7 November 2012 — Sydney will become leafier and healthier under the City of Sydney’s new Urban Forest Strategy to green the city, reduce power bills, and beautify inner-city properties.

The City will grow its urban forest and green canopy by up to 50 per cent by 2030 and maximise the environmental, economic and social benefits of trees and plants to the community.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in 12 months, one mature tree could absorb 3400 litres of stormwater, filter 27 kilograms of pollutants from the air and provide a cooling effect equivalent to continuously running 10 air conditioners.

“We want to create great streets and public spaces, while protecting and improving our urban forest, by planting the appropriate trees for each street and park and increasing the diversity of species in our area,” she said.

“Street trees improve mental health and well-being by reducing stress in urban green spaces, as well as providing a sense of place and enhancing property values. Deciduous trees cut your summer cooling bills, while still allowing in light and warmth through during winter.”

There are about 81,000 trees in Sydney which provide a canopy cover of just over 15 per cent. Under the Strategy this would increase to more than 23 per cent by 2030.

The City will soon also finalise a Footpath Gardening Policy that introduces a “red-tape free” process for residents to plant verges, nature strips and place planter boxes on public footpaths.

“By introducing a simple checklist, we have streamlined the process for people to green their own neighbourhoods without blocking footpaths or creating pedestrian hazards,” the Lord Mayor said.

City of Sydney chief arborist Karen Sweeney said the new plans would see a range of deciduous and evergreen, and a variety of small, medium and large trees being planted across the city centre and villages.

“Despite a densely urbanised area and harsh conditions in the City centre, we have trees growing healthily and happily and we are planting more,” Ms Sweeney said.

“Trees humanise the space as well as shading pedestrians, diminishing traffic noise, screening unwanted views and reducing glare.

“They also contribute to the local economy by increasing the attractiveness of shopping and dining precincts, reducing the urban heat island effect and attracting higher rents and sale values to residential areas.”

The draft Urban Forest Strategy and Tree Management Policy is set to go on display for public viewing and community comment at the City of Sydney’s website.