A Call to Action: Protecting Adelaide's Tree Canopy

Adelaide needs a bolder vision to integrate our planning system with the preservation of our big trees and the tree canopy they create. Visionaries in the past have done this. Now it’s our turn to meet this challenge on behalf of future generations.

What’s Happening to Adelaide’s Trees? was launched in June 2020 following mounting community concern about the escalating destruction of Adelaide’s trees on public and private land.

In response, politicians, local councils, for-purpose organisations and community action groups have asked for specific actions that could turn this around.

We have collaborated with a wide range of stakeholders, including developers, conservation groups, ecologists, homeowners concerned about managing big trees, arborists and councils to develop our recommended actions.

There was general agreement that:

Trees are under threat in our city – Greater Adelaide is losing a phenomenal number of trees - about 75,000 trees per annum. If this continues, there is no hope of reaching Adelaide’s goal of becoming ‘a green liveable city’.

Urban infill is necessary – but careful design and ‘smart’ infill to maximise the retention of existing trees and retain the benefits offered by mature trees rather than the small shrubs or immature trees often favoured in new developments is possible.

Trees can sometimes create challenges for homeowners, but the benefits to the householder and the wider community outweigh these, and

Convoluted regulations and associated processes have perpetuated the myth that trees are too hard to maintain or retain.

One major point of agreement is that the current regulated and significant tree regulations are not working to protect our large trees or prevent unnecessary removals.Our recommended practical solutions aim to balance the current tensions between our planning system and the community’s need for a green liveable city; including:

  • Support for retaining tree canopy on private land that accounts for 80% of metropolitan Adelaide.
  • Clearer rules and simpler and quicker processes in councils and government for homeowners and developers.
  • Help for tree owners who, as custodians, currently bear all the cost and risk while nearby properties share in the aesthetic and cooling benefits, and
  • Developing awareness that when a large mature tree is removed, its benefits are gone forever.

Our aim is to ensure that Adelaide is climate change resilient and will meet the South Australian Government’s 2045 green canopy targets1, while enabling smart infill development which sustains and extends our mature tree canopy.

Adelaide needs a bolder vision to integrate our planning system with the preservation of our big trees and the tree canopy they create. Visionaries in the past have done this. Now it’s our turn to meet this challenge on behalf of future generations.

It’s time to value and protect our trees as a public asset for the benefit of all.

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Contact Conservation SA on (08) 8223 5155, [email protected], or at our offices at the Joinery at 111 Franklin Street, Adelaide.

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