“IT’S a great day for planting trees,” Janice Summerhayes says as she walks in light rain towards a team of Wagga City Council arborists breaking ground in Dove Street.
The group is planting in the Mount Austin street some of the 650 trees and shrubs going into the ground this winter as part of council’s annual street tree planting program.
Ms Summerhayes, council’s director of environmental and community services, says trees and shrubs have three major benefits: they improve the economic value of residential streets, they improve “liveability” of suburbs and they make people feel better.
“Trees are like mini air-conditioners,” Ms Summerhayes says. “You know what Wagga is like in February with 40 degrees heat; everybody is trying to find a tree for shade.”
Another benefit of street trees Ms Summerhayes is keen to point out is they act as corridors for wildlife, such as rainbow lorikeets and honeyeaters, to move from one nature reserve around the city to another.
“If you don’t have the trees you don’t have these birds and it would be a very barren environment,” Ms Summerhayes says while looking at a lorikeet feeding on gum tree flowers.
Council’s supervisor of tree planting and management, Jim Dunn, says a lot of planning goes into the type of trees and shrubs planted, and where they go.
For example, bottlebrushes instead of trees have been planted on the western side of Bourke Street north of Fernleigh Road under powerlines because they will not need trimming.
On the eastern side of the street, long-lasting deciduous trees called hackberry have been planted because they will provide shade in summer and let sunlight through in winter.
Other plantings this year include colourful crepe myrtles in Hammond Avenue near Masters, red flowering gums at Lloyd and white cedars (a non-flowering and non-fruiting type) in central Wagga.
Research published in the Scientific Reports journal this week claims that adding 10 trees per average block can make residents feel seven years younger or $10,000 richer.
Council is inviting residents to attend a community planting event on Clifton Street at Hilltop on Sunday, July 26, at 10am. Details of the event can be found at www.wagga.nsw.gov.au/environment.
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