Trees planted beside street with overhead powerlines

Urban Trees: making choices for a changing climate

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As our local climate becomes hotter and drier, street trees and private spaces can be used for valuable passive interventions to modify the local microclimate. Informed decision-making about tree varieties and placement are essential to have targeted and long-term impacts in our local towns and cities.

In 2022, the Ararat Landcare Group partnered with Ararat Rural City Council and our neighbouring Landcare groups in Stawell and Beaufort to investigate the future of urban trees across our region.

Benefits of Urban Trees

Urban trees provide a number of benefits to our community. As individuals, we benefit from shading and cooling provided by trees. They can also reduce flooding, stormwater runoff and air pollution. Urban trees add natural beauty to our town and help to improve mood and mental health. They also provide habitat for birds, lizards and insects in town.

Urban trees are essential for creating sustainable cities. For example, in one year a street tree can absorb 22kgs of carbon dioxide, reduce indoor air pollution by more than 50%, intercept 15,410L of rain, removing it from stormwater runoff and flooding events, reduce heat-related deaths by 40-99%, dramatically increase native bird and insect assemblages in the area and reduce feelings of loneliness and stress in every person that sees them.

Challenges of Urban Trees

We recognise that there are some challenges to planting trees in urban environments. Many residents have concerns about falling leaves and branches, or damage caused by tree roots. We recommend regularly sweeping or raking up leaf litter and other tree debris and regular tree inspections to ensure trees are structurally sound. Where feasible, root training strategies are implemented at the time of planting, or infrastructure is root-proofed, such as opting for more flexible and water permeable materials for sidewalks, such as porous paving solutions. Also, pruning your backyard trees when they are young helps them grow into a strong form and reduces the likelihood of problems in the future. Consult with local gardeners or nurseries for more detailed advice.

Make the right choices about planting trees

Planting the right tree variety in the right place is one action we can take to adapt to the changes in our climate to create sustainable and liveable cities for the future.

This booklet provides information on what to plant and where to get the most out of trees in your backyard.

Watch the videos to learn more about planting trees in your backyard:

Urban Trees seminar

In March 2022, Ararat Landcare Group held a seminar to discuss the challenges of planning for a changing climate and making the best choices for trees and shrubs for our streets and gardens. We invited Rob Gell to discuss the challenges of a changing climate and Dr Greg Moore to describe some of the opportunities and challenges for including trees in urban landscapes.

Click below to view their talks.

Urban Trees in Ararat

As part of the Urban Trees project, Ararat Landcare Group conduct a review of current urban tree policies and guidelines. This review included other regional strategies (e.g. CVGA – Cool It, Glenelg Hopkins CMA – Regional Catchment Strategy, Ararat Rural City Council – Environmental Sustainability Strategy) and work from other regions to ensure that best practices will be incorporated locally. This review was used to develop a guiding document that highlights challenges and opportunities for our region, as well as a guide for choosing street trees in our region.

Click below for more information.

Urban Trees demonstration sites

A new tree at one of the demonstration sites in Ararat

Ararat Landcare Group worked closely with Ararat Rural City Council to identify three demonstration sites (Laby Street, McGibbony Street, Gordon Street). Residents were invited to participate in a community planting weekend in July 2022.

All local residents are encouraged to become good stewards of the new trees in the street, as well as more established trees. It’s easy to care for local street trees, so they can care for you. Give them a little extra water in summer and avoid parking on nature strips.

Together, we can make our town a beautiful place to live.

In the news:

Russell Pearse, President, said the Ararat Landcare Group has been working closely with the community and ARCC to promote wise management of the region’s land and urban spaces for over 20 years.

“Landcare is a way to help our environment, wildlife, farmers and our communities,” Russell said.

“We know trees provide a multitude of benefits from having a positive impact on wellbeing, enhancing air quality to improving the urban heat island effect by providing shade,” he continued.

“We want to create a community-wide conversation about the challenges of maintaining biodiversity in a changing climate and managing urban trees, especially through extreme weather events.

Ararat Rural City Council Mayor, Cr Jo Armstrong said initiatives like community planting days can help raise greater awareness on the importance of regenerating our landscapes.

“Farmers, residents, retirees, and student volunteers in rural Landcare groups are vital supporters of natural resource management and land stewardship activities,” Cr Armstrong said.

“Landcare is not just about planting trees, in rural areas the Landcare movement helps prevent the spread of weeds and pests from farms and vineyards, as well as landscape rehabilitation works that improve soil condition, and prevent wind and soil erosion.

“This project in partnership with the Ararat Landcare Group looks at the role of street trees in our urban environment in mitigating climate change.

“I’d like to congratulate Ararat Landcare Group on their success in securing this grant, which underpins the important work Landcare volunteers do right across our community.”

Urban Trees logos

“Urban Trees – making choices for a changing climate” is supported by the Victorian Government and

funded through the Sustainability Fund – Supporting Our Regions to Adapt program.