City of Ballarat is prioritising Wendouree for tree planting as part of its plan to increase tree coverage to 40 per cent in Ballarat.
The City of Ballarat Parks and Gardens team has begun work this week to plant 400 trees along main roads in Wendouree and Wendouree West, starting with Gillies Street from the freeway entrance.
The planting comes after council adopted its Urban Forest Action Plan in March that outlined a goal to more than double tree existing canopy cover in Ballarat by 2040.
Wendouree, Sebastopol, Delacombe and parts of Ballarat North and Ballarat East were identified through the Cool It Project as areas of social vulnerability to heat which is directed related to low urban tree canopy cover.
Data shows Ballarat's trees have the capacity to cool surface temperatures on streets by up to 20 degrees, according to the action plan.
City of Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said in a written statement Wendouree was chosen as a priority area for planting as the suburb has a rate of six per cent tree coverage, much lower than the Ballarat rate of canopy cover of 17 per cent.
"We know that greater levels of urban forest, which includes street trees and planting parks reserves and private property, has a range of benefits for residents, including air quality improvement and reduction in energy costs," she said.
The trees are funded through the City of Ballarat's ongoing tree planting program, with an additional $500,000 allocated in the 2019/20 budget approved by council this week.
Many residents have raised concerns at the lack of trees planted in the city's developing suburbs like Lucas and Bonshaw.
The Courier asked City of Ballarat if planning requirements were in place to ensure adequate tree coverage in new property development areas.
In response, City of Ballarat Director of Infrastructure and Environment Terry Demeo said in a written statement council continued to strengthen planning controls to ensure the community is getting the right trees, in the right areas.
"We continue to review processes in order to seek better urban forest outcomes," he said.
"As an example, the recently adopted Ballarat East Local Area Plan introduces for the first time specific requirements around providing for large canopy trees in new developments, which will have a very positive environmental impact and influence better design outcomes in keeping with the area's local character and identity.
"There remain challenges with the competition for space between underground services (eg water, NBN, gas, electricity) and the space required for street trees."
City of Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates said developers and council had a role to play, but the impact of household tree planting should not be underestimated.
"We have had a lot of interest from local environment groups around encouraging indigenous plants in households," she said.
"There is room for more community education and encouraging households around tree planting and the right types of trees as well."
It is expected the planting of 400 trees in Wendouree will be completed in October. The trees will be a mix of native and exotic trees.
Mr Demeo said the next step from the Urban Forest Action Plan will be consultation around specific neighbourhoods to ensure clear ownership associated with the tree planting.
Residents can visit ballarat.vic.gov.au/city/parks-and-outdoors/indigenous-plants for more information on Indigenous plants.