Tree group fo­cus on canopies

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

STEM­MING tree canopy loss is the role of a new group of com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, coun­cil­lors and may­ors from Ned­lands, Clare­mont, Cottesloe, Pep­per­mint Grove and Mos­man Park who met in Swan­bourne last week.

“Wildlife does not re­spect elec­toral bound­aries and we have a lot of eco­log­i­cal is­sues that need ad­dress­ing, in­clud­ing hav­ing a co­or­di­nated ap­proach by all our coun­cils on those is­sues,” group co-con­venor and Cottesloe coun­cil­lor Sally Pyvis said.

The group plans to con­nect res­i­dents and de­ci­sion-mak­ers about tree canopies’ preser­va­tion, ed­u­cat­ing de­vel­op­ers about trees’ im­por­tance for pub­lic health and prop­erty val­ues, wa­ter col­lec­tion and cli­mate change, while po­ten­tially in­flu­enc­ing gov­ern­ments’ poli­cies and laws.

Cr Pyvis said care would have to be taken when lob­by­ing about pro­tect­ing tree canopy in pri­vate gar­dens, which were con­sid­ered “the last bas­tion” of an in­di­vid­ual’s right to trim or fell a tree.

Es­tab­lish­ing a western sub­urbs tree group fol­lows sim­i­lar com­mu­nity-driven moves at the ci­ties of Stir­ling and Belmont, both of which have had large falls in tree cover from in­fill, a lack of gar­dens in mod­ern homes and a dry­ing cli­mate.

Ned­lands Mayor Max Hip­kins said a tree pol­icy at his coun­cil saved about 200 trees while it lasted for about two years.

Mr Hip­kins and Mos­man Park Mayor Ron Nor­ris sug­gested the dor­mant Western Re­gional Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Coun­cils act as the bridge be­tween the pub­lic and gov­ern­ments.

How­ever, Shire of Pep­per­mint Grove Pres­i­dent Rachel Thomas said the WA Plan­ning Com­mis­sion would “strike out any­thing they don’t like” in lo­cal plan­ning schemes that at­tempted to pro­tect trees, in­clud­ing de­mand­ing more land­scap­ing, pro­hibit­ing sealed drive­ways across the width of blocks and us­ing ter­races and spa­ces on roofs as gar­dens in build­ing ap­pli­ca­tions.

Clare­mont coun­cil­lor and Friends of Lake Clare­mont mem­ber Bruce Haynes said the group could have a sim­i­lar con­sul­ta­tive role as the environmental group Friends of Lake Clare­mont.

“The Cottesloe beach car park is an ex­panse of tar­mac, and ev­ery 10th or 20th bay could be ripped out and tree put in,” Cottesloe Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent John Ham­mond said.

The group’s role will be de­ter­mined us­ing in­for­ma­tion gath­ered at the meet­ing be­fore an­other gath­er­ing is or­gan­ised.

Group co-con­venors Sally Pyvis and Anielka Briggs.

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