The NSW opposition has criticized the government for allowing developers to cut established trees and clear urban bushland, while the planning minister celebrated the planting of one million trees over three years.
Anthony Roberts scooped up soil while planting a white gum at Elizabeth Macarthur Reserve in Camden to mark the completion of the tree planting program.
“This is the culmination of more than three years of hard work to meet the government’s priority of planting one million new trees in Greater Sydney by 2022, with countless people joining us in the one million tree challenge,” he said.
More than 77,000 trees were given away by the NSW government to Sydney residents as part of the $30 million program, which Roberts said he hoped would lead to further planting efforts.
The NSW government also has a long-term goal of increasing the canopy and green cover in Greater Sydney to 40 percent by 2036.
“Together we have created – and continue to create – greener, safer and cooler urban environments with world-class green spaces for everyone to enjoy,” he said.
Labour’s environmental spokeswoman Penny Sharpe supported planting trees in Sydney to cool the city and protect biodiversity, but said it was not a substitute for existing trees providing a canopy and habitat for wildlife.
“After 12 years, the government’s approach has been to allow the felling of existing trees and clearing urban bushland rather than finding ways to really try to preserve what is already there,” she said.