Canberra’s tree canopy continues to grow


New data highlights important progress made under Canberra’s Urban Forest Strategy, as the city’s tree canopy continues to grow towards our ambitious target of 30 per cent coverage by 2045. 

“Updated Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) analysis has allowed us to more accurately estimate current tree canopy coverage and provides us with a better picture of our living infrastructure in Canberra,” said Minister for Environment Rebecca Vassarotti.

“The new LiDAR data shows differences in canopy cover across our city and which suburbs are more at risk from urban heat island effect and climate change.

“Canberra’s total canopy cover in 2020 was estimated to be 22.5 per cent of Canberra’s urban footprint, which we can now use as the baseline to track further progress towards our canopy target of 30 per cent by 2045”

Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel said that with more than 9,000 new trees planted across the ACT in 2021, and 54,000 new tree plantings funded to 2023-24 the ACT Government was make a significant contribution to reaching the target.

 “The updated LiDAR data will inform where we plant 54,000 additional trees funded in the Budget, which is Canberra’s largest tree planting effort since self-government,” said Minister Steel.  

“Our strategy is to focus on planting trees in areas of greater vulnerability, where canopy cover is lower and in areas where existing trees are ageing and dying.

“Significant new plantings on public land, together with upcoming reforms to encourage canopy cover on private land, will put us on track to meet our target of 30 per cent canopy cover across the ACT.”

The data indicates that older suburbs in Central Canberra and Woden Valley have well established tree canopy cover at 28.2% and 30.64%, whereas the newer suburbs of Gungahlin (14.3%) and the Molonglo Valley (8.62%) have substantially less. 

However, the older parts of Canberra also have a high proportion of ageing trees which will begin to reach end of life in coming years requiring replanting. 

"Just in the coming months we will be planting 700 new trees along the John Gorton Drive corridor in the Molonglo Valley, including a variety of exotic and native species from  Zelkova, Pistachios and through to Sycamores and Eucalypts," said Minister Steel. 

“We have also been consulting with the community in Bonner and based on their feedback will plant 30 Crepe Myrtles in the swale on Mabo Boulevard in November, which will grow up to 5 meters and improve the streetscape for residents.”  

The ACT Government has also stepped up support for community-based planting initiatives with more than 50 registered community groups participating in land care and tree planting activities. This effort will continue to be supported with three more years of Adopt-a-Park grants supporting more neighbourhood micro-forest projects.

“We understand the importance of partnering with the community to grow and maintain Canberra’s tree canopy cover. That’s why we’ve invested in more community planting and Landcare groups,” said Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti. 

 “Canberra’s trees are among our city’s most precious community assets. They contribute to cooling our suburbs, cleaning our air, improving the liveability of our streets, providing habitat for local wildlife and enhancing community wellbeing.”

The new data on tree planting activity and canopy coverage has been prepared as part of the Government’s implementation plan for the Urban Forest Strategy. 

For a copy of the report visit: Report to the Legislative Assembly of the ACT - Urban Tree Canopy Coverage

To request a tree planting visit: Trees in the ACT | YourSay ACT