Greening project to provide ReLeaf for residents native wildlife

Published on 03 August 2022

Robyn Charlton at the Blackalls Park Fassifern St tree planting site.jpg

The green shoots are sprouting on a project aimed at growing Lake Mac’s urban tree canopy, providing habitat for native wildlife and reducing summertime heat in the process.

Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance volunteers, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser and Hunter MP Dan Repacholi converged on Blackalls Park on Sunday to help replant a pocket reserve off Fassifern Street.

Semi-mature eucalypts, native shrubs and ground-cover species were planted throughout the site – a scene organisers hope to repeat across the city as the ReLeaf Lake Mac project rolls out.

Cr Fraser said Council’s Urban Heat Strategy and separate Urban Greening Strategy emphasised the importance of increasing tree cover in suburban areas.

“Taking local, practical and coordinated measures to address urban heat and increase our tree canopy will make Lake Mac a cooler, more liveable and more resilient place for everyone,” she said.

Five Bays Sustainable Neighbourhood Group Chair and environmental scientist Robyn Charlton said that while sites such as the Blackalls Park reserve perhaps appeared insignificant in isolation, combine with others across the city they could make a big difference.

“We need more trees in our city,” she said.

“This is going to make a difference. It reduces noise, it’s a pollution barrier, it provides morning shade for residents across the road and it builds our native wildlife corridors.”

Ms Charlton said the some of the eucalypts planted on the weekend would take years to mature and develop a substantial canopy, but there was no overnight fix.

“This is really for future generations – that’s what it’s all about,” she said.

“We’re hoping it’s the first of many.”

ReLeaf Lake Mac is an initiative of the Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance, a non-profit group supported by Council, but also independent of it.

Council’s Urban Greening Strategy aims to increase tree canopy cover by 10 per cent by 2030 in suburbs vulnerable to urban heat, and sets a long-term target of 30 per cent tree canopy cover in all residential zones.