EF officially plants its 10,000th tree

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.

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. Three main types would rule supreme with Pyrus Usseriensis, Pyrus Capital and Pyrus Chantilleer largely making up the 10,000 planted.

As part of its centenary celebrations this month, Essendon Fields achieved its important environmental target of planting 10,000 trees.

Without any fanfare, but with great significance to creating an attractive and sustainable environment, Essendon Fields CEO Brendan Pihan, alongside Super Gardens Director Mark Stanbrook and General Manager Adam Strathairn participated in an official tree planting ceremony in early August to officially put the 10,000th new tree in the ground.

Brendan, Mark and Adam then went to review the first ever tree planted as part of the 10,000 Trees Program, which is located outside LaManna Supermarket on English Street. Over six years that sapling has bloomed into a much more mature tree offering shade in summer and a reminder of the beauty of nature to be enjoyed by thousands of visitors each week.

The chance to look back at the origins of the program allowed Brendan and the team at Super Gardens to reminisce about the achievements of the tree planting that has significantly enhanced the surrounds of Essendon Fields, as well as plan for the future. The overwhelming positive values associated with the planting of trees include but are not limited to enhancing habitat values, improving air quality, improving community environmental liveability, enhancing heritage and cultural values, enhancing economic values and reinforcing city community identity. Trees form an intrinsic role in establishing a sense of local identity and a ‘sense of place.’ The intention of this project was largely to develop and enhance a recognisable landscape typology for Essendon Fields, and to position Essendon Fields as a leader in Urban Forestry.

The success of the approach within the sustainability program to create a green airport environment is evident, with on-site landscapers Super Gardens awarded the 2018 Victorian Commercial Landscape Management and Maintenance Award for their continued work on the Essendon Fields precinct.

Super Gardens have been providing grounds maintenance and landscape upgrades to Essendon Fields since 2002, helping create and maintain a multi-award-winning precinct. In fact in 2018 Super Gardens won Victoria’s best commercial landscaping award for their work.

“I’m very proud that Essendon Fields has met this milestone target to plant 10,000 trees that it set itself years ago. As we move into our next century I know we’ll keep on planting more and more’’ said Brendan Pihan, CEO Essendon Fields

“About 6000 people work at Essendon Fields today. We expect that number to swell to about 20,000 people over the next 20 years, servicing the expected population growth in Melbourne’s north-west. A healthy urban forest will play a critical role in maintaining the health and durability of Essendon Fields as we face significant population growth and urban heating alongside climate change. With Super Gardens help we look to continue to create a long-term sustainable landscape”, finished Mr Pihan.

Having reached 10,000 trees Essendon Fields now looks to the future to determine the next initiatives that will support urban regeneration plans and a low carbon strategy for the airport, and this will largely focus on reducing the overall carbon footprint.

With 1 million litres of rainwater storage currently the capacity, Essendon Fields looks to increase this to 1.5 million litres, and careful consideration will go towards the incorporation of water sensitive urban design initiatives into new development. Rooftop solar PV panels will continue to roll out as well, which will create significant power supply to feed back into the EF embedded network. Over the last 14months 600 panels have been installed, with the intent to grow to 1500-2000 panels and a long-term view to generate over 50% of the electricity needs for the park from a renewable resource.

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