The Government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is proposing a program that would entail that a tree is planted for everyone that is cut down. Property owners who do not want to plant another tree could pay a fee which will be used to generate the growing of trees on public land.
Due to rapid industrialization, trees are being cut at increasing rates throughout the world and this includes Canberra. A discussion paper that was conducted following a review of the Tree Protection Act proved that action will have to be taken if tree restoration is made more sustainable and thus environmental degradation is reduced.
Minister for City Services in Canberra, Chris Steel believes that concerted efforts need to be made to make tree restoration healthy.
“Under our existing tree protection laws, thousands of trees are removed on leased land in Canberra and not replaced,” he said. “We want to hear from the community how we can improve this outcome.
“We are specifically asking if the community supports introducing a system offsets so if a tree has to be removed, it will be replaced by one or more new trees.”
The government is hoping to increase canopy coverage from its current 21% to 30% by 2045.
“In reviewing the Tree Protection Act, we want to create a framework that ensures we can enhance the urban forest through a well-designed approach to respond to the threat of climate change and underpin the health, liveability, and wellbeing of Canberrans,” added
“We also want to ensure trees can contribute to the health and livelihood of the local community for generations to come. To do this we need to look at concepts like offsets.”
Responses from the public towards development are mixed. Some feel that the policy will be good and ensure that the environment is protected for future generations. The policy could also help to beautify the area and ensure that it does not become a “concrete jungle” which is a term that is used to describe many of the most technologically thriving cities throughout the world.
Critics believe that the policy is a means for the government to exert control over people and make more money as it will not actually help to promote environmental education. Others also believe that the policy may be hypocritical as the government is not doing sufficient work in order to remove trees in Canberra considered invasive species which are destructive to the environment.
The discussion paper is available online and can be accessed by clicking here.