Alliance Members Info

MEETING: I-TREE ECO
WORKABILITY STRATEGIES, FUTURE TREE PLANTING, FUNDING & CARBON FARMING INITATIVE

8/22/2011

Time 10.45am – 2.30pm

Venue - Charles Byrnes Room, Parramatta Town Hall

Meeting called by: Craig Hallam – Research Leader i-tree Australia - Arboriculture Australia

Invited Attendees: present

Arboriculture Australia | Robert Sutton - President  - Custodian i-Tree Australia

Nursery & Garden Industry Australia|Robert Prince CEO

Anthony Kachenko - Technical Research Manager

Australian Landscape Industry | Steve Simpson - President

Brisbane City Council |  Representatives (Elected Members also welcome)

Parramatta City Council | Representatives (Elected Members also welcome) | Rob Sutton

Sydney City Council | Representatives (Elected Members also welcome)

Melbourne City Council | Representatives (Elected Members also welcome) |  Meg Caffin

Lend Lease | Troy Daly

ENSPEC Pty Ltd | Chris Spencer – Lead Researcher – i-Tree Australia

RSVP to craig.hallam@enspec.com of attendees – Wednesday 17th August 2011. 

Please read:

http://www.itreetools.org/eco/index.php

http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/carbon-farming-initative/domestic-offsets.aspx

http://www.climatechange.gov.au/cfi

Please bring: Open mind and a happy attitude.

11.00am – 2.00pm (lunch on the run provided)

Discuss with Industry Representatives about gaining $125,000.00 in funding to make i-tree eco available for QLD, NT, WA, SA and Tasmania.  NGIA may be able to assist.

DDiscuss with Industry Representatives about gaining $125,000.00 to further refine the energy calculations within i-tree eco program for Australia. This is specifically looking at categorising Australian housing types by vintage and construction type plus their typical energy usage.  This will then feed into the current i-tree model. NGIA may be able to assist.

 Look at ways to positively market and educate the community on what we are doing and how to use this information to benefit everyone

Canvass and educate federal and state government on the benefits and the opportunities to allow Urban Forests to play a larger role in carbon reduction strategy.

Look at ways for councils/states to use their land to attract investment from polluting industries to fund councils to plant more trees in there vacant sites and trade off the carbon sequestration with the polluter in line with Emission Trading prior to 2015.  This may result in councils/state government leasing planting opportunities to polluters which is maintained by councils/states.

Start to look at urban development design to grow trees for a minimum of 100 years.  This will include infrastructure design.

Investigate with NGIA more suitable species to maximise sequestration and balance this with energy benefits. 

Work with NGIA members to grow trees of excellence to meet this new specification of tree types.

Prepare the nursery industry for peak supply demand over the next 15 years for trees to be planted in the Urban Forest

Prepare submission to gain accreditation for the Carbon Farming Initiativ

Other initiatives tabled at the meeting (GM/ biotechnology for urban trees?)

2.00pm to 2.30pm

Closing discussion

Meeting Overview

Introduction by Craig Hallam of the attendees, reasons for the meeting, overview of the agenda, and the need to avoid internal politics.

Generally identified that the meeting attendees represent the gamete of the industry; covering plant conception, implementation, management and monitoring.

Generally identified the need to change local government’s perception of their urban forest in terms of it being an asset and underutilized resource base.  This ideology change needs to primarily target upper management, CEO’s and local members.

Generally identified the need to prepare the right educational information to provide to potential users (i.e. government and industry.)  The right tree, for the right site, for the right purpose; and the value of identifying these parameters. Educational information needs to be prepared and disseminated.

Robert Prince (NGIA) identifies the value of urban forestry in housing development and opportunities for the use of i-TreeEco in these projects for better strategic planning.

Robert Prince (NGIA) stated current and past research projects relevant to i-TreeEco e.g. CSIRO (heat island effects and benefits of urban canopy cover) and Macquarie University. 

Robert Prince (NGIA) identified the issues with urban forestry not being currently included in the Kyoto protocol.

Robert Prince (NGIA) identified that the CSIRO now have a green infrastructure agenda.

Robert Prince (NGIA) stated recent program and campaign to “improve plant life balance”; the campaign aimed to improve public awareness with a demographic largely devoid of plant interaction. It was mainly aimed at the individual consumer benefits from improved plant interaction with the general public.  Also provided information on species trends (i.e. best plants for growers to produce) and benefits of biotechnology within the industry (i.e. breeding plants for specific uses within urban forests and residential properties given climate and environmental constraints). 

Robert Prince (NGIA) identified that they have access to a community engagement budget to promote i-TreeEco and have direct links within Federal and State government for climate issues. 

Generally identified that consumer attitudes will drive future climate and urban forest policy.

Steve (Australian Landscape Industry) discussed recent project that involved seed stock being collected from local area – approx. 1.4 million plants.  However, a change in the majority of the revegetation becoming unviable.  This discussion highlighted the need for consistency with any i-TreeEco projects and the need to formulate adequate management and custodian agreements and contracts to ensure that future project remain viable.

Steve (Australian Landscape Industry) discussed the need for communication with designers, planners, engineers.  Primarily in terms of designing infrastructure to accommodate retention of trees for longer periods.

Robert Sutton (Arboriculture Australia) discussed the opportunities for trees to be used as an advertisement of good urban design.  The message that needs to be promoted must target the public, as they can dictate what and where forests are planted. 

Robert Sutton (Arboriculture Australia) identified that local environment plans (LEP) are state generated but can have minor council amendments.  This allows for planning controls for urban forest renewal and the ability to reshape attitudes in terms of species selection, planting locations and improvement in design infrastructure.

Robert Sutton (Arboriculture Australia) identified that the current lack of urban forest quantification causes an impasse in budget allocations and thus the preparation of appropriate business plans; and that i-TreeEco represent an opportunity to change this situation.

Troy (Lend Lease) states that their main motivation for current and recent projects are aesthetics, water conservation, greater control on species selection, and focus on public open space design. 

Troy (Lend Lease) identified the need for carbon accounting within their developments, so as to provide a before and after benefit analysis during the planning application stage. 

Troy (Lend Lease) identified that at the development stage their project briefs currently include hydrological impacts, but in future would need to include analysis of the developments pollution, carbon, and heat island impacts.  Thus i-TreeEco represents an opportunity to facilitate the collection and representation of this information.

Troy (Lend Lease) currently have budgets allocations available for research into tree benefits that can be strategically funneled into available projects.  Thus opportunities may be available to provide funding for research into the benefits of trees on building and energy usage, and the social benefits of trees in urban development areas.

Troy (Lend Lease) state that they currently have preferred species (mainly endemic), planting orientation, and planning longevity within their developments.  It is identified that i-TreeEco and further research may change these preferences.

Meg (Melbourne CC) identified that the quantification of tree benefits can potential led to increased urban forestry budgets.

Meg (Melbourne CC) provided an overview of the Melbourne Urban Forest Accord Group (MUFAG) and this project’s outcomes and progress. 

Meg (Melbourne CC) identified that there is now a need for education; both to the public and local government regarding the availability and use of i-TreeEco. 

Meg (Melbourne CC) identified that the biggest issues experienced was in the availability to resources and the pressures of internal politics.  However, it was expressed that many passionate and interested parties are available but they need to be informed and coordinated to enable social and bureaucratic change.

General  Discussion Topics Overview

iTree is free; data is not.

iTree fits into the Non-Kyoto activities for carbon accounting.

Need to iterate to users and managers that the underlying data in iTree is amendable only through USDA and cannot be changed by users.  However, data input into the system is reliant on trained assessors and must be auditable and transparent.  Best management practices required for all level of interaction with iTree.

Funding Avenues:  NGIA (could be available within 12 months); Opportunities to canvas councils and industry for small contributions to complete remaining states. 

Utilize existing iTree data and completed projects as advertising to industry and councils.  Could be used in conjunction with other promotional materials

Funding for building and energy data research that will be incorporated into i-TreeEco could be sourced through the Federal government.  NGIA to investigate opportunities, and ENSPEC to liaise with USDA and i-TreeEco working group to discuss options for changing current protocol and calculations. Anthony will investigate funding opportunities for building data research funding.

Future Priorities

Carbon Farming Initiative Submission – ENSPEC to prepare a submission to CFI to get i-TreeEco as a recognized methodology.

Obtain sponsorship or funding for the completion of i-TreeEco Australia – Funding sources through Council, Industry and NGIA.  ENSPEC and NGIA to discuss further in September 2011.

Educational information to be prepared and disseminated.  Different educational packages will need to be prepared.  Educational packages will need to be targeted to CEO’s and upper council management (one page summary), Consultants, tree managers and other practitioners.  Target audience will need a more detailed summary package similar to that currently being prepared by MUFAG – Meg Caffin and NGIA to coordinate educational information.

Need to source funding for building and energy data collation research that will be incorporated into i-TreeEco.  USDA and iTree working group yet to confirm the changes that will occur to this part of the program – ENSPEC and NGIA to discuss further in September 2011.

Best Management practices to be developed and included into NATSPEC for Australian Standard recognition – ALI and NGIA to discuss further in September 2011.

Research

Comparisons of environmental benefits of urban forests in different states.

Research into the best tree species for certain sites.  Need to be have demonstrateable and documented benefits for certain species.

Investigate and access housing construction research. Tony Hall at Griffith University identified as a contact through NGIA.

Opportunities to utilize existing research (e.g. Accurate, Basix, Greenstar) to input into system. However, it will be dependent on USDA and i-TreeEco working group as to what develops in terms of their modifications to building type and energy use calculations. 

Investigate opportunities for GM trees or biotechnology in urban forestry.