EF sets new target of planting 15,000 trees

Once upon a time at a landscape design meeting at Essendon Fields Airport back in 2015, an ambitious site greening plan was tabled. In part inspired by projects visited by the Airport owners to sites in the U.S.A, parts of Asia, and in particular New Dehli, it was decided that an ‘Urban Forest’ would be created on site.

Initially the team were unsure as to what was achievable as a relevant contribution to the Essendon Fields ‘Urban Forest’ – the proposed tree number target started at 2,000, moved to 5,000, before ending at a truly significant target of 10,000 extra advanced trees, to be planted as soon as practically achievable.

In 2021 Essendon Fields planted its 10,000th new tree on site, hitting the ambitious target in record time. With that goal achieved, an increase has now been confirmed, with a short-term target of 11,000 to be reached by the end of FY24 and another 4,000 on top of that to be planted as soon as practically achievable.

“We currently have 10,540 trees planted across the Fields, with some of these currently planted within our tree farm. Around 300 trees will be planted into the estate from the farm this season,’’ said Essendon Fields Facilities Manager, Ashley Young.

During the planting of the original 10,000 trees across Essendon Fields, three main tree types dominate with Pyrus Usseriensis, Pyrus Capital and Pyrus Chantilleer making up the majority. Tree types were uniquely selected for their drought tolerance and efficient water use, as well as for being ornamental rather than fruit bearing to passively discourage wildlife in order to reduce the potential for bird strikes on airport.

Adam Strathairn, General Manager – Aviation Services for Super Gardens, says that while future tree choices will follow similar species to what you see around the precinct, the focus will be to diversify the Essendon Fields tree portfolio.

“We’re essentially looking to minimise the risks attached to having a dominant tree, where it can leave us vulnerable if a bug or disease appears and affects those particular trees,’’ said Mr Strathairn.

“One of the highlights of the additional tree planting is that we have ordered approximately 180 magnolias. We think they will become a real feature at Essendon Fields,’’ he said.

“I’m very proud that Essendon Fields has been able to increase our urban forest target and commit to planting a total of 15,000 trees,” said Brendan Pihan, CEO Essendon Fields.

“About 6,000 people work at Essendon Fields today, and we expect that number to swell to about 20,000 people over the next 20 years. A healthy urban forest will play a critical role in maintaining the health and durability of Essendon Fields as we face significant population growth, as well as help to reduce the heat island effect at our airport”.

“I’m also proud to note that some of the first 10,000 trees have been dedicated as memorials to special friends of the airport. Roger Meyers from the Civil Aviation Historical Society, passionate aviator Gordon Reid, and most recently the iconic Pasquale LaManna. This project is more than just a low carbon strategy for our airport,” Mr Pihan finished.

For more information about the commitment to sustainability at Essendon Fields please visit: https://ef.com.au/about-us/sustainability/