I need your help to save the trees to fight climate change Greater Dandenong has one of the lowest canopy covers in Melbourne and it is declining each year. Research has shown that large canopy trees can reduce daytime surface temperatures by up to 20°C by providing shade. They also take 150 kg of C02 out of the atmosphere per tree per year. They are the ultimate carbon capture and climate change adaption weapon we have. Yet the new draft Greater Dandenong Urban Forest Strategy and supporting Greening our Neighbourhoods Strategy, both available via this link that are currently out for public consultation are underfunded, unambitious and won’t make the vital step that will make the biggest difference to increasing canopy cover each year – introducing a local law to protect large trees like many other Councils including nearby Frankston and Kingston. Previous Council research has indicated that this local law is essential to stopping declining tree canopy cover. It’s not a serious commitment to a climate emergency by Greater Dandenong Council that only last year declared one! Please send Council a message by completing Council’s feedback survey via this link and saying that this unambitious, underfunded strategy is not good enough. And for Q7 click that you strongly support a local law to protect large trees (unless they are really causing a problem of course!).How you answer Q7 is the most important aspect, but below is an optional guide on how you can answer each of the other questions to create the strong, well resourced strategy we need. Feel free to put your own emotion into it! Please let me know if you have any questions and once you have made your submission. Feel free to forward this email on to other like-minded people who live in Greater Dandenong. PS Make sure you select both “OK” and “Done” at the end so you submit successfully and get taken to another page. PSS If you have already completed the survey – if so email brett.jackson@cgd.vic.gov.au with extra comments! ** GUIDE TO ANSWERING THE SURVEY ** QUESTION 1: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE STRATEGY POSSIBLE ANSWER: Recognition by Council that the issue of declining canopy cover is very important QUESTION 2: WHAT IMPROVEMENTS COULD BE MADE TO THE STRATEGY? POSSIBLE ANSWER: There is no annual monitoring of Greater Dandenong’s progress towards the targeted 15 per cent canopy cover. Measuring it every seven years (or even three years as the other strategy suggests) won’t show whether we are on track or not and if extra resources and commitment is required.Annual measurement is essential and costs very little, particularly compared to the value it will have. QUESTION 3: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE GREENING OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS STRATEGY? POSSIBLE ANSWER: Recognition by Council that the issue of declining canopy cover is important QUESTION 4: WHAT IMPROVEMENTS COULD WE MAKE TO THE GREENING OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS STRATEGY?
  1. The strategy is unambitious, under-resourced and there is no evidence or even indication that the Greening our Neighbourhoods Strategy will make a difference to reaching a canopy cover target of 15%. The target should be changed if it is not realistic otherwise it is giving false hope as it is not achievable.
  2. There is no commitment in the document to a local law protecting large trees on private land and also what difference that will make to meeting the target if it is not implemented. Based on previous Council reports, current canopy cover (9.9%) will decrease or at best remain static if this local law is not introduced, making it the critical element in the strategy.
  3. There is no indication of any extra operational budget being put forward for the new action plan for this strategy to make an impact on this huge and crucial issue making the strategy not credible or diverting resources from other environmental/sustainability programs the only option.
  4. There is no annual monitoring of Greater Dandenong’s progress towards the targeted 15 per cent canopy cover. Measuring it each three years (as this strategy suggests – the other document said after seven years) won’t show whether we are on track or not and if extra resources and budget commitment is required.
  5. Action to implement Stage 2 of the Hot Spots project to educate the community about trees – programs like this need to be expanded to the general public, not just a few migrant and social service providers.
  6. CALD education actions need to start much earlier than 2024
  7. There is no mention of linkages to Greater Dandenong Biodiversity Action Plan and little mention of the crucial role that large trees plays in habitat creation.
  8. Action on the 3 year research project on tree value understanding in our multicultural community should be undertaken with Council budget not be dependent on grant funding. Grants should be for optional projects, not projects that are core to the strategy.
  9. There is no establishment of a Significant Tree Register on private land, which has been successful in other Council areas.
  10. While the strategy indicates the importance of actions regarding green roofs and walls, there is no plan on how to make them happen on either public or private land.
  11. There is no mention of consultation with our indigenous community, particularly about trees on private and public land important to them.
  12. The document is not written in plain English. Despite Moreland being an area with more tertiary educated residents, their Urban Forest Strategy is easier to read. QUESTION 5: ARE THERE ANY WAYS COUNCIL ASSIST RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES WITH TREE PLANTING SUGGESTION: All of these are important but don’t tackle the hard issues above in the suggested answers to Question 4. My suggestion is choose these as your top three to make the most impact a) Council planting more trees on public land, b) community engagement and advocacy for more tree protection controls in the Planning Scheme are the most important ones. QUESTION 6: – ARE THERE OTHER WAYS THAT COUNCIL COULD ASSIST RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES WITH TREE PLANNING? Establishing a Neighbourwoods Program: this includes Council support for residential and community greening initiatives, rate rebates for greening, improved education campaigns and free or subsidised trees. Similar programs have been running in NSW, USA and Canada for over a decade. Having a brand inclusive of all actions to encourage greening of private land will help cut through communication wise to the community and could be run neighbourhood by neighbourhood, targeting areas of Greater Dandenong with the lowest canopy cover. QUESTION 7: WOULD YOU SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF A MUNCIPAL WIDE LOCAL LAW AND WHY/WHY NOT? Pick: Strongly Agree SUGGESTED WHY: Because that takes the hard action necessary to really lift our canopy cover by stopping the cutting down of large trees that provide large canopy cover. QUESTION 8: DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER COMMENTS ABOUT THE DRAFT URBAN FOREST STRATEGY OR GREENING OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS STRATEGY? SUGGESTED ANSWER: To respond as if we are really in a climate emergency (which Greater Dandenong Council has declared it is in) it needs to be more ambitious, better resourced and set canopy cover targets that are achievable with the actions in the documents and where canopy cover increase/decrease is measured annually.