 

Starting in October, the Collective will run community engagement workshops to listen to residents’ concerns and suggestions. To participate, drop us a line at hello@vicparkcollective.com.

 

 

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