Cairns and Launceston councils pacesetters in urban afforestation

Australia‘s urban canopy cover continues to increase, with the City of Launceston the stand-out local government performer over the past four years.

In the period 2016-20, tree-cover in the northern Tasmania local government area increased 9.5 percent, according to the 2020 update of a national benchmark of urban canopy cover begun in 2013.

The report, which maps tree-cover across 131 local governments, said Queensland’s Cairns Regional Council had Australia’s highest recorded level of green cover, at 82.9 percent

Yarra Ranges Council in Victoria, together with the Hornsby Shire Council (NSW) were acknowledged as having the second leafiest LGAs in Australia, with green coverage of 78.6 percent.

The report noted, however, that 73 percent of LGAs increased their hard surfaces, or grey cover between 2016-20 – with the City of Bayswater in WA recording the highest increase at 6.9 percent, followed by the City of Burnside (SA) at 5.2 percent, and the City of Ryde (NSW) at 5.0 percent.

“[Most] of Australia’s places have lost green cover since 2013,” the report says.

“Many have arrested the decline in recent years, but many have not. Of more concern, 67 percent of our urban areas face significant challenges in growing and maintaining green cover into the future.”

Where will all the Trees Be? is the latest update of the green cover benchmarking of Australia’s cities and suburbs by the Greener Spaces Better Places initiative, a collaboration involving academia, business and government whose goal is to ensure that growth of green spaces keeps pace with the spread of urbanisation.

To that end, the 77-page report includes case-studies of urban greening and outlines strategies for greening in areas of different climate and contexts.

The report also has a feature allowing people to enter their postcode to see how tree cover in their area compares with similar places elsewhere in Australia.