A REPORT just in says Melville council over-estimated its tree canopy in 2016, just as it adopted an Urban Forest Strategy, and the situation is a bit more dire than at first believed.
The new findings were based on a “multi-spectral aerial flyover” of the city earlier this year by consultants Arbor Carbon, which found the 12.5 per cent canopy cover was almost half what was estimated in 2016.
It also shows that despite adopting the urban forest strategy, the city has continued to lose its trees, with the cover dropping by 1.4 per cent in the intervening years.
The review was partly prompted by other agencies who kept coming up with something closer to 14 per cent.
“Inaccurate data interpretation associated with the 2016 result was mainly due to misclassification of vegetation cover,” a report the Herald understands was presented to an in-house meeting of councillors in the last week.
The Chook covered a bit of the argy-bargy over the 2016 results, as the finding of consultants McMullen Nolan Group of at least 40 per cent coverage was at odds with estimates from the CSIRO.
MNG argued the CSIRO had a “two-dimensional approach” because it only measured trees over three metres tall, while its own assessment roped in shrubs and grass.
The new report says the city has lost 83.5 hectares of canopy cover between 2016-22.
The council itself has added 23.6 hectares, but it can’t keep pace with developers and private owners who’ve hacked away 107 hectares.
Alfred Cove, Mount Pleasant, Applecross, Melville, Bateman and Leeming suffered the worst drops, with the latter no doubt affected by clearing as Roe Highway was connected to the Kwinana Freeway.
Alfred Cove lost three hectares of canopy cover, but that equated to a reduction of 23.1 per cent across the suburb, while Mount Pleasant’s 9.4 hectare loss was 22.2 per cent.
The city had identified 1700 sites on verges to plant trees, but after consultation 700 were ruled out over owner objections.
A further 250 also got the chop once owners noticed the markings on the verge, but they were relocated into parks.
Even after that, warnings about climate change and hot suburbs apparently hadn’t sunk in for a few: “Numerous calls to manager requesting tree be removed once planted,” the report noted.