Melbourne's urban forest visual tool

In a follow up to the heat island effect tool, the City of Melbourne has again come up with something really comprehensive. They have developed an Urban Forest Visual tool, which is an interactive map that allows you to explore Melbourne’s tree data (location, lifespan and genus). Both these tools are used as part of Urban Forest Strategy developed by council.

The main vision of the Urban Forest Strategy is to increase canopy cover in the city to make it greener, more liveable and sustainable. It outlines six strategies with clear targets that will contribute to achieving the vision. One of the targets is to increase public realm canopy cover by 18 per cent by 2040.

The tool maps all the information for 10 precincts in the City of Melbourne. It includes CBD and surrounding inner Melbourne suburbs like Carlton, Docklands, Southbank and others. They have used technologies like lidar and orthophotography to get accurate measures for canopy cover across the city.

We complete a visual comparison between trees planted in the last decade and trees that have less than a 10 year life expectancy in the CBD. It is shocking to see that the trees planted in last decade will not cover the loss – there are fewer than half what there should be to replace the canopy. If the ratio was at least 1:1, we could maintain the existing green infrastructure.

Trees having less than a 10 year life

Trees planted in last decade
The Canopy Graph demonstrates what the future will look like if we stop planting trees and what will happen if we plant new trees at a rate of approximately 3,000 trees per year to 2040 for all precincts. We would see a 19 per cent improvement if we planted these trees – a far better outcome for Melbourne’s future.

Trees not only contribute ecologically and environmentally but they have wider positive impacts in terms of social and economic values.

Melbourne's canopy graphed: with & without tree planting

One of the major issues stated in the Urban Forest Strategy is urban intensification and population growth. With growing development there is less control over the extent of vegetation on private land, reduction of permeable surfaces, lack of sunlight on streets and increased pressure on public spaces to accommodate more uses. It is vital for all new developments (major and small scale) to accommodate green spaces within their design where possible, like green roofs and walls.

The Council is also conducting workshops with the community. The next workshops will be in Parkville, Fishermans Bend, Southbank and South Wharf. If you are interested in receiving any further updates you can visit the website or email


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