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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 August 1993) . . Page.. 2263 ..

Public Landscapes - Plant Species

MR LAMONT: My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning. Minister, what is the ACT Government's attitude towards the selection of plant species for use in public landscapes in the Territory?

MR WOOD: Madam Speaker, generally there is a high priority for native species. Policies in this area have changed over a period. That priority has varied from time to time. Policies need to be reassessed, depending on the circumstances of the day. For example, in Gungahlin today there is a much greater incidence of medium to high density living. There are smaller allotments; so the suitability of trees can vary. I think the evidence in Canberra is that successful public landscaping requires, and has seen, a mix of both exotic and native species of trees and shrubs. The selection, and it comes across a number of departments, includes quite a range of criteria - environmental considerations, aesthetics, maintenance and public amenity. All are examined.

In Gungahlin the ratio of exotic to native plant species which will be planted is estimated at 30 per cent exotic and 70 per cent native. A considerable proportion of those native species will be native to the area. Bear in mind that there are some problems in respect of native species. Tree surgery costs are higher because they do tend to drop their limbs rather more frequently than other species, and their growth form is not always ideal and they have to be pruned, if I may use that word. It is also interesting to note that I get about one letter a week from residents asking me to remove eucalypts from their nature strip because - - -

Mr Kaine: Will you shift the two that have just been planted on my nature strip?

MR WOOD: Do you want to shift some? The residents consider either that they are a danger, with limbs dropping, or that they are blocking their access to sunlight. Eucalypts are not always universally favoured by local residents. In Gungahlin there will be a very careful process of ensuring that there are very good wildlife corridors along the hills, along the buffer zones. There will be ample linkage for wildlife through Gungahlin. It is clear that exotic species have their places, especially where the housing density is higher.

I am sure that members do not anticipate that we are going to rush to City Hill and knock down the exotics that are there, or move into Forrest, Red Hill, Deakin or almost any of the older parts of Canberra and change the treescapes that are there. Again I say that the Government has a great interest in native species. We are doing quite a deal with grasses. We are looking to exploit our native grasses. Mr Connolly and I, the other day, launched a water conscious project of native plantings. There will be one across the road here, between us and ACTEW, I think, before the end of the year, to demonstrate the benefits of native species and how that may cut down on water usage.

Ms Follett I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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