What is an urban forest and why do we need one?

An urban forest is broadly defined as all trees and vegetation within an urban area and the soil and water that supports them. An urban forest incorporates trees in urban areas such as parks, streets, verges, gardens, plazas, river embankments, wetlands, railway corridors, community gardens, green walls, balconies and roofs.

These trees and vegetation contribute to a number of community wellbeing, economic and environmental benefits.

The urban forest refers to all trees and vegetation within the City of Fremantle local government area, including the soil and water that supports it.


Canopy cover refers to the percentage of area covered by tree crowns when assessed from above. 

Why the target of 20% tree canopy coverage?

Currently the City of Fremantle has 13% tree canopy cover but we aim to achieve 20% cover over time.  The Urban Forest Plan provides a structured planting regime with priority areas over 10 years to achieve this objective as well as provide information on the benefits of trees, thermal heat mapping and staging plan.

The 20% canopy target is for two reasons:

1. to achieve similar canopy cover to our better performing neighbouring local governments such as Melville (19%) East Fremantle (19%) and Mosman Park (20%)

and

2. as a partner council of Vision 202020 to correlate with the open space goals.


How does the Urban Forest Plan relate to the Greening Fremantle Strategy 2020?

The Fremantle2029 Community Visioning informed the development of the City’s Greening Fremantle Strategy 2020 to provide a high level strategy with background, rationale and framework to deliver ‘greening’ projects and programs.

The Urban Forest Plan was a key project identified in the strategy to work towards progressively increasing the tree canopy across the City from 13% to 20%.

The Urban Forest Plan is the detailed tree-planting plan, based on further analysis of the city’s tree canopy, landform, soil type, thermal heat mapping and population demographics.  The Urban Forest Plan is a document that will assist the city in:

  • maintaining and enhancing green spaces

  • increase and improve biodiversity

  • increase and improve water efficiency

  • encourage the greening of private property

  • manage and guide tree and vegetation populations across the public areas

  • increase canopy cover to mitigate the urban heat island effect.


How can I contribute to Fremantle's Urban Forest?

The Urban Forest Plan focuses on trees in public areas, but the urban forest is the sum of trees across all land holdings – public and private.  There are lots of actions you can take to maintain or improve Fremantle's Urban Forest:

Care for your trees! 

If you have trees in your garden keep an eye on them to make sure they stay healthy.  Search the web for information, ask your garden centre/nursery or talk to a professional such as an Arborist. Aim to retain mature trees on your property.


Plant a new tree! 

Be careful when selecting a species and location when you plant. Some things to consider: 

  • Lifestyle - What kind of tree can you manage? Will it frequently drop leaves and sticks that you will need to clean up?
  • Climate - What plants will grow well in your garden? Do some research to check your climatic growing zone. This information can be found on the internet or in most good gardening books.
  • Soil Type - What is your soil type? It is essential to check your soil type if you want to choose the right plants. Adding mulch or other organic composts will improve the nutrient levels of all soil types.
  • Sun/Shade - How much sunlight does your garden get? Also take into account shading things like solar panels.
  • Water - How much water is available in your area? How much rainfall do you receive in the wet season? Some plants need a lot of water to thrive while others can survive dry periods once established. Always consider the environment when selecting your plants.
  • Choosing trees - What tree is best for your chosen location? There are some important points to consider before deciding what trees to plant. Consider the following: What mature size tree will be suitable for your garden? Do you want the tree to provide shade? Should it be deciduous to allow winter sun into the garden? Will the leaf litter be a problem in winter? Should it be evergreen to provide shelter or screening? What kind of root structure does the tree have? Will the roots affect paving, foundations, pipes and drains?

The Urban Forest Plan has a list of tree species suitable for each planting area in the city. WA native species can connect remnant bushland, provide habitat for native fauna, require less water long term, and are suited to the local soil profile.  Non-native species are also a valuable part of the Urban Forest. Species with large canopies and broad leaves can be more effective in urban cooling. Studies comparing a London Plane, European Elm and River Gum showed conditions were significantly hotter under the River Gum due to differences in its canopy. Some exotic tree species also provide habitat and forage for Carnaby's Cockatoos.  Increasing the number of species also makes the Urban Forest more resilient. Mixing native and non-native can also assist in mitigating disease spread and environmental pests. 


Get involved - help us plant a tree!

The City undertakes annual street verge and park tree planting.  Fremantle residents can apply to have a free street tree planted on their verge at no cost to the property owner.  Once an application for street tree has been received by our parks and landscape team, they will undertake inspections which will include your verge during the following April and May and then talk to you about what is most suitable for your verge.  Planting will only occur between April and July each year to ensure your tree will survive.

  • To lodge your request complete the e-services (Parks & Landscape) request online.
  • Join in a local planting day. For information on future planting events, visit our What's On events calendar or contact the Parks and Landscape team on 08 9432 9999 or email PARKSANDLANDSCAPE@fremantle.wa.gov.au
  • Visit our community groups page if you are interested in getting involved in your local area.

  • What is the City of Fremantle doing to contribute to the Urban Forest Plan?

    The City undertook a tree canopy survey in 2015 to establish baseline data of the various urban forest features within the city – to inform the Greening Fremantle Strategy 2020 and the Urban Forest Plan. The Urban Forest Plan provides a structured planting regime over 10 years with priority areas, information on the benefits of trees, thermal mapping and a staging plan.

    The City plants trees in verges and parks as part of its annual tree planting activities, as well as monitoring and maintaining trees.  Trees are considered in infrastructure design in streets and car parks.

    As the City of Fremantle is heavily urbanised with little 'native bushland' remaining, it lends itself to smaller scale projects and more intensive management of its natural areas. The City supports native verge plantings, revegetation projects in existing parks and reserves, nest box installations, feral animal control and coastal dune protection.

    The City works with the South West Group on an integrated regional approach to biodiversity planning, with all reserves and biodiversity assets currently mapped and catalogued to assess areas for improvement and infill.