Ettalong, Umina, Booker Bay and parts of Woy Woy are the hottest suburbs on the Central Coast, all measuring more than four degrees above average, a new report has found.
The area of tree canopy cover at Woy Woy declined by 173 hectares between 2005 and 2014, while the area of impervious surfaces increased by 84 hectares and unplantable space increased by 113 hectares.
Woy Woy contained the greatest area of impervious cover on the Coast at 3.94 square kilometres followed by Umina at 3.54 square kilometres.
The Peninsula as a whole now has less than 10 per cent tree canopy cover.
Those are the figures provided in Central Coast Council’s draft Greener Places Strategy which is now open for public comment.
A consultants’ report within the strategy states that “this pattern of land cover change, particularly the significant tree canopy loss, has substantial implications for the future liveability … and the health and well-being” of the urban environment and the local community.
The strategy states Woy Woy’s land area as 22.9 square kilometres (2290 hectares), while Wikipedia puts it at six square kilometres (600 hectares).
The report states: “The suburb of Woy Woy contains two lobes, one urban (eastern) and one vegetated (western). Considered individually, the urban lobe may be one of the hottest in the council (area).”
It noted that Woy Woy had a relatively low level of canopy cover, but it would have been even lower if a large area of Brisbane Water National Park was not included.
Blackwall, Booker Bay, Ettalong Beach, St Hubert’s Island, Umina Beach and Woy Woy were among the top 18 suburbs identified for planting to increase their tree canopy.
Urban heat island mapping has shown that on hot days the forest within Blackwall Mountain is more than four degrees cooler than urban housing in Ettalong Beach.
In the five years between 2013 and 2018, the report found that temperatures at Ettalong and Booker Bay had increased further compared to background levels in bushland.
Ettalong increased by 2.6 degrees while Booker Bay increased by 1.8 degrees.
Urban development was the primary cause for warmer suburbs, according to the report prepared by Seed Consulting Services which was included in the draft.
The report said dark coloured, impervious surfaces such as bitumen roads and dark roofs could absorb large amounts of heat, while artificial turf, rubber soft fall matting used in playgrounds, and bare ground could also be amongst the hottest land surface types in an urban landscape.
“Importantly for the urban heat island effect, bitumen roads retain this heat into the evening and re-radiate heat well into the night.
“In contrast, green space featuring living turf were cooler than average during the day and night.”
About 74 per cent of the Central Coast consists of native vegetation, of which about half occurs in conservation areas managed as reserves, State Forests and National Parks.
Outside of these areas, urban trees may provide habitat for other threatened species, the report said.
These included the eastern osprey which may roost or nest in very tall Norfolk Island pines in the Blackwall area or the grey-headed flying fox, swift parrot and little lorikeet which may forage on flowering eucalypts.
The report said urban forests may act as a stepping stone between patches of bushland, allowing wildlife to disperse or migrate across the region.
The strategy proposes mechanisms to “sustain and enhance the urban forest canopy across all land parcels in the urban suburbs”.
It aims to increase the level of tree planting in the 18 priority suburbs with the greatest level of Urban Heat Island Effect;
It will implement successional planting in Council passive open space reserves;
Public trees that are removed would be replaced by planting two new trees in the same suburb.
Private developers would be required to complete “high quality landscaping” in medium and high density development through future changes to Council’s Development Control Plan.
More information may be found and submissions about the strategy may be made at www.yourvoiceourcoast.com/GreeningCentralCoast
The draft strategy is on public exhibition until September 5.
Website, 15 Aug 2019
Greener Places Strategy, Central Coast Council