Urban Canopy


Kirsty McIntyre
Senior Policy Officer - Environment 

Phone: 02 9242 4055 

Local Government NSW provides policy support and advocacy services to member councils on a range of issues concerning street trees and urban forests.

Urban canopies and street trees are extremely important assets for local councils. Not only do they bring aesthetic appeal to towns and cities, but they also provide cooling shade, improve air quality and even help to enhance property values.

Street trees

Several NSW councils have developed Street Tree Master Plans to guide street tree planting programs and achieve an increase in the quality and quantity of the area’s urban canopy.

These master plans provide a clear vision for the council’s streetscapes and ensure that a species selected for planting is the “right tree in the right location”.

Urban forests

LGNSW supports urban forestry principles to promote a vision for the future and principles of management for urban forests. The concept of the urban forest looks at urban trees and other vegetation as individual parts of the whole vegetation cover within a town or city.

A number of councils have developed urban forest policies to manage and plan for the green infrastructure in their area, including City of Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle councils.

Urban forest policies aim to improve urban forest planning, management and practices throughout NSW local government areas so that communities receive maximum benefit from their urban forest for an acceptable cost and in a manner based on the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD).

Urban green cover

The concept of urban green cover involves integrating nature into the built environment to help solve urban and climatic challenges. Essentially, it’s a broad range of low cost strategies to integrate green, permeable and reflective surfaces into cities and towns. Examples include:

  • Green roofs and walls
  • Green streets, including street trees, understoreys, bio-swales, median planting, permeable surfaces and/or light coloured surfaces and pavements
  • Green open space, including canopy trees to shade parks, paths, amenities and forecourts, as well as green infrastructure such as rain gardens, soft landscaping of detention basins and stormwater channels and culverts.

Some of the benefits of urban green cover include:

  • Biodiversity protection, providing important habitat and corridors for birds and animals
  • Heat mitigation through transpiration, shade and passive cooling
  • Energy efficiency by reducing the need for air conditioning in offices and homes
  • Improved air quality Water absorption capturing stormwater and reducing peak flows and improved water quality
  • Noise reduction

The NSW Government has produced Technical Guidelines for Urban Green Cover in NSW to provide advice on best practice.

The Greening our City grant program supports councils and their partners to enhance urban tree canopy and green cover by co-funding tree planting and demonstration projects across Greater Sydney.