Wellington Shire Council celebrated a tree-mendous milestone last week, hitting its target of planting 100,000 indigenous plants in six years.
The planting is part of a long-term program to increase biodiversity, enhance habitat and improve liveability.
During Nakunbalook Environmental and Cultural Education Centre’s opening week festivities, students from Sale Primary School were honoured to dig in the momentous 100,000th plant – a Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) - on the banks of Sale’s Lake Guyatt, to much fanfare from the crowd.
Many schools and community members have been involved in planting since 2002 at sites across Wellington Shire, while Council’s Parks team also dons the gloves to ensure an average of about 16,400 plants are planted per year.
The 100,000 indigenous plants do not include Council’s regular street tree planting program, which would bring the figure closer to 115,000. This program improves Wellington Shire’s urban forest, in line with Council’s Greening Wellington Plan.
Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye said he was thrilled with what the milestone would mean for all walks of life.
“It’s amazing to think about the difference 100,000 trees, shrubs and grasses can make to the local environment, in terms of improving biodiversity and amenity for residents, as well as reducing the effects of climate change,” Cr Bye said.
“We have a further target of increasing tree canopy cover to 30 per cent within town boundaries by 2040 to improve liveability by reducing the ‘urban heat island’ effect, increase property values, and support biodiversity.”
Planting native species is a core part of several of Council’s operations.
On public land, trees, shrubs and grasses improve amenity by increasing residents’ activity in and appreciation of the natural environment, with studies proving connecting with nature is essential for physical and mental wellbeing.
Increasing Wellington Shire’s urban forests and trees will help local townships cope better with future temperature increases, as tree canopy cover absorbs radiant heat from the sun and shades the spaces beneath during extreme heat in summer.
Green spaces not only make Wellington Shire a beautiful place to live for humans, but plants also improve waterway and soil health, remove carbon dioxide from the air and provide crucial habitat and food to allow local insects, reptiles, frogs, birds and other wildlife to thrive.
Council hopes residents will take a leaf out of its book and consider planting native species in their own gardens.
‘The Environment and Climate Change’ is a strategic direction of Wellington Shire in the 2021-25 Council Plan. Planting trees is also a key action of Council’s Sustainability Strategy 2020-24.
For further information on how you or your group can be involved in future plantings please contact Council’s Sustainability Education Officer Sharon Ray on 1300 366 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org