Trees are an invaluable asset that benefit and belong to all. In Canberra there has been a perception of a lack of transparency regarding management of the urban forest. There are also divided opinions around the current and future management of NCA trees, as well as ACT Government trees. The broad array of community expectations, values and needs around the urban forest further defines the need for transparency of information, clear and agreed pathways of decision making and a shared, inclusive vision for the future forest.
There are some good examples across Australia showcasing how engagement and communications can be tailored to provide transparent access to information raising community understanding and acceptance of the way in which the trees are managed. Mechanisms such as citizen forestry, on-line maps, visual communications, engaging programs and activities all support greater community understanding and participation.
It is timely to be having a discussion about the future of the NCA’s urban forest and the community’s role within that. The NCA’s leadership in developing a Tree Management Policy that articulates the current issues relating to the trees, explores solutions of excellence and sets a shared vision for the future is a positive step towards consistent, transparent and publicly available information for the benefit of the community.