2011 Tree Species Selection Strategy for the City of Melbourne
Prepared on behalf of City of Melbourne by Aspect Studios and Tree Logic.
Executive Summay 4
How to Use this Document 5
Chapter 1 – Introduction 6
1.1 Overview 7
Objectives of the Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines 7
Values of Diversity 7
History of Species Diversity 8
Measures of Diversity 9
Species Diversity 9
Genus Diversity 9
Family Diversity 9
Useful Life Expectancy Of Melbourne’s Trees 10
Useful Life Expectancy Of Melbourne’s Elms 10
Key Outcomes from this Report 11
1.2 Project process 12
The Development of the Urban Forest Diversity
Guidelines to Date 12
1.3 Status of document 13
A ‘live’ document 13
Formal review 13
1.4 Overview of Urban Forest Diversity Issues
within the City of Melbourne 14
Species Diversity 14
Age Diversity 14
Size Matters 14
Planting Sites 15
Genetic Diversity and the Use of Cultivars 15
Climate Change 15
Native and Exotic Species 16
Vulnerability to Pathogens and Pests 16
Tree Maintenance 18
Tree Litter 19
Containerisation and Tree Vaults 19
Character, Community Values and Urban Design 20
Strategies and Technologies for Improving Tree Growth 20
Formal Street Tree Trials 21
Chapter 2 – Tree Species
Selection Criteria 22
2.1 There is No Perfect Tree 23
2.2 Overview of Selection Criteria 26
The Base Criteria Affecting Adaptability to
Urban Conditions 26
Location Types 26
Non-rated Criteria 26
Park Trees 26
2.3 The Ten Base Criteria Affecting Adaptability to
Urban Conditions 27
Drought Tolerance 27
Heat Tolerance 27
Wind Tolerance 28
Pollution Tolerance 28
Pathogen and Pest Susceptibility and Manageability 29
Potential as Allergen 29
Shade Cast 29
Maintenance Required 29
Tree litter 30
2.4 Additional Criteria 31
Shade Tolerance 31
Power Lines 31
Soil Compaction Tolerance 31
Waterlogged Soil Tolerance 31
Prunability for Vehicle Clearance 31
Small, Medium and Large Planting Sites 32
Chapter 3 – Tree Planting in Melbourne 33
3.1 Introduction 34
Central Activity District (CAD), Mixed Use,
and Commercial Streets 35
Residential Streets 36
Park Types 37
Chapter 4 – Choosing the Right Tree 38
4.1 Introduction 39
4.2 Determining Location Type 40
4.3 Location Types and Tree Selection Lists 44
Location Type 1 – CAD Wide Footpath 44
Location Type 2 – CAD Narrow Footpath 46
Location Type 3 – CAD Laneway 48
Location Type 4 –
CAD Wide Median With Carparking 50
Location Type 5 –
CAD Wide Median With No Carparking 52
Location Type 6 – CAD Narrow Median 54
Location Type 7 – Park 56
Location Type 8 –
Park Edge or Boulevard Median, With Trams 58
Location Type 9 –
Park Edge or Boulevard Median, With No Trams 60
Location Type 10 – Residential Parking Lane 62
Location Type 11 –
Residential Broad Verge With Powerlines 64
Location Type 12 –
Residential Broad Verge With No Powerlines 66
Location Type 13 –
Residential Narrow Verge With Powerlines 68
Location Type 14 –
Residential Narrow Verge With No Powerlines 70
Location Type 15 – Residential Wide Median 72
Location Type 16 – Residential Narrow Median 74
Appendix 1: References 77
Appendix 2: The Tree Selection Matrix
as Interactive Tool 78
Appendix 3: Location Typology –
Additional Location Types 87
Appendix 4: Adaptability and Vigour 95
Appendix 5: Limitations, Qualitative Judgments and Research Data 96
Appendix 6: Crown Projection Method 97
Appendix 7: Master Lists of All Street Trees,
Park Trees and Trial Trees 98
The Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines is a subsidiary document to the City of Melbourne Urban Forest Strategy. The guidelines are intended to inform the Tree Precinct Plans that in turn will determine locations for street tree plantings. Park trees will be planted using existing Masterplans and site specific plans.
The urban forest is a significant asset for the City of Melbourne and to protect that asset it is necessary to diversify its content. Urban forest diversity will make a more resilient and robust forest, help protect the forest as a whole from pests and pathogens, streamline maintenance programs, and even out annual budgetary requirements.
Without diversity, the urban forest is at greater risk from extreme events such as drought and climate change, and from the urban heat island effect.
The urban Forest Diversity Guidelines recommend that by 2040 no more than 5 percent of the forest is to be of any single species, no more than 10 percent is to be of any one genus, and no more than 20 percent is to be of any one Family.
The current profile of the urban forest contains an overproportion of the Family Myrtaceae, as well as the genus Eucalyptus. Regular annual tree planting to 2040 is proposed to reduce this predominance, and to create a forest with greater age spread.
This document also recommends a full review of the City’s Elm and Plane Tree populations, to determine best locations to grow these species.
The Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines provide a non-subjective, scientifically based set of criteria for establishing what tree species are suitable for the urban conditions found in the City of Melbourne.
The Master List of Street and Park Trees provides a broad selection of trees that can meet all of the needs of the City in terms of adaptability, heritage and character.
Trees that are suitable for one location may not be suitable to another location. In order to find the right tree for the right place, a typology of street and park tree locations has been developed, with each Location Type accompanied by minimum criteria necessary for successful tree growth in that location.
By crossreferencing The Master List of Street and Park Trees with the Location Types, a set of tree lists for the diverse locations across the City of Melbourne has been established.
These Location Type Tree Lists can be further refined according to additional criteria such as neighbourhood character, heritage, and degree of shade, and it is such site specificity that will be investigated in the Precinct Street Tree Master Plans.
The Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines are considered a live document, for regular review, and capable of being updated as new knowledge and understanding of the City’s requirements develops.
How to use this document
The information in this document is structured to facilitate clear decision making for street tree selection.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
The introduction outlines the relationship between the Urban Forest Strategy and the Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines.
It also summarises some of the key issues facing the growth of trees in Melbourne both today and in the future.
Chapter 2 – Tree Species Selection Criteria
This chapter outlines the selection criteria that have been chosen to identify which tree species are most suitable for the City of Melbourne’s diverse types of streets and parks.
Chapter 3 – Tree Planting in Melbourne
This chapter identifies the typical tree growing conditions across the types of street and park environment in Melbourne, with a focus on street trees and streetscapes.
Chapter 4 – Choosing the Right Tree
This chapter identifies the process for selecting the most appropriate tree species for a particular location.
This chapter outlines the relationship between the Urban Forest Strategy and the Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines. It also summarises some of the key issues facing the growth of trees in Melbourne both today and in the future.
The City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy sets out the blueprint for achieving our vision of a resilient, healthy and diverse urban forest that will contribute to the health and wellbeing of our community and to the creation of a liveable city. A series of challenges currently faces our urban forest, and the City of Melbourne must now manage and transform our urban forest in a holistic and multidisciplinary manner in order to achieve our vision. The challenges we face include the fact that many boulevard and specimen trees are reaching the end of their natural life. Coupled with the effects of drought, increasing intensity of heat during summer, and water restrictions, this decline has been accelerated and in many cases is irreversible. The opportunity now exists to transform our public and private urban forest into a healthy, diverse, resilient and well designed forest that will enable our City to adapt to a changing climate, mitigate urban heat island effects and provide protection and wellbeing to the community.
The work that this opportunity provides will be guided by 6 principles developed to ensure all future work contributes to achieving our vision. These are:
Adapt to climate change.
Mitigate urban heat island effects.
Create a water sensitive city.
Create healthy ecosystems.
Design our urban landscapes for community health, wellbeing and liveability.
Position Melbourne as a leader in urban forestry.
As part of this process, a need has been identified to produce a scientifically based suite of tree species lists that highlight suitable tree species to suit various Location Types in Melbourne. This document will form the basis for ensuring diversity within our urban forest: diversity in species, age and growth rates. The scientifically based approach will ensure that overall tree selection is fit for purpose, within the context of individual sites and also of the municipality as a whole. Building the urban forest as a living ecosystem will rely on smart species selection to deal with issues such as improving biodiversity, improving soil moisture retention, reducing stormwater flows, increasing shade and canopy cover, reducing infrastructure conflicts and ensuring our urban forest provides the maximum benefits for our communities. This work will further inform species selection within all future park masterplans, precinct plans and capital works and renewal programs.
Objectives of the Urban Forest Diversity Guidelines
Ensure urban forest diversification in age, species and health across the municipality.
Provide scientifically based criteria for selecting tree species in urban Melbourne.
Mitigate risk of pest and disease attacks.
Develop a typology of City of Melbourne street and park locations and allocate relevant species for each Location Type.
Ensure that nominated species are likely to survive and succeed in the face of predicted climate change.
To mitigate the risk of economic loss, financial advisors recommend asset diversification. The same principle applies for an environmental asset such as an urban forest. The greater the diversification within a forest, the lower the risk of losing the entire forest in one event, such as a pest and disease attack or an extreme heat event. By diversification we mean a variety of:
Ages of trees.
Growth rates of trees.
By ensuring that these types of diversity are fostered in our urban forest, we are able to reduce overall vulnerability of our tree population
History of Species Diversity
Adapted from Carver (1989), Spencer (1986), and Yau (1982).
After the initial settlement of Melbourne, when indigenous bushland was cleared to make way for a burgeoning township, trees were given little priority. In the early days they were seen as a resource to be utilised and little emphasis was given to the beautification of the town.
By the 1850s, Blue Gums were the main planting along the Yarra and St Kilda Rd due to their quick growing nature and their ability to withstand the extremes of Melbourne’s cool wet winters and hot dry summers. Avenues of Silky Oak, Grevillea robusta, were also planted between the Botanic Gardens and Princes Bridge. Plane trees, American Ash and Pinus radiata were all trialled throughout this period as avenues, proving themselves to be hardy specimens for the Melbourne landscape. Conifers also played a large role in forming the larger Victorian landscape around this time, with over 355,000 plants being custom grown at the Botanic Gardens for distribution to Governmental public reserves, schools, cemeteries, and churches throughout the state. Peppercorns were also favoured due to their lush foliage and heritage values.
Interestingly, by the 1870s, through Baron Von Mueller’s influence, the gentleman of society – including Municipal Mayors – fully recognised the benefits of street tree plantings in the city and in principal towns. Many of Melbourne’s reserves and parks were laid out at this time and many still reflect the preference for Conifers. By the 1880s however, Pines and Blue Gums had lost their popularity and replacement with other species had begun. Blue Gums in Victoria Parade were ringbarked by a local gardener, and many considered both Pines and Blue Gums too gloomy and dense. The Peppercorns also fell out of favour due, their large weeping habit considered inappropriate for successful street trees. The nature of deciduous trees’ shading during summer and allowing sunlight in winter was a new way of thinking in urban streetscape design to allow for the comfort of people. This was the beginning of the planting of Elms as shade trees.
By the early twentieth century, Planes, Elms, Oaks, Poplars, Lagunarias, Chestnuts and Phoenix canariensis were prescribed for the boulevards, streets and parks of Melbourne. For the drier areas north of Melbourne, Kurrajongs, Silky Oaks, Moreton Bay Figs, She-oaks and Golden Wattles were recommended. This period shows a much more diverse range of trees used in the more cultivated areas and highlights the thought that was given to trees environmental benefits and their abilities to withstand the Melbourne climate.
The rapid expansion of Melbourne’s suburbs after the First and Second World Wars saw bushland retreat and small scale trees being planted along the streets. Trees such as the Red Flowering Gum, Pittosporum, Lophostemon confertus and Prunus were popular, gracing newer suburbs. Particularly after the Second World War, natives had a resurgence in popularity with more Eucalypts, Melaleucas and Callistemons being introduced into Melbourne as street trees. Plane trees were particularly favoured for the ability to withstand harsh urban conditions such as air pollution and poor soil conditions. Planes replaced the St Kilda Poplars during the 1960s. During the 1980s, there was another wave of indigenous tree species selection and they were encouraged as plantings to promote native ecosystems and attract wildlife. Such trees included Eucalyptus maculata, E. nicholii, E. leucoxylon, E. sideroxylon and E. citriodora.
Melbourne’s climate, hydrology patterns and soil types provide the opportunity for many species of trees, both native and exotic, to grow well. The many types of space within our urban fabric further provide opportunity for various species such as park specimens, smaller fastigiates for narrow laneways and streets, large shade trees for medians, specimens for boulevards and natives for our indigenous landscapes. Compared to the northern hemisphere our history of species diversity amongst our urban forest appears to be relatively short, however various articles certainly highlight the changes in cultural trends, succession of tree species trials, and the recognition of the importance of diversity.
Given the immense value of Melbourne’s existing tree population, and the potential vulnerability to the future challenges such as climate change and the urban heat island effect, working towards greater species diversity is a high priority.
Measures of Diversity
In Melbourne’s existing stock of trees, Elms and Planes each represent 10% of our total tree population. Frequently cited, though not scientifically based, rules of thumb in the United States suggest:
Plant no more than 30% of a family.
Plant no more than 20% of a genus.
Plant no more than 10% of a species.
These rules predate the rise of concern about impacts of climate change, which is likely to increase the risk of planting urban monocultures. They also omit any consideration given to the use of cultivars and clones. Clones are genetically identical to their mother stock and therefore further increase the risks associated with planting monocultures.
The rules above are therefore best seen as conservative guides only within the City of Melbourne context. The emphasis should be on a diversity greater than that suggested by these rules.
Given the immense value of Melbourne’s existing tree population, and its potential vulnerability to such future challenges as climate change and the urban heat island effect, working towards greater species diversity is a high priority.
Having a large representation of any one particular family leaves Melbourne’s urban forest vulnerable to pest and disease outbreaks that are family specific. The Myrtaceae family accounts for forty three per cent of Melbourne’s tree base, a proportion which could potentially be devastated if plant pathogens targeting this family, such as Myrtle rust, take hold.
There is a noted high percentage of the genus Eucalyptus and the Family Myrtaceae within our tree population. This is due in part to the fact that many different species make up this genus and Family, many of which are native to Victoria and also to the fact that these species have proven successful as urban trees. It should be noted that Royal Park, Melbourne’s largest park at 170 hectares and maintained primarily as native bushland, houses many of these Eucalypts and Myrtaceae Family, including a large proportion of our 5,400 Eucalyptus camaldulensis. Whilst we note the level of vulnerability amongst the tree population due to these high percentages of one genus and one Family, they form very important indigenous landscapes within our municipality that are healthy, robust and iconic for Melbourne.
Useful Life Expectancy is a year bracket attributed to each tree for which we expect that tree to remain as a healthy robust specimen in the landscape. During the assessment, the age of the tree, and its health, form and growth patterns, are taken into account to determine its life expectancy. From this analysis we can derive that approximately thirty percent of Melbourne’s tree population will not survive in the landscape for another 10 years and forty eight percent will not last 20 years.