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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Friday, 23 April 2021) . . Page.. 1213 ..

As a final note, it is important to note there are many variables that affect canopy cover other than Government-managed removals and plantings over time.

Environment—urban vegetation

Ms Vassarotti (in reply to a question by Mr Parton on Tuesday, 30 March 2021):

The Question on Notice is premised on a graph presented in the report “Temperature check: Greening Australia's warming cities” by Monash University and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) which showed that between 2013 and 2020 the ACT had the largest reduction in urban forest cover of any Local Government Area (LGA) covered in the report. This report indicates a reduction of total urban vegetation in Canberra from 62 per cent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2020.

This report used data from “Where will all the trees be? An assessment of urban forest cover and management for Australian cities” produced by NESP Hub for Clean Air and Urban Landscapes at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

As this was clearly a concerning outcome for the ACT and one which required further investigation, Mr Braddock MLA’s office were able to contact the researchers from RMIT.

Through these discussions I can confirm that an error was identified in the ACT results reported in the national assessment of urban tree cover. This has arisen due to the characteristics of the ACT, which differs from other Local Government Areas in Australia. This means that reported land-cover average results for the ACT are incorrect, as there was no calculation step in the workflow to allow for the different areas of the sub-regions, an issue not present in any of the other 130 LGAs covered.

The RMIT researchers are confident that this is an isolated error, affecting the ACT data only and have now recalculated the ACT-wide results published in the report.

The recalculated results indicate that the combined tree and shrub coverage in the ACT in 2013 was 61.7 per cent, declining to 50.1 per cent in 2016 and increasing again to 67.4 per cent in 2020. Canberra and Hobart are the only capital cities that had more vegetation in 2020 than in 2013.

Accordingly the ACF and Monash University have updated their report, “Temperature check: Greening Australia's warming cities” which is available at the following link:

While it is encouraging to see the tree and shrub cover increase, the methodology used by RMIT for this study may not be appropriate for large Local Government Areas or where there are large non-urban areas such as we have in the ACT.

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