Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 737 ..
period, at the rate of 100,000 trees a year, would have achieved a 30 per cent tree canopy by 2026. How good would that be?
A Canberra Liberals government would have also given every child a tree on their first day of kinder. That contrasts with the government’s poor record on tree planting at schools, which equates to fewer than five trees per school since 2017. Put simply, Canberra’s tree canopy and precious green space have gone backwards under this government.
The Canberra Liberals understand the importance of achieving at least a 30 per cent urban tree canopy sooner rather than later and want to emphasise the tripartisan support for this worthy environmental goal. On that point, I would like to acknowledge and thank Mr Braddock for adopting amendments that I planned to move to this motion that stress the tripartisan support for this target. We also support annual updates to the Assembly about the government’s efforts towards the target and a report on the current tree canopy percentage by suburb.
It is the Canberra Liberals who will hold the government to account—the government Mr Braddock is a member of—just as the Canberra Liberals have been demanding answers from the Greens leader and minister for emissions reduction, Shane Rattenbury, about when the government will begin work on a major review of the climate act. It should have started last year.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Canberrans are concerned about the loss of trees. You only need to read the letters page to know that. We know how much our trees add to our environment, wellbeing and quality of life. Tree canopies are under threat, particularly in our older suburbs, with development leaving only postage stamp sized gardens and no canopy plantings.
Too many Canberrans are mourning the loss and lack of trees in neighbourhoods that increasingly appear barren and grey. We are not out of the woods. We can see the grey cover mounting and we need the green cover increasing alongside it. A tripartisan effort to achieve at least a 30 per cent urban tree canopy is a worthwhile ambition that would make a positive difference to the places Canberrans call home.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.24): I thank Mr Braddock for bringing this important motion here today. I think we all agree that the ACT needs a greater tree canopy, and that is why we are working towards a 30 per cent tree canopy for 2045.
Prior to urban development in the ACT, what is now urban Canberra was largely a treeless plain. Developers are not clearing forest to build houses; they are building on former paddocks. We are protecting our forests and hills by preventing urban sprawl. We saw during the election campaign plans to bulldoze our surrounding forests. Having a compact city means that we are able to protect our surrounding hills.