Community digs deep to create habitat on National Tree Day

31 Jul 2023

Local residents, students and City of Newcastle (CN) staff this week dug deep to plant more than 8,000 native trees, shrubs and grasses as part of National Tree Day celebrations.

Around 120 students from Wallsend and Wallsend South Public Schools pulled on their gardening gloves to revitalise and restore an area alongside Ironbark Creek during Schools Tree Day on 28 July before members of the wider community took part in a planting event at the Wallsend site today.

The community efforts provided the finishing touches to the latest stage of CN’s ongoing Ironbark Creek Rehabilitation Program.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said connecting with local school students and residents to plant trees and learn about Newcastle's largest tidal creek was a special way to mark the national event.

"I was delighted to see such a large turnout today and I want to thank everyone who came down to join us. The response from the community highlights how important natural areas like Ironbark Creek are to Newcastle,” Cr Nelmes said.

"Over the last decade CN has worked tirelessly to improve creek stability and enhance water quality along Ironbark Creek.

“We’ve invested more than $8 million into this multi-stage, award-winning rehabilitation program. During the past 12 years, CN has delivered more than 3,000m of rehabilitated creek lines within the catchment and revegetated previously weedy and eroding creek banks with hundreds of thousands of native shrubs and grasses to reinstate native wildlife corridors.

“By involving residents and students in the work being done at Ironbark Creek we hope to encourage a strong and lasting connection between the community and this important ecosystem.”

National Tree Day is just one of the initiatives supported by CN under its Natural Connections program, which is designed to increase Newcastle's urban forest, mitigate urban heat, connect our communities to their local natural places and create pockets of habitat for native fauna.

During the last financial year, more than 74,000 native plants were established across the city as part of our revegetation efforts, while suburbs across Newcastle benefitted from the addition of almost 2,000 new street trees as part of a $1.5 million investment by CN.

CN recently awarded a tender for $1.2 million for an expansive natural area's rehabilitation program in 2023/24, which will see around 170 hectares of bushland regenerated.

Work will include around 70,000 sqm of riverbank revegetation, the planting 150,000 native tubestock plants along riparian zones, coastal dune systems and bushland sites, and the establishment and maintenance of new and existing revegetation works. Coastal stabilisation and dune rehabilitation works, fire access trail maintenance, the installation of 500 metres of wind protection fencing and the maintenance of 40 devices to improve the quality of stormwater will also be completed during the next 12 months.

Cr Nelmes said CN was committed to caring for Newcastle’s natural areas and was currently seeking public feedback on its Draft Environment Strategy.

“We want Newcastle to be an even more sustainable city, where we value our natural environment and continue to take decisive action at the local level to respond to challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, and the overuse of resources,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The Newcastle Environment Strategy is our definitive roadmap for achieving our progressive environmental ambitions. Through this strategy, we are sending a signal to the community that we are strongly committed to protecting and enhancing Newcastle’s natural environment today and for future generations of Novocastrians.”

Community members can provide feedback on the strategy until 24 August 2023 by visiting the Have Your Say page on CN’s website.

National Tree Day is an initiative organised by Planet Ark in partnership with major sponsor Toyota Australia and its dealer network. The community day was supported by Local Land Services, the Department of Planning and Environment and Newcastle Landcare.