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Kelly Hertzog

Urban Forest and Ecology

ARB Stream

Monday 8th April | 2:15pm


A decade of urban forestry in Melbourne: what’s working, what’s not and how we can fix it


Kelly leads the Urban Forest and Ecology team at the City of Melbourne. The team is responsible for delivery of the Urban Forest Strategy and Nature in the City Strategy, working to double tree canopy cover, cool the city and create thriving urban ecosystems. With a background in Social Science, Kelly is passionate about fostering connections between people and nature.


The City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy was endorsed in 2012, and sets ambitious targets over 20 years, including doubling tree canopy cover and creating a diverse and healthy urban forest. But what makes an urban forest strategy successful, and how can you tell if it’s working? This presentation will reflect on ten years of urban forestry in Melbourne, sharing stories of success and unpacking challenges that will need to be overcome to reach our 2040 targets.

Some things are working well. Our engaged and empowered community have driven urban forest investment over a number of election cycles, keeping tree planting and protection high on Council’s agenda. Collaboration with industry and academia has informed decision making, and partnerships have driven innovation. Integration of Urban Ecology as core Council business has fostered more holistic management of the urban forest to maximise outcomes for people and wildlife. Tree species diversity targets have largely been achieved, and more nuanced application of these targets is allowing for protection of locally significant species.

But there are challenges impeding our progress toward 2040 targets.

The quality of data and analysis has improved massively in ten years, so we know more about our urban forest than ever before. Regular monitoring tells us where and how much our urban forest is growing, but also where we are losing trees and how this is affecting overall canopy growth. We know that canopy cover is not increasing at the predicted rate, but what’s behind this and can we shift the curve?

Almost one third of all streetscapes identified for priority greening have not been able to be planted, due to a range of complicating factors like service conflicts, resident opposition or competing priorities for the allocation of city space. And despite planting more than 3000 trees each year, tree planting and canopy growth is not distributed equitably across the city. How can we make sure that greening is directed to areas where people need it most?

This presentation will share some of the focus areas as we move in to the second half of the strategy, including strategies for maximising tree canopy growth and minimising loss of tree canopy cover; engaging with more diverse communities and Traditional Owners; and predicting tree canopy growth and decline.

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