The City of Sydney has revealed plans to spend an additional $8 million on street trees over the next 10 years. The announcement follows a recent AECOM report that found increased tree canopy coverage could increase a house’s value by tens of thousands of dollars.
The City of Sydney’s plans are part of its draft budget for the next financial year. It includes $2.8 million to plant 100 trees a year for 10 years on existing footpaths, in addition to its current program of planting 700 trees.
The draft budget also provides $5.4 million in additional funding for in-road planting in various locations.
The additional funding is hoped to improve air quality, provide habitat for birds and wildlife, reduce the urban heat island effect and to help reach the council’s target of increasing the urban canopy by 50 per cent by 2030.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said unprecedented development and state government projects like WestConnex and the light rail meant the city’s urban canopy had “taken a battering”.
“Because of these destructive impacts, we need to redouble our efforts,” she said.
The plan could also work to boost property values, with a recent AECOM report finding that for every 10 per cent increase in canopy coverage within the street corridor, the value of a property increased by on average $50,000.
Data from the report showed Annandale prices increased by $60,761, Blacktown by $55,000 and Willoughby by $33,152.
“If we don’t put a financial value on trees there is less incentive to protect them when looking at the cost benefits of new roads, bridges or buildings,” AECOM cities leader James Rosenwax said.
“Unfortunately, the humble street tree is often in conflict with other forms of infrastructure and development. Our report found that without sufficient ‘green infrastructure’ Sydney would be hotter, more polluted and could be worth $50 billion less.”
The report said governments needed to:
- Account for the financial value of trees
- Reassess funding for green infrastructure maintenance
- Bundle and relocate power lines where possible
- Create a master plan for a greener more liveable city
- Update green infrastructure regulations to solve the disconnect between green goals and the way cities work
- Apply smart management to green projects utilising new planting techniques, careful selection of species and engage residents