A History of Arboriculture - Canberra

A History of Arboriculture – Canberra

A History of Arboriculture – Canberra

How Did Canberra’s Unique Urban Forest Begin?

Canberra, Australia’s capital city, has a remarkable urban forest that sets it apart from other Australian cities. The creation of Canberra’s urban forest dates back to the early 20th century when the city was purpose-built as the nation’s capital. The visionaries behind Canberra’s design, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, placed great importance on trees and green spaces to create a “garden city” that harmonized with the surrounding landscape.

What Trees Did the Indigenous Ngunnawal People Use?

Before European settlement, the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land that is now Canberra, had an intimate relationship with the local flora. They used various native trees for food, shelter, medicine, and tools. Key species included eucalyptus, casuarina, and acacia.

How Did Early European Settlers Influence Canberra’s Arboriculture?

As European settlers arrived in the region, they introduced a range of exotic tree species to complement the native trees. Pioneering horticulturists such as Charles Weston played a vital role in establishing Canberra’s unique urban forest. Weston, as the first superintendent of parks and gardens, sourced trees from around the world and conducted trials to determine which species would thrive in Canberra’s climate.

Which Public Parks and Gardens Showcase Canberra’s Tree History?

Canberra boasts numerous parks and gardens that showcase the city’s arboricultural history. The Australian National Botanic Gardens, established in 1949, is home to a diverse collection of native Australian plants, including many rare and threatened species. Other notable parks include Commonwealth Park, Glebe Park, and the National Arboretum Canberra, which houses a living collection of over 44,000 trees from around the globe.

How Has Canberra’s Urban Forest Been Managed Over Time?

Throughout its history, Canberra’s urban forest has been managed by various government agencies, with the current responsibility lying with the ACT Government’s City Services department. They implement tree management strategies, such as tree planting programs, maintenance activities, and the development of urban forest policies, to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of Canberra’s trees.

How Do Canberra’s Trees Contribute to the City’s Urban Design?

Trees play a vital role in Canberra’s urban design, with numerous streets and neighborhoods featuring tree-lined avenues and green spaces. These elements not only contribute to the city’s aesthetic appeal but also provide a range of environmental benefits, such as improved air quality, reduced urban heat island effect, and habitat for native wildlife. The Griffins’ original vision for a garden city has been realized through the harmonious integration of trees into Canberra’s urban fabric.

What Are Some Iconic Trees and Heritage Trees in Canberra?

Canberra is home to several iconic and heritage trees that hold significant cultural, historical, or ecological value. Some notable examples include the Cork oaks at the Yarralumla Nursery, the Himalayan cedars at the Australian War Memorial, and the endangered yellow box eucalyptus found in various nature reserves. These trees are protected through measures such as listing on the ACT Tree Register, ensuring their long-term preservation.

Which Tree Species Are Commonly Planted in Canberra Today?

Today, a mix of native and exotic tree species can be found throughout Canberra. Some of the most commonly planted trees include:

No.Common NameScientific NameNative/Exotic
1Blakely’s Red GumEucalyptus blakelyiNative
2Yellow BoxEucalyptus melliodoraNative
3Weeping BottlebrushCallistemon viminalisNative
4Crimson BottlebrushCallistemon citrinusNative
5Callery PearPyrus calleryanaExotic
6Japanese Flowering CherryPrunus serrulataExotic
7English OakQuercus roburExotic
8Red MapleAcer rubrumExotic
9River She-oakCasuarina cunninghamianaNative
10Silver WattleAcacia dealbataNative
11Silky OakGrevillea robustaNative
12Claret AshFraxinus raywoodiiExotic
13London PlanePlatanus × acerifoliaExotic
14Snow GumEucalyptus paucifloraNative
15Golden RobiniaRobinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’Exotic
16White CedarMelia azedarachExotic
17Chinese ElmUlmus parvifoliaExotic
18Cootamundra WattleAcacia baileyanaNative
19Pin OakQuercus palustrisExotic
20Sugar GumEucalyptus cladocalyxNative

These trees are selected for their adaptability to Canberra’s climate, aesthetics, and low maintenance requirements.

How Do Homeowners and Gardeners Contribute to Canberra’s Arboriculture?

Homeowners and gardeners play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing Canberra’s urban forest. Local councils and community groups provide resources and support to help residents choose the right trees for their properties, plant them correctly, and care for them over time. By planting and maintaining trees on private property, Canberra residents contribute to the overall health and diversity of the city’s urban forest.

Interesting Facts About Canberra’s Trees:
  1. The National Arboretum Canberra features 94 forests of rare, endangered, and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world.
  2. The Himalayan cedars at the Australian War Memorial were planted in the 1920s and are now considered heritage trees.
  3. Canberra’s urban forest comprises over 760,000 trees, with approximately 480 different species.
Links for Further Reading:
  1. The National Arboretum Canberra: [https://www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au/]
  2. Canberra’s Urban Forest Strategy: [https://www.cityservices.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1337636/Canberras-Urban-Forest-Strategy-2020-2045.pdf]
  3. Australian National Botanic Gardens: [https://www.anbg.gov.au/
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