Tree cover saves lives and money, not in a roundabout way
Words by Sue Dyet, Secretary, Eltham Community Action Group.
The guest speaker at this year’s Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) Annual General Meeting, Dr Greg Moore OAM, is chair of the National Trust’s Register for Significant Trees committee. Greg’s presentation was from the School of Ecosystems & Forest Sciences – Burnley College, University of Melbourne, where he was Principal 1988-2007.
His data and analysis demonstrates that the practices of Governments, their instrumentalities and organisations (such electricity companies) need reform. They fail to account for social and economic benefits of tree canopy cover in reducing the costs of health resources and infrastructure maintenance.
Canopy cover across parts of greater Melbourne is declining at 1% – 1.5% annually. Councils approve 95% of tree removal requests. Generally trees are not mentioned on planning overlays. Councils are hamstrung by State regulations that appear to favour developers. This means developers usually win when taken to VCAT.
Canopy cover on properties and along streets reduces sickness and deaths from heat waves, skin cancers and as a consequence public health costs. It reduces air conditioning costs, lengthens the life of bitumen and lessens building damage from high winds.
Treed open space meets human physical, social and mental health needs.
Newer technologies make it cheaper to put power lines underground than continually chop back tree growth. And of course the right trees absorb carbon and bush fire particulates.
These issues are progressively amplified by climate change.