Victoria Park, Australia

Photo by Kat Wray

Monitoring, Maintenance, and Management

How has the initiative been designed and implemented so that long-term needs for management and maintenance are reduced and can be met?

Incremental, program based approach: It was recognised that the 41 actions in our guiding Urban Forest Strategy were not directly implementable and to “hit the ground” running, it would require an additional project layer of defined projects to incrementally achieve each action. This process has shifted the implementation of our Urban Forest from a single project into a programme comprising a multitude of diverse projects delivered in a variety of methods. This allows for clear, measurable outcomes so that in the long term all management and maintenance decisions are based on the outcomes.

Our model for an open, participatory, incremental approach to strategy implementation that focuses on measurable, benefit linked, outcomes makes it easier to increase the 5 year implementation timeframes. This timeframe could be increased while the approach is maintained to represent a long term approach to strategy implementation. This could allow greater spread of resourcing, particularly budgets, to ease resource requirements. Following the success of this program, a program based Implementation approach has been adopted by other Town strategies including the Economic Development Strategy, Transport Strategy, Public Open Space Strategy and the planning reform program. 

Cross agency collaboration: The current focus of the greening activities is within the boundaries of the Town of Victoria Park however through continued collaboration with other Local Government Authorities this could be expanded. We are working with identified agencies to identify ecological corridors that run across local government boundaries providing a habitat connection between various key ecological sites.

What protocols are in place to facilitate monitoring of results?

As this is the Town’s first ever Urban Forest program, these qualitative and quantitative measurements of the project’s implementation had to be innovatively developed:

Canopy Focused Targets: The sees canopy coverage as a major benefit of trees in the inner urban environment. Hence we focus measurement on canopy coverage instead of tree numbers as a clear measure to track the progress we’re making toward the UFS outcomes.

Projected Canopy Cover: A methodology to measure our output and gauge efforts in achieving an eventual canopy coverage of 20% across public and private land. We use our own tree audit data to determine the average canopy size at maturity of each species. This data accounts for the size each species reach at maturity in local conditions and the urban context in which we plant them. We then tally the amount of each species planted yearly to determine the overall projected canopy figure for each project and planting season.

Canopy return on investment: Each tree species is designated a Canopy Return on Investment value, used in reviewing project efficiency. It is determined by comparing the Projected Canopy of a species and to the average canopy size of all mature trees audited. Canopy Return on Investment is a critical determining factor in species selection.

Canopy, Thermal and Vegetation Condition Mapping: The Town engages specialists to acquire and process remotely sensed data collected aerially and analysed every two years to track progress towards the Town’s aim of a total 20% Canopy coverage.

How has the initiative been enhanced in response to monitoring of results?

From the onset, it was recognised that the implementation of the Town’s Urban Forest programs needed to be a process that:

  1. allowed contrasting perceptions to be understood and respected; and
  2. focussed on building  momentum and excitement among the members and community.

This focus has allowed the Town and the Urban Forest Implementation Working Group to review its programs and achieve extraordinary progress toward delivering the strategic outcomes of the Town’s Urban Forest initiative.

Seven principles of operating our initiatives help to create common ground between differing perceptions between our community, Council and other stakeholders to enhance our implementation to date:

  1. A place based approach;
  2. Foster community involvement approach where everyone can get involved with different levels of commitment to suit;
  3. No master planning. Instead use a tree selection guide to accommodate for an open process with community opportunities;
  4. Developing a canopy based target that shifts focus away from numbers of trees to impact on health, environment, community, economy and climate;
  5. The use of storytelling to engage the hearts and minds of the community and residents;
  6. Open ideas for tree planting projects – inviting all stakeholders – internal and external – to propose projects;
  7. Create an appreciation for trees by presenting personal, cultural, historical stories of trees.