Council’s environmental actions and commitments
Council is committed to a number of actions to enhance environmental performance and is currently undertaking a range of these while also reviewing processes to improve biodiversity outcomes.
You can find out more below.
Council has four important touch points for improving biodiversity outcomes in the development process:
- As a part of development investigations and rezonings, Council is actively working with ecological experts and landowners to identify areas for conservation. This builds upon existing environmental zoned land and dedicated green space in Council care and control.
- In the development assessment process, reviewing the consent conditions to ensure requirements for vegetation management are clear and defensible.
- Actively reviewing the work on the ground to ensure compliance action is taken where necessary if conditions of consent have not been complied with when development is occurring.
- Closely reviewing Council’s own works to ensure tree removal is kept to a minimum and where trees do need to be removed, appropriate offsets are put in place
The Maitland Greening Plan is a local response to the global issue of vegetation clearance and biodiversity loss and the range of land degradation issues that result from such actions.
Adopted in 2002, the plan outlines strategies that focus on protecting existing vegetation while rehabilitating and restoring the local environment to address specific land degradation issues. The greening plan and its appendix focus on the vegetation that remains in the Maitland Local Government Area, whilst also providing a strategy for revegetation works.
Since the plan was implemented, major projects have been completed at Tenambit Wetlands, Woodberry Wetlands, Walka Water Works, across our major endangered ecological ecosystems being the Lowland Redgum Forest vegetation community and the Lower Hunter Spotted Gum Ironbark Forest vegetation community, and worked with landholders and across Council land to remove exotic weeds. A number of reserves have also had plantings undertaken within them including areas such as Rathluba Lagoon, Telarah Lagoon, and Morpeth Common.
Projects completed through the Plan have seen more than 250,000 native seedlings planted around Maitland.
A report card on the greening plan sites will be completed and available in the coming months.
In the LSPS adopted in June 2020, Council committed to a number of actions to build on the Maitland Greening Plan and continue to improve environmental performance over time. These include:
- Preparation of an Environmental Strategy to build on the 2002 Maitland Greening Plan and guide Council’s future actions, including protecting, conserving and enhancing our natural environment.
- Protecting and enhancing biodiversity corridors in future planning of greenfield development and investigation areas.
- Investigating local blue and green grids, including the network of green spaces such as parks, playing fields and passive recreation spaces, and blue spaces such as wetlands, rivers and creeks, and how these grids can be connected to and improved over time.
- Reviewing current Development Control Plan provisions to enhance ecologically sustainable outcomes for new development.
- Current Development Control Plan provisions requires approval to clear vegetation and appropriate offsets in many cases.
- Tree removal on rural land is regulated by Local Land Services who have developed a Land Management and Biodiversity Framework for a range of land management activities. Further, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment have several initiatives they are carrying out to improve environmental incomes, including recent updates to the Koala Habitat Protection SEPP, Vegetation SEPP and an Environmental Impact Assessment Improvement Project for significant scale projects.
Since the adoption of the LSPS in June 2020 Council has implemented the following actions:
- Creation of a new Environment & Sustainability Department within Council and the recruitment of three new positions to allow delivery on commitments.
- Development of an improved tree planting program to green Maitland’s streets, improving green spaces and contributing to urban cooling. Council is also in the process of getting new vegetation mapping and strategic advice on our urban vegetation canopy to help in preparing an Urban Tree Canopy Plan to guide our future street tree programs.
- Successfully gained a $300,000 grant for the improvement of environmental spaces at Weblands Street in Aberglasslyn and Dunmore Road in Largs, through a community co-design process and on ground works to support passive recreation and investigation of long term opportunities to use these spaces for long term biodiversity conservation. This project is now in the initial planning phase and will be delivered over the coming two years starting in March 2021.
- Commenced work on the Maitland Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which includes a specific biodiversity theme to guide our work in protecting, conserving and enhancing natural areas.
- Reinvigorated the native seedling giveaway program in a COVID safe format from 5 June 2021 to continue to encourage residents to plant native plants in their backyards.
Recently, Council has hosted Community Planting Days at Bolwarra Heights and Telarah. The days brought the community together to plant trees but also included a compost and seedling giveaway with an opportunity to ask our environmental experts questions about biodiversity. There will be more planting days coming up around the City in the future.
In a previous project in Bolwarra, Council directly engaged with the community with drop in sessions and an online survey and map to post greening ideas. Council’s recreation and biodiversity teams are working together to include ideas the community submitted in the plans for improvement of the sporting complex, such as adding native trees and revegetation of land surrounding the project.
As a part of the preparation of the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Council will be engaging further with the community regarding greening of local spaces throughout Maitland.