Keeping our Canopy – WEPA Submission on Willoughby Tree/Veg Policy
WEPA has recently finalised a submission in response to Willoughby City Council’s (WCC) draft Vegetation Management Policy, Guidelines and Development Control Plan (Part C9).
The full WEPA submission can be seen here. The WEPA recommendations below may assist you if you would like to make final comments on the tree policy before it closes at cob on Thursday 19 December. Here is the WCC Have Your Say link: https://www.haveyoursaywilloughby.com.au/vegetation-policy-guidelines-DCP
In many respects, WEPA applauds the revised policy believing it brings a more standardised and consistent approach to tree and vegetation management in our LGA.
We have a range of recommendations to make about the policy and some broader recommendations about planning and biodiversity strategies.
Here are the main recommendations we made about the policy:
- In future policy review exercises, complex draft WCC policy and guidelines should be accompanied by an executive summary of the major changes between the original and revised policy.
- That WCC raise awareness of the relatively low risk of injury or death caused by trees and the fact that this risk can be mitigated even further when council and tree owners work together to take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management.
- That WCC provide sufficient resources for the completion of the street tree inventory, the planning and mapping of new planting opportunities and the establishment of an ambitious target for future tree coverage in Willoughby LGA.
- That the policy be rebadged as the ‘Vegetation Protection and Management’ policy and guidelines, or similar, to involve the community in a shared understanding of the value of our ‘green infrastructure’.
- that WCC undertake a review to determine areas of Willoughby’s Natural Heritage Register which require updating.
- that Council review its LEP and DCP to identify further opportunities to help maintain existing canopy cover and vegetation and implement additional canopy cover and vegetation in new developments.
- that Council Bushland team be resourced appropriately to assess the value of habitat trees to local biodiversity.
- that the section of 5.8 in the Guidelines which makes provision for the pruning of public trees to provide filtered views to individuals be deleted.
- that the draft Guidelines at item 5.3 be expanded to provide more advice on who will be notified in relation to clearing, pruning and tree removal.
- that approvals relating to vegetation clearing, pruning or removal be accessible on Council’s website dedicated to tree/vegetation transactions. This would allow anyone to log on and see if a vegetation permit has been lodged and approved for a particular address and to then discuss their concerns with Council if necessary.
- That Council prepare a biodiversity strategy – to complement Council’s proposed Vegetation Protection and Management Policy – which will inform wildlife corridor planning and wildlife protection measures across the LGA.
- that all references to replacement trees in the three policy documents refer to a need to ‘replace, wherever possible, with appropriate native vegetation species’.
- that WCC identify biodiversity corridors and improve habitat protection, enhancement and connectivity within and beyond the city through planning controls and Council works programs.
- that Council identifying additional areas as ‘environmentally sensitive areas’ to protect them from loss of canopy and other environmental values due to complying development.
- that the Plan include a commitment to work with North Sydney Council to undertake a flora and fauna survey of the Flat Rock Gully catchment to provide a base from which to respond to the EIS for the proposed Beaches Link tunnel which will impact on this remediated and regenerated bushland area.
- that WCC undertake a review of the Council policy of replacing natural grass turf, which is cooler and provides an ecosystem for wildlife, with artificial turf on local sportsfields.
- that education programs and pamphlets be prepared in a range of community languages and that specific publication be prepared for people thinking of buying property in the LGA which include advice on the council’s position on tree protection and the importance of canopy coverage to the community.
- that WCC includes in its Vegetation Protection and Management Policy the establishment of a native nursery which would generate stock for local plantings by Council and be open to the public for sales and education programs.
- Consider the establishment of a Native Havens program, such as that run by North Sydney Council, whereby Council provides free plants, support and education to private residents to establish native vegetation on their property.
Please contact WEPA on firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information.