Sydney heading for a cool green future

Sydney heading for a cool green future

Monday March 11, 2013

Sydney will become a leafier, healthier and more liveable place under the City Of Sydney’s Urban Forest Strategy to increase the size of the city’s tree canopy by 50 per cent by 2030.

Increasing the amount of trees and plants in parks in streets, and on public and private land will cool buildings, reduce power bills and beautify the city.

“Our growing urban forest contributes greatly to the city’s character as well as improving our air, soil and water quality,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Trees humanise the space as well as shading pedestrians, screening unwanted views and reducing glare.

“They also contribute to the local economy by increasing the attractiveness of shopping and dining precincts, reducing the urban heat island effect and attracting higher rents and sale values to residential areas.”

Like many municipalities around the world, the City periodically measures the size of the tree canopy because of the multiple social, economic and environmental benefits including improved air quality and reduced climate change that urban forests provide.

“We want to create great streets and public spaces, while protecting and improving our urban forest, by planting the appropriate trees for each street and park and increasing the diversity of species in our area,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Street trees improve mental health and well-being by reducing stress in urban green spaces, as well as providing a sense of place and enhancing property values. Deciduous trees cut your summer cooling bills, while still allowing in light and warmth through during winter.”

There are around 81,000 trees in the City of Sydney area which provide a canopy cover of just over 15 per cent. Under the Urban Forest Strategy to plant more trees and shrubs this would increase to more than 23 per cent by 2030 and to 27 per cent by 2050.

Each year one mature tree can absorb 3,400 litres of stormwater, filter 27 kilograms of pollutants from the air and provide a cooling effect equivalent to continuously running 10 air conditioners with larger trees providing four to eight times the benefit of smaller trees.

The City has also reviewed  its Tree Management Policy and adopted five principles for maintaining its urban forest: make tree protection a priority in all City activities, plant the right trees in the right location, give public safety the highest priority when considering tree removal,  provide specialised care for trees and consult with the community on managing trees.

City of Sydney Chief Arborist Karen Sweeney said the new plans would see a range of deciduous and evergreen, and a variety of small, medium and large trees planted across the city centre and villages.

“Despite a densely urbanised area and harsh conditions in the City Centre, we have trees growing healthily and happily and we are planting more,” Ms Sweeney said.

In another step to help care for Sydney’s trees, the City has updated its Register of Significant Trees to now include 2,645 of the most important individual trees and groups of trees according to their visual, botanic, historical and social significances as well as their ecological value.

The heritage values for each listed tree or group of trees have been summarised into a Statement of Significance based on criteria developed by the NSW Heritage Office.

Members of the public and individuals nominated 320 individual trees and groups of trees, all of which were investigated and assessed.

The Register of Significant Trees will now go on community exhibition where people can provide comments or nominate additional trees while Council had adopted the draft Urban Forest Strategy and the Tree Management Policy. 

Media Contact:

For more information please contact Senior Media Adviser Matthew Moore on 0431 050 963 or

For interviews with the Lord Mayor please contact Jonathon Larkin on 0477 310 149 or