Urban Forest Maintenance

The Urban Forest is a significant feature of the University of New England’s campus. It contributes to the campus’ character, provides shade, enhances biodiversity, and improves the health, wellbeing and experience of students, staff and visitors.

Tree Risk Assessment

During the annual inspection the Arborist assesses the risk of each tree, taking into account not just the structural condition, but the location (e.g. whether it located in an area that is highly trafficked by pedestrians such as a main footpath), whether or not there are visible defects such as soil lifting or cracking, and the environmental, social and cultural significance of the tree. The tree is assigned a risk rating of:

  • Negligible;
  • Very Low;
  • Low;
  • Medium;
  • High;
  • Urgent; or
  • Critical.

A rating of high, urgent or critical risk is deemed to be unacceptable, with the probability of failure being likely to certain and consequences rated serious or above. As such, it is necessary to remove some trees where alternative actions such as implementing exclusion zones or installing supporting hardware are not possible.

Communication Process

UNE has developed communication protocols to keep students, staff and the broader Armidale community up to date regarding tree maintenance activities. This includes regular pruning, emergency removal (e.g. trees damaged during storms) and the planned removal of high, urgent and critical rated trees.

The feedback on the proposed communication processes was extremely low. Here is a summary of the feedback.

Pruning Communication Plan

Capital Development Communication Plan

Scheduled Tree Removal Communication Plan

Unscheduled Tree Removal Communication Plan

The University is committed to removing all urgent and critical risk rated trees. University’s arborists risk ratings will not be altered at any stage. Any recommendations on alterations to high risk trees to reduce risk will be approved by the University’s arborists before any work is commenced.

Current Planting Activities

As part of the solar farm project 3,000 native trees have been planted. Water is being sourced from a dam at Laureldale Farm, one of UNE's rural properties.

Species include:

  • Acacia siculiformis (Dagger Wattle);
  • Acacia dawsonii (Poverty Wattle);
  • Bursaria spinosa (Native Blackthorn);
  • Cassinia quinquefaria (Cassinia);
  • Indigofera australis (Australian Indigo);
  • Callistemon pityoides (Alpine Bottlebrush); and
  • Callistemon sieberi (River Bottlebrush).
Current Maintenance Activities
Maintenance

A campus wide tree assessment was undertaken in early 2019 to update the risk rating of trees assessed over the previous years. This was then reassessed recently to update the risk rating for high risk trees, and trees that have been significantly affected by the ongoing drought conditions. The process identified 31 High Risk trees across the campus and the Smart Farm. The assessment is based on a visual inspections, aerial assessments and in some cases more advanced techniques such as the Picus Sonic Tomograph, which uses ultrasound to detect the location and severity of decay in the tree.

Summary of High Risk Trees 2019

26/08/2020"

Emergency tree maintenance will be carried out after a branch fell from tree #1995, a Eucalyptus viminalis, during recent strong winds. The debris will be removed and the remaining branches tidied up.

29/07/2020:

A dead tree #1821 located north of the Ring Road has been assessed as high risk and requires removal due to the proximity to the road. Please provide feedback by close of business, Friday 28 August to environment@une.edu.au.

Interactive Tree Map

Here is a link to an interactive map that shows the trees that are assessed by arborists each year (not every tree is assessed). You can select an individual tree to find out the tree ID number and species. If you would like to search for a specific tree, select the "layer" icon at the top right hand side of the map and click on UNE Trees 2019 and select "view attributes in table". Then you can scroll through the trees and double click to zoom to a specific tree.

Interactive Tree Map UNE Campus

In maintaining this Urban Forest, the University has a duty of care to take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure a safe environment, free from hazards to the health and safety of students, staff and visitors to the campus.

To ensure this approach is structured and well governed the University employs professional level 5 Arborists to inspect annually over 4,000 trees across the campus, including the SMART farms, to assess each trees life cycle and the risk each tree poses to individuals, as well as the built environment.

This assessment process also allows University management to proactively identify structural issues impacting upon tree stability and resulting viability. Using this information mitigation strategies are developed to inform rectification works to safeguard the tree and extended its life cycle and resulting environmental impact.

An unavoidable component of this management planning activity is the removal of trees resulting from complete structural failure, poor tree condition, end of life cycle issues and capital works. Before this option is approved all other avenues for maintaining the trees will be explored, this may involve, but is not limited to, dead wooding, bracing, exclusion zones and as a last resort retaining the tree as a habitat structure.

To further demonstrate the Universities commitment to ensuring a well governed approached to the management of the campus landscape it has established the Armidale Campus Landscape Consultative Group (ACLCG) and the Landscape Management Committee. These groups contain representatives from professional and academic staff, students and members of the general community. The primary objective in the establishment of these two bodies is to assist in considering campus landscape management issues, including the University’s tree management plans.

One of the key objectives of these committees is to establish clear and transparent mechanisms for considering and communicating landscape management issues across campus. In working towards achieving this the ACLCG have developed a series of communication flow processes to officially document the required communication and decision-making structures pertaining to a variety of tree management issues. Committing to these processes will ensure that key stakeholders are informed and involved in tree management decisions effecting the campus and can be found below as well as current tree maintenance work planned on campus.

The University has also made a commitment to cultivating and developing the value of the campus landscape and has pledged to plant 5 trees for every tree removed through this Urban Forest maintenance project.

Conservation Zones: Protecting Endangered Ecological Communities

Ribbon Gum - Mountain Gum - Snow Gum Grassy Forest/Woodland of the New England Tableland Bioregion

UNE is home to an Endangered Ecological Community which is characterised by the following assemblage of species: