Home' The Canberra Times : Chronicle 31.01.12 Contents THE CHRONICLE, Tuesday, January 31 2012 - 20
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Preserving urban treescapes
Michael Brice coordinates the management of the ACT's urban trees.
Picture: Elesa Lee
MICHAEL Brice wants to leave
something beautiful behind for the
future generations of Canberra.
But with more than 700,000 trees in
his care, the acting manager of urban
treescapes has his work cut out for
In the late 1970s Mr Brice moved to
Canberra from the South Coast to
study forestry. Scoring a job with
Territory and Municipal Services en-
sured he never left.
''When I started as a gardening aid
back in 1986 I had a hands-on
approach,'' he said.
''I did the chainsawing, the climb-
ing, the tree pruning and removal stuff.
''These days I do a lot of the
administration...I keep the crews oper-
While Mr Brice said he missed the
hands-on stuff, he enjoyed his role in
protecting and maintaining the capi-
He said Canberra's decade-long
drought was one of the biggest
challenges he has had to deal with.
Over the past 10 years Urban
Treescapes was forced to cut down
20,000 drought-affected trees -- an
expensive and laborious task.
''Trees affected by the drought
either died or went into decline, so
either way we had to either cut them
down or prune them to make them
safe,'' he said.
Mr Brice said last year's report into
tree management by the ACT Com-
missioner for Sustainability and the
Environment Dr Maxine Cooper was
this garden city's saving grace.
''Certainly one of the big things was
recommending that we get additional
funding to do our job and we're seeing
the benefits of that now,'' he said.
''This financial year we'll be plant-
ing something like 2000 trees.
''Five years ago we probably were
only ever doing 300 to 500, so it's a
vast increase on what we've been able
Improving technology has also
changed the way Urban Treescapes
works, with new systems aiding water-
ing and maintenance.
''GPS technology has been great
because we've actually started to audit
our new trees in particular and know
exactly where they're located and what
they are, and we're using that infor-
mation to update our maps for water-
ing contractors and give them very
detailed information about what we
expect them to do,'' he said.
''That's part of the future. It's one of
the key things that will help us leave
something behind that will be of use to
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