The loss of urban green space and native vegetation is a very important issue for Local Government, particularly in urban areas where there is clearing of land for infill and greenfield development. Reduced canopy cover impacts on public amenity, human health and biodiversity and as trees are often replaced with hard surfaces, this generally leads to increases in average temperatures creating urban heat islands. This often results in increased energy and water use for homes and businesses.
Local Governments have been playing a leading role to address this issue with many developing and implementing urban forest and/or greening strategies, adopting significant tree registers and tree bonds and making amendments to Local Planning Schemes.

To support Local Government efforts to maintain their urban tree canopy, it is vital that State Government provides the necessary statutory guidance and planning policies and WALGA will continue to advocate strongly for these changes.

Local Government Urban Forest Working Group

In early 2019 WALGA established the Local Government Urban Forest Working Group and is currently represented by 34 Local Governments from across the state. The purpose of the Working Group is to build the capacity of Local Government, identifying gaps and developing practical planning outcomes and tools. The Working Group operates as a community of practice for members to share their experiences, take collective action and responsibility for progressing agreed priority issues.

For more information on the Working Group, please contact WALGA Senior Policy Advisor, Environment, Jade Mains or WALGA Manager, Planning and Buildings, Chris Hossen.


Better Urban Forest Planning Guide

In November 2018, WALGA along with the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage released the Better Urban Forest Planning Guide. The Guide will assist Councils, developers and government agencies in their planning and policies around urban greening, tree retention and replacement. It includes information on planning, market based and regulatory ‘tools’, case studies that highlight ‘best-practice’ actions and how to access CSIRO’s Urban Monitor data.  

WALGA have been actively involved with supporting Local Governments in the preparation of reports, papers and hosting of workshops, including:


There are a number of approaches Local Governments take in measuring urban canopy.

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage provides open source urban canopy data through Urban Forest mapping and via the Urban Tree Canopy Dashboard.

Further resources on urban forests: