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Voluntary Protected Tree Register

11 May 2022

The City of Stirling Council has endorsed a plan to establish a voluntary Protected Tree Register just as the 2022 inaugural WA Tree Festival concludes this month.

In partnership with 11 councils and the support of the WA Local Government Association (WALGA), the City of Stirling led a month-long campaign to shine a light on the importance of urban trees and raise awareness about the negative consequences of long-term reduction in tree canopy coverage.

The festival highlighted that there has been considerable depletion of tree canopy cover in the metropolitan area, and the City recognises that canopy cover and a resilient urban forest are essential for the wellbeing of its residents and the liveability of its suburbs.

In 2019 the City endorsed its Urban Forest Plan which, among other things, resolved to enable residents to voluntarily register trees on their land, and assist them to maintain, manage and care for these trees.

Mayor Mark Irwin said it was clear that whilst there was much the local government sector could do to protect trees, significant improvement of the Perth metropolitan canopy would only be achieved with community and State Government support.

“The inaugural WA Tree Festival has filled us with a renewed sense of confidence that local government has the strong backing of the broader community for practical and reasonable action to protect trees,” he said.

“Collectively the WA Tree Festival group delivered over 120 events and activations, with 5,500 registrations and drop-ins. Almost all (99 per cent) of respondents to the City’s online education sessions survey said they would like to see the festival continue into the future.

“We all know the benefits of development in our area, which provides our residents with places to live, to work and to recreate, as well as the associated infrastructure that pulls all of that together.

“This festival shows not only a willingness for the local government sector to work together, but strong community support. The current situation of each local government area having its own rules about how to protect trees creates uncertainty for developers when their work crosses local government boundaries.

“WALGA has long encouraged the State Government to provide the necessary statutory guidance and planning policies to ensure consistent protection of trees to counter the differing local rules that can influence development plans for developers and property owners.”

The Voluntary Protected Tree Register is intended to be introduced through an amendment to the City’s Local Planning Scheme, and will give landowners the option to nominate a tree to be protected, noting that only a landowner can nominate a tree on their property.

An independent arborist will assess eligible nominations, and prepare a tree management plan to help the resident to maintain, manage and care for the tree, ensuring accountability for the tree. The plan would also outline how the registered tree would be protected to ensure its long-term health whilst still allowing tree-friendly development to occur.

“It is clear to us that there is community support for stronger protections for trees, and we encourage members of the public to provide their feedback when we advertise these changes. The support for this register and ultimately the number of trees voluntarily registered will allow landowners take a more active role in stronger protections for and management of trees on private land.”

The amendments to the Local Planning Scheme required to implement the voluntary Protected Tree Register will be advertised and all submissions considered and presented to Council later in 2022.

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