The search to incentivise the establishment and retention of trees on private land continues

The nine-month ‘Global review of incentive schemes for the retention and successful establishment of trees on private urban land’(NY18002) project is approaching its conclusion, with the final report set to be delivered in December this year.

This levy funded project aims to clarify which mechanisms may be suitable, and effective, for Australian local councils to consider in terms of establishing and retaining more trees on private land.

Commencing in May 2019, the project team from the University of Melbourne and RMIT University has completed an intensive literature review and led two international roundtable discussions at the ‘Nature of Climate Summit’ conference in Paris, France and the ‘European Forum on Urban Forests’ held in Cologne, Germany.

Attendees at these roundtables shared their experiences and key initiatives from cities across the globe, presenting strong case studies for evaluating incentives.

Over the past few months, the project team has continued purposefully collecting data on these various case studies, as well as interviewing dozens of individuals with experience on these types of mechanisms. The objective was to critically investigate what progressive things cities are doing to better retain and establish trees.

The project team has analysed 81 case studies across the world, finding that cities remain focused on the management of trees on public land rather than on private land. Most cities also use mechanisms that have been traditionally used since the 1970s to protect trees, such as planting new trees in private areas with public money through seed giveaways, or protecting trees through local tree protection laws (also called ordinances or bylaws, depending on context) and establishing significant tree registries, usually via the nomination of a private resident.

Many cities around the world have initiatives in place aimed at retaining trees on private land. A vast majority of these, however, use legal ramifications as a key motivator, instead of incentives for establishment and retention.

Some of the more proactive cities, particularly in the United States are encouraging greater green developments through incentives. Though these initiatives are focussed on establishing trees on private land, the experiences and key motivators of city councils and departments to implement these initiatives could have transferrable insights to promoting the establishment and retention of trees on private land.

Key examples of these types of programs in the U.S are: Urban Greening Factor Formula, Seattle; TreeBate in Portland; and Green Area Ratio in Washington DC.

They’ve found that building support and empowering residents, businesses and communities, has been central to the success of many of these initiatives.

For the remainder of the project, the project team will focus on uncovering unique initiatives that concentrate on tree retention, and those that encourage establishment and retention on private land.

In the final phase of this project, the team will circulate a draft of the final report to a key reference group for insights and feedback. Through this, they hope to further cement findings and gain more information that isn’t in the public sphere.

Keep an eye out for more project updates, key insights, and how Australian local councils can use this information to encourage increased establishment and retention of trees on private land. To increase urban greening projects, it’s imperative that local communities and its members are empowered and incentivised to protect and be proactive when it comes to green space.

To learn more on the first phase of the project, click here.

The ‘Global review of incentive schemes for the retention and successful establishment of trees on private urban land’ (NY18002) project is funded by Hort Innovation using nursery industry levy and funds from the Australian Government.

For more information, please contact Stephen Livesley, University of Melbourne at sjlive@unimelb.edu.au or 0439 615 772 OR Camilo Ordonez, 0437 639 749, camilo.ordonez@unimelb.edu.au