Major urban greening project underway

We are partnering with the Victorian Government to plant 150,000 trees, shrubs and grasses in an ambitious project to green our city and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the revegetation project will create habitat, support biodiversity and create jobs.

‘We will provide jobs to 64 people who would otherwise be unemployed as a result of COVID-19. They will work for six months on the largest revegetation project we have ever undertaken,’ the Lord Mayor said.

‘We have always appreciated the importance of our parks and gardens to our city and this has been even more evident during the pandemic. They provide space for people to safely exercise and enjoy some fresh air during lockdown.

‘We will plant a staggering 116,000 native grasses and wildflowers and 30,000 shrubs. This includes native wildflowers such as tufted bluebells and blushing bindweed, and grasses such as kangaroo grass and common wallaby grass.’

‘We will plant 1000 semi-advanced trees and 3000 tube stock trees. This includes indigenous species such as river red gum, golden wattle, coastal banksia and Yarra gum – a near threatened species in Victoria. This will be a marvellous investment in a healthier, greener city for coming generations.’

The ‘Greening the City’ project is a partnership between the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government, working with contractor CityWide, and funded through the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative.

Councillor Cathy Oke, Chair of the Environment portfolio, said the project will benefit the community, support biodiversity and help reduce the urban heat island effect.

‘Planting trees is one of the most effective and simple ways to respond to the climate and biodiversity emergency,’ Cr Oke said.

‘While we respond to COVID-19, we haven’t stopped taking climate action. As these new trees grow they will increase our city’s canopy coverage and help reduce the urban heat island effect by creating more shade.’

‘This project will create 24,000 square metres of understorey habitat, increasing understorey vegetation in the city by six per cent, in a significant step towards our goal to increase understorey cover by 20 per cent by 2027.

‘The 150,000 native plants and trees will provide crucial habitat for our 276 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs – as well as more than 1500 species of insects.’

What is understorey habitat?
Understorey vegetation refers to the small trees, shrubs and grasses below the canopy of taller trees. It provides important habitat for native animals and insects, including food, nest-building material and shelter.

Locations for the plantings include important nature reserves such as Royal Park, Dynon Road Tidal Canal, the Wildlife Reserve, Riverside Park and the banks of the Maribyrnong River.

Works include site preparation, planting, and works to protect the trees and plants from pests and diseases as they grow.

This project is in addition to our $1.8 million annual investment in planting 3000 semi-advanced trees each year.

‘This will make a big contribution towards our target of 40 per cent tree canopy cover on public land by 2040,’ Cr Oke said.

We have previously participated in the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative to provide 500 new cleaning roles servicing municipalities in inner Melbourne, working with Spotless and Citywide.

Staying focused on climate change action

Our commitment to the environment is stronger than ever. Even while we have been working to support our community through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve still been taking bold action on climate change.

Last year, Council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, joining a growing global community of like-minded governments. Our councillors have also unanimously endorsed a goal of net zero emissions for the municipality by 2040.

We have identified 10 priority areas to accelerate action to achieve our zero emissions target.

These include increasing the use of renewable energy, fast-tracking the delivery of protected bike lanes to encourage people to use more sustainable transport options, stimulating circular-economy solutions for waste, and mandating greening and zero emissions buildings through the planning scheme.

We must all work together to address climate change, including residents, small businesses, big businesses and all levels of government. For more information about what we’re doing and how you can help, visit Climate action.