The draft Urban Forest Strategy is a four-year action plan to increase and diversify new plantings in our urban forest and better protect, monitor and appreciate our existing trees and vegetation.

Select a tab below to read more about the objectives and strategic actions in each branch of the draft Strategy.

Increase

Increase tree canopy cover to reach 25% across the municipality by 2030

Identifying opportunities to plant more trees should be undertaken to increase habitat connectivity, advance neighbourhood character, and ensure the safety of the Bayside community and visitors is not lessened by low visibility, limited lighting, or lack of passive surveillance.

Both public and private land have a role to play in reaching the target and a nuanced approach tailored to the regulatory framework and conditions will be considered.



Strategy 1.1: Consider the individual needs of Bayside’s suburbs and ensure that the approach to increasing canopy cover and urban forest outcomes is tailored to the conditions of each area.

  • Prepare Precinct based Urban Forest Plans to respond to site specific challenges and identify opportunities for increased planting
    In order to increase tree canopy cover across the entire municipality, it is important that Council understands and recognises the key challenges, especially those that are site specific and contributing to low canopy cover within that suburb. A key action of this Strategy will be to prepare precinct based urban forest plans to identify:
    • priority areas for increased planting, including hotspots, areas of declining canopy or aging trees, highly trafficked pedestrian routes and gaps/vacancies in public planting;
    • areas of significant landscape character,
    • potential hotspots and potential habitat/biodiversity corridors across both public and private land.
    • Opportunities for boulevard plantings and the creation of improved streetscape outcomes;

Once precinct based urban forest plans have been adopted by Council, a planning scheme amendment will be undertaken to implement these plans and to ensure the appropriate vegetation related controls are in place across Bayside.

  • Habitat Connectivity

Bayside City Council currently manages a combined total of nearly 60,000 trees including more than 45,000 street trees and over 12,700 park trees. Bayside’s reserves provide a high level of quality habitat, however this connectivity to other areas in Bayside is limited. Habitat connectivity has been identified as a key issue to address in the Biodiversity Action Plan and this involves identifying the suitable locations in which to prioritise tree and understorey planting. Identifying potential habitat and biodiversity corridors across both public and private land will be further investigated through the preparation of precinct based urban forest plans.

Strategy 1.2: Reframe Council’s approach to major capital and infrastructure renewal projects as opportunities to increase urban forestry outcomes.

  • Increasing tree and vegetation cover through Council's Capital Projects
    Site specific opportunities to scope tree planting in Councils Capital projects like streetscape upgrades and the renewal or development of community buildings and sports clubs can be undertaken to increase tree and vegetation cover in Bayside. These projects provide the best opportunities to increase tree canopy cover and planting new and diverse trees and vegetation should form part of the scope and delivery of these projects.
  • Opportunity for increased tree planting
    Council’s contractor (Citywide) maintains a database of identified vacant sites that have become available or alternate sites to replace the trees that have been removed, and this database is used for future tree planting. There are currently 4,023 vacant sites identified in Council’s database. This database will continue to be utilised as an ‘easy wins’ to identifying locations for increased tree planting in Bayside.

Through the preparation of precinct based urban forest plans, Council will identify more locations for new trees by setting priority to areas that have high urban heat vulnerability, low tree canopy cover, declining canopy or aging trees. Highly trafficked pedestrian routes and areas undergoing an increase in development will also be targeted as places for boulevard planting and improved streetscape opportunities.

Through promotion and incentivisation, Council will encourage the increase of tree planting on private land and share information and support on how to best manage and maintain trees.

Strategy 1.3: Through the Bayside Planning Scheme, require development to provide increases to the number of canopy trees provided.

  • Investigate an Amendment to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone Schedule
    Once finalised and adopted, Council will incorporate the Precinct based Urban Forest Plans. Where the Precinct plans have identified the need to amend or introduce new controls on a site or suburb specific basis, this will also be incorporated into the Bayside Planning Scheme alongside the Precinct Plans.
  • Incorporating the Bayside Landscape Guidelines in the Bayside Planning Scheme
    Council will update the Bayside Landscaping Guidelines to ensure they provide further guidance on species selection, sizes, and trees suitable for private property and introduce the guidelines into the Bayside Planning.
  • Increasing the ability to protect Significant Trees
    Approximately 83% of the Bayside municipality is within the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. Greater requirements for increased tree canopy cover and retention of existing trees within this zoning designation has the most potential to create significant change to canopy cover on private property. Council will also investigate options to strengthen the protection of Significant Trees through the planning scheme.
  • Encourage the inclusion of Environmentally Sustainable Development
    There are many opportunities to integrate living (green) walls and green roofs in high to medium density developments and the introduction of the State-wide ESD (Environmentally Sustainable Development) provision will assist the integration of ESD in Bayside.

INCREASE ACTION PLAN

  1. Adopt an approach where trees are prioritised in planning for Council capital projects (including civil renewal/upgrades)
  2. Increase the number of trees planted across public land to 2000+ per annum.
  3. Prepare precinct based urban forest plans to identify:
    • priority areas for increased planting, including hotspots, areas of declining canopy or aging trees, highly trafficked pedestrian routes and gaps/vacancies in public planting;
    • areas of significant landscape character;
    • connections to conservation reserves and areas with high biodiversity value/attributes;
    • strategic opportunities for the undergrounding of powerlines;
    • potential hotspots and potential habitat/biodiversity corridors across both public and private land; and
    • Opportunities for boulevard plantings and the creation of improved streetscape outcomes.
  4. Undertake the strategic justification to amend the current Vegetation Protection Overlay in Beaumaris and Black Rock to strengthen protection of Native Vegetation and non-native species of existing canopy trees
  5. Undertake a planning scheme amendment to implement the Precinct Plans and to ensure the appropriate vegetation related controls are in place across Bayside.
  6. Undertake a planning scheme amendment to introduce the Bayside Landscape Guidelines into the Bayside Planning Scheme.
  7. Increase the utilisation of green walls and roofs in Activity Centres, particularly where the planting of canopy trees are more constrained or where large walls are significant views from neighbouring properties.
  8. Ensure new development provides opportunities for canopy tree planting within development sites, including appropriate land set aside for root growth.
  9. Prepare and implement plans to create conservation reserves for public land at Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve and Highett Grassy Woodland (the former CSIRO site) in Highett.
  10. Identify open space areas that can be rezoned to the Public Conservation and Resource Zone for the purpose of conservation and to promote biodiversity within these areas as Ecological Vegetation Communities.
  11. Investigate opportunities to create new public open space, ensuring that the design of these spaces are contributing to Bayside’s urban forest outcomes.

Diversify

Create a diverse and healthy urban forest

A diverse mix of tree species is important to maintain a healthy and resilient urban forest. As the climate continues to change, it is important to provide a wider range of species that can tolerate harsher climates. A diverse range of tree species will also lessen the urban forests’ vulnerability to pests and diseases.


Strategy 2.1: Increase the tree and vegetation canopy cover that is of a diverse range of species across Bayside

  • Update Council regulation to ensure a diverse range of species are being planted in Bayside
    Currently, Council has two guidelines in place to provide criteria of tree species for planting in Bayside.
    • Tree Selection Guide, which applies to Council owned land; and
    • Bayside Landscape Guidelines, which applies to private land.

  • Increase the utilisation of different species in Councils Public Tree Planting Program
    Council plants approximately 1,400 trees per year in Streets and parks. As the number of trees being planted increases, so should the diversity in species. The public tree planting program provides a great opportunity to increase species diversity, habitat and local character.

While the current framework for both guidelines is already strong, it is recommended that both documents reflect the need to ensure that diverse species selection is achieved.

While increasing the use of different species is of importance, it is equally imperative to note that in natural areas within Bayside, protection of indigenous flora is and will remain priority. Balancing these priorities will be an important aspect when preparing the Precinct based Urban Forest Plans for each suburb.


DIVERSIFY ACTION PLAN

12. Increase species (genus) diversity across public tree plantings to ensure a range of species are incorporated to minimise the potential of large impacts of losses on Bayside’s canopy.
13. Update the Street and Park Tree Selection Guide to ensure that indigenous plantings and diverse species selection is achieved.
14. Undertake a review of the Bayside Landscape guidelines to require greater emphasis on native plantings.
15. Increase the species cover in nature strips by:

  • Reviewing the appropriate species lists for plantings in nature strips;
  • Requiring new development to provide landscaped nature strips as part of landscaping plans, in accordance with relevant nature strip planting policies and guidelines;
  • Identifying opportunities for planting of additional trees;
  • Having regard to trees/species nearing the end of their useful life;
16. Ensure that new habitat and biodiversity outcomes are building on the direction provided in Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan.

Monitor

Improve the ability to monitor and track Bayside’s urban forest

Expanding the Bayside Urban Forest while also ensuring its healthy and resilient status requires an effective and integrated approach across Council. It is important that practices and processes for administration, planning, delivery and knowledge sharing are of high standard and complement Council’s ability to accurately monitor the Bayside Urban Forest as it grows and diversifies.

overall

Strategy 3.1: Improve, implement, and facilitate Council processes and procedures to assist the monitoring of the urban forest

  • Implementing the Urban Tree Monitoring Project
    Council will continue to develop the Urban Tree Monitoring Project to ensure Council is able to track and measure tree canopy cover across Bayside. The Tool will allow Council to continue monitoring the loss and gain of trees over time, and health of the urban forest as new trees start to develop.

Following the implementation of the Tool, the data collected could expand to identify tree height and species on private property and identify and predict areas that are vulnerable to potential heat island effect.

  • Improving Council’s Local Law and Planning Permit data collection
    To ensure Council can retain and look to increase tree and vegetation cover on private property, it is important that Council continue its enforcement and compliance program to ensure that replacement plantings are provided and retained. Improvements to Councils data collection processes through both local law and planning permits should capture and monitor trends relating to locations and species for removal and ensure that all new replacement plantings are captured spatially and recorded as part of Councils Urban Tree Monitoring Project.
  • Monitoring the health of trees impacted by construction activity
    As development continues to increase, so does the impacts on trees due to construction activity. The number of Council owned street trees that have been indirectly impacted due to construction activity upon nearby or adjacent property development sites is unknown.

  • Enhancing our enforcement and compliance programs
    Continue Council's enforcement and compliance program for Local Law Tree Removal Permits to ensure that replacement plantings are provided and retained, at the point of completion for new development, and at 2 and 10 years after, with an aim for a minimum of 75% target compliance.

Council’s ability to retain mature Council managed trees can be strengthened by undertaking a pilot project to observe the health of trees nearby development sites and whether any impacts are attained during the construction phase. The findings of this project would justify any strengthening of Council’s asset protection and the application of tree bonds on street trees.

Currently, Council undertakes a landscape audit prior to issuing the Certificate of Occupancy. Similarly to the Local Law enforcement and compliance, Council should investigate the extension of the landscape audit and compliance to also be undertaken at 2 and 10 years after.

Strategy 3.2: Celebrate and promote work undertaken by Council, State Government, Local Government, academics, and professionals.

  • Knowledge and Data Sharing

It is important to bring together industry, business, government, academia and individuals, providing tools, resources and networks necessary to reach our shared goal of greener and more climate friendly cities.

Programs that bring peers together to exchange and build knowledge have been and will be important to achieve our shared aspirations for a connected and enhanced urban forest.


MONITOR ACTION PLAN

17. Continue to develop the Urban Tree Monitoring Tool to ensure Council can:

  • Track and measure canopy cover and tree numbers
  • Strengthen the model to aim to create modelling and forecasting scenarios
  • Aim to expand the software to be able to identify tree height and species in the longer term.
  • Aim to embed a heat mapping tool within the model to be able to predict future areas vulnerable to potential urban heat island effect.
  • Present the spatial representation of tree species and diversity across Bayside.

18. Develop a health and wellbeing indicator related to trees and the urban forest in future revisions to Council’s Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan.
19. Improve Council’s data collection processes through its local law permit capture to monitor trends in relation to:

  • Reasons for tree removal,
  • Identify trends and track locations and species for removal.
  • Ensure new replacement plantings are captured spatially and recorded into Council’s GIS/Urban Tree Monitoring Tool

20. Improve Council’s data collection processes through planning permit and asset protection capture and monitor trends in relation to:

  • Reasons for tree removal
  • Trends, locations and species for removal
  • The health of trees impacted by construction activity within Tree Protection Zones.
21. Ensure that the reasons for the removal of public trees are captured and recorded to monitor trends.
22. Create an Urban Forest Officer position within Council to oversee the delivery of the Urban Forest Strategy projects and embed the changes required to deliver the actions within the organisation.
23. Continue Council's enforcement and compliance program to ensure that replacement plantings are provided and retained, at the point of completion for new development, and at 2 and 10 years after. Aim for a minimum of 75% target compliance.
24. Continue Council’s landscape auditing program for landscape plans prior to issuing Certificate of Occupancy. Investigate Council’s ability to expand this auditing to undertake an enforcement and compliance program to landscaping plans 2 and 10 years after.



Maintain

Maintain our existing canopy cover on private property and avoid further decline

Whilst new planting of trees is a key tool to support increased canopy, it will not be sufficient to rely on new plantings alone to be able to meet canopy targets. Ensuring that the existing tree population does not decline will be an important avenue to meet targets and ensuring that Bayside’s valued character is protected. In order to ensure that outcomes are delivered across both public and private land, it will be necessary to ensure that private land are delivering positive outcomes in terms of climate, canopy and biodiversity. There are a number of strategies to consider as part of maintaining the 16% canopy cover that currently exists across Bayside.


Strategy 4.1: Ensure the tree removal process is transparent and equitable, and tree removal is a last resort.

  • Develop a program to support vulnerable residents to assist the maintenance of canopy trees on their property
    There is opportunity to support the pruning and maintenance of these trees and Council should investigate the creation of a volunteer network to be able to support clean-up of debris and leaf litter. Given the aging population, maintenance of trees is expected to be an issue that continues to grow and ensuring that mechanisms are in place to reduce tree removal could be a key outcome from the Strategy.
  • Provide an advisory service to support residents when considering whether to cut down trees with their options around pruning and maintenance that may avoid removal of the tree.
    Council must act proactively and provide upfront support to property owners that have a large tree on their property. Ensuring that residents have the right information when making a decision to remove a tree is key, and pruning and other maintenance should be considered before removal is proposed. Council could investigate the possibility to introduce a ‘Tree Education Officer’ to assist those residents that learn more on how to best maintain trees on their property, aiming to increase the education levels in the community about how important trees are in our urban environment.

  • Increasing the number of trees on the Significant Tree Register
    Council will undertake work to increase the number of trees of the Significant Tree Register on both private and public land. To ensure the protection of these trees is maximised, Council will investigate options to include significant trees within the Bayside Planning Scheme.

  • Prioritise the retention of tree and vegetation cover through Council's Capital Projects
    Providing an advisory service to support residents that are considering whether to cut down trees with options around pruning and maintenance that may avoid the removal of the tree.

Strategy 4.2: Enhance Council’s ability to retain existing trees on private property through increased regulation of tree removal.

  • Tree protection and management on Private Property
    The most effective way of regulating tree removal will be through the Planning Scheme, however it will take resources and time to ensure that any changes to the Scheme are justified, before being tested by an independent Planning Panel. The Minister for Planning will make the final decision on any Planning Scheme changes so it will be important to ensure that Council’s proposed changes are properly justified and considered.

In the interim, Council will investigate the current local law criteria for tree size requirements for tree removal permits to determine whether this should be varied whilst further planning controls are explored. Any amendment to the local law criteria should first undertake a comparative analysis to other municipalities. If the size requirements were to be amended, it should ensure the assessment of slender trunk trees to increase protection of more diverse species in Bayside.

Council will also update the Bayside Landscape Guidelines to ensure their application to both planning and local law permit applications. A review of the guidelines should also be undertaken to ensure advice on species selection and the outcomes expected on private property is well detailed and provides greater information to support a landscape character assessment, required through Clause 55.03-8.

Strategy 4.3: Support the maintenance and retention of trees on public land.

  • Increase the survival rates of Council Street and Park trees
    A high proportion of street and park trees planted and have struggled to survive, either during or after their initial period of high maintenance (first 2 years).

Expanding the urban forest and increasing tree canopy coverage will be challenging, especially if high tree attrition continues to occur. If increased tree canopy coverage is to be achieved, the tree population must be increased and maintained at higher numbers and attrition rates of the Council managed tree population must be improved for this to occur.

Council officers will continue its review of the maintenance program for new public trees to ensure Council is able to increase the survival rates of trees. Already, Council has amended the watering schedules for these trees. Through Council infrastructure projects, the utilisation of stormwater to irrigate Council managed trees in streets, parks and reserves, is becoming more common. This is an action identified within the ‘Water for Bayside’ Integrated Water Management Plan 2019-2039 which will assist keeping these trees alive for longer while also reducing Councils potable water use.

A review of Councils maintenance program should consider lengthening the current two-year period from when a tree is planted. It should also consider a lengthened management of trees that are inspected following the end of the maintenance period which appear to be in bad health.

There is a need to reframe and place higher value on the retention of trees and vegetation as part of Council Capital projects like streetscape upgrades and the renewal or development of community buildings and sports clubs. By reframing these projects to put the urban forest as the first consideration, it will allow for various forms of capital delivery to be primarily focused on the contribution it can make to the urban ecology through the works. This could be through the siting of a building to have the minimum environmental footprint, or for streetscape renewal works to prioritise the planting of trees, water sensitive infrastructure and other opportunities to improve urban forest outcomes in the public realm.


MAINTAIN ACTION PLAN

25. Review the Local Law tree size requirements for a tree removal permit to capture the assessment of slender trunk trees to increase protection of more diverse species in Bayside.

26. Appropriately assess planning applications for new development to ensure lighting does not impact conservation areas and is designed to minimise impacts on reserves, whilst ensuring safety is not compromised.

27. Investigate options through the Planning Scheme to strengthen protection for trees by:

  • Incorporating the Significant Tree Register within the Bayside Planning Scheme;
  • Undertaking a review of the types of vegetation that requires a planning permit to be removed (native and exotic);
  • Exploring the extent of the planning controls related to vegetation removal and whether these are meeting their intended purpose.

28. For newly planted Council managed trees, Council should minimise conflicts between these new plantings and the above and below ground infrastructure.

29. Update the Landscape Guidelines to:

  • Ensure their application to both planning and local law permit applications;
  • Provide detailed advice on species selection and the outcomes expected on private property; and
  • provide greater information to support a landscape character assessment, required through Clause 55.03-8.

30. Minimise the amount of trees and vegetation removed through the redevelopment process, and work with applicants at all stages of the development process to ensure that vegetation is retained wherever possible.

31. Review the maintenance program for new public trees to ensure that we are increasing survival rates including post-establishment period inspections.

32. Ensure that prioritised planting locations have regard to the risks of decline of canopy trees across Bayside and strengthening biodiversity corridors and habitat links.

33. Develop a program to support vulnerable residents to be able to maintain canopy trees that considers:

  • Opportunities to support the pruning and maintenance of trees;
  • Creation of volunteer networks to be able to support clean-up of debris and leaf litter.

34. Set a minimum target for street and park trees within the ‘good’ or ‘fair’ condition

35. Provide an advisory service to support residents when considering whether to cut down trees with their options around pruning and maintenance that may avoid removal of the tree.

36. Ensure new development that provides a landscape plan references the preferred landscape character of an area

37. The design of development to be delivered as a Council capital project should encourage the retention of established trees on public land.


Educate

Educate and encourage greater care and protection of the Bayside Urban Forest

Educating and encouraging greater care and protection of the Bayside Urban Forest is recognised as a key objective that supports Councils ability to both increase tree canopy cover and retain existing tree canopy cover in Bayside. Delivering a resilient and healthy urban forest relies on community acceptance, participation, and awareness. The outcomes from this Strategy are not something that Council can deliver on its own – all Bayside residents will have a role to play in increasing, diversifying and maintaining our urban forest and the role of education and support will continue to grow. Bayside has a strong network of volunteer organisations and can leverage their support to drive change across Bayside.


Strategy 5.1: Increase Council’s capacity to provide advice and build community sentiment to tree planting in Bayside

  • Preparation and Implementation of a Communications and Engagement Strategy targeted to private property and business owners
    Through information sharing, partnering with community groups and through community participation in tree planting on private and public land, the Bayside Urban Forest will flourish. Involving the community in tree planting can provide educational benefits as it can teach the community what needs to be done to ensure trees grow to be healthy and resilient. It can also increase neighbourhood ties, sense of community, and lead to a positive social effect.[1]

Engaging the community in activities such as tree plantings and maintenance can have a great impact on Bayside’s tree population. It provides residents with a platform to become involved with Bayside’s urban forest while also educating them on the best ways to care for their own trees at home. This will provide Council with a pathway to influence the tree population that exists on private land and help residents maintain their health. Bayside already has a strong network of ‘Friends of’ groups and community volunteers who carry out tree and vegetation plantings and would be great allies in this work.

Council will encourage landowner participation in greening, particularly for areas identified as having lesser canopy cover. This will be undertaken through a coordinated urban forest communications and engagement strategy that has a focus on education, awareness of the benefits of trees, and participation in increased tree planting through nominated planting days, giveaways, and information seminars.
[1] Plants People Planet, ‘The Benefits of Trees for Liveable and Sustainable Communities’, 2019,

Strategy 5.2: Continue to build Council’s green image and utilise this platform to advocate for greener outcomes

  • Advocate for greener community infrastructure
    Council should look to partner with State Government to increase tree and vegetation cover on Government owned schools, public housing, cemeteries, VicTrack and VicRoads land.

As the types of land uses that are owned by State Government departments are of varying kinds, any actions to increase tree and vegetation cover will require Council to liaise with relevant agencies to advocate and promote tree planting and greening initiatives. Council has been involved in many conversations with the State Government in relation to various working groups on different projects where the proposal of increased tree canopy cover can be discussed.

Strategy 5.3: Leverage from the strengths of our network of volunteers to support the delivery of community education.

  • Partnering with our community groups will allow Council to draw upon our highly engaged network of volunteers to support the delivery of programs and information across our community. There is a range of skills and experience available within these groups that Council can draw upon to promote and educate people on the benefits of a healthy urban forest and the role that they can play.

EDUCATE ACTION PLAN

38. Prepare a Communications and Engagement Strategy targeted to private property owners to:

  • Increase awareness of the role of landscape character in neighbourhoods, and how residents can contribute to and enhance the landscape character of an area;
  • Increase awareness of the cost savings and benefits that trees provide;
  • Appropriate species selection;
  • Case studies and examples of good practice gardening;
  • Understanding the risks, benefits and protections for canopy trees;
  • Advice on pruning, maintenance and volunteering opportunities;
  • Advice on how to grow the urban forest on residential land;
  • The support available to residents to assess whether a tree poses a risk to life or property;
  • Minimisation of tree vandalism
  • How surfaces can be changed to provide more permeable solutions in gardens and driveways

39. Advocate and Partner with the State Government to increase tree and vegetation cover on Government owned schools, public housing, cemeteries, VicTrack and VicRoads land.

40. Partner with community groups to ensure that the objectives from the Urban Forest Strategy are embedded in Council’s operating processes and public spaces.

41. Advocate to the State government to fund the undergrounding of powerlines in identified priority locations.

42. Partner with community groups to support residents to preserve and maintain significant vegetation on private property.