Resilience & vulnerability of the NCA's urban forest

What are the issues?

While the population of trees managed by the NCA are healthy, have relatively long growing lives and are well managed, there are a range of vulnerabilities within the population that make it less resilient. These vulnerabilities arise from current and future impacts, which revolve predominantly around the changing climate but also increasing competition for space.

The question of vulnerability and therefore resilience towards these challenges is bounded by current research around a number of important factors, namely vegetation diversity, species selection and integrated design and management solutions.

Integrated design and management is a holistic way to consider the landscape, the growing conditions and improvements that could be made to a site to ensure long term tree viability and health. Access to adequate soil moisture, minimisation of compaction, access to nutrients, space for tree canopy and root systems are all components of integrated design and management, and need to be embedded into existing management programs.

Roman Cypress Hill, Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum, 2018
Informal track, Federation Mall, Parkes, 2018

What does best practice look like?

  1. Climate ready palette of species that meet a broad range of functions such as heritage values, shade, landscape amenity and character, biodiversity
  2. Integrated pest and disease management
  3. Integrated Water Management planning
  4. Water sensitive urban design
  5. Structural cells and soils in areas of high activity and compaction
  6. Urban tree management excellence and soil health considerations.
The Australian Hellenic Memorial at Anzac Parade, 2016
Works on Constitution Avenue, Parkes, 2017

How could these issues be addressed?

  1. Collaborate with researchers already conducting work on climate ready species for Canberra and further trials

  2. Review the current species list and adapt as needed to reflect current research

  3. Identify and categorise the probability of future risks on NCA’s landscapes and trees that compromise their resilience

  4. Develop typologies and scenarios for locations where water sensitive urban design is appropriate and can be implemented

  5. Consider appropriate water sources and corresponding investment required to drought proof NCA’s landscapes

  6. Recognise and apply the role of trees in Climate Change Adaption actions

  7. Continue to experiment with integrated landscape management techniques, document successes and failures and provide feedback loops into programs

  8. Establish clear principles regarding best practice urban tree management, particularly establishment, monitoring (for pest and climate impacts), renewal and replacement, integrated design

  9. Improve soil health and tree growing conditions across NCA land to improve the resilience and longevity of the treescape.

Tree planting, Constitution Avenue, Parkes, 2014
Lake Burley Griffin and Black Mountain, 2019
Design, development and land use planning
Heritage and culture

National Capital Authority