It’s 2030, imagine if…

CERES Urban Forestry (CUF) redefined 21st century forestry, connecting people to the story of timber and positioning end-of-life or storm-fallen urban trees as valuable resources to be put to the highest and best use. Tapping into emerging surveying technologies, CUF developed a streamlined set of procedures for the identification, milling and distribution of urban trees, expanding across 88 Eastern Seaboard councils by 2030 and processing over 30,000 trees into high quality timber destined for building and habitat construction, community projects and reuse by Indigenous-led enterprises. Urban mills, staffed with a workforce consisting predominantly of asylum seekers, referred to as ‘urban foresters’, are now scattered throughout our cities. Profits flow back to CERES’s urban farming education initiative, further connecting urban communities with the natural world.

Summary of solution

The Earth's standing forests are critical carbon sinks, removing 25% of atmospheric CO2 annually yet are being cut down to supply timber for our building industry. Greater Melbourne is home to 28 million trees and each year 500,000 fall in storms, are removed for safety reasons or to make way for roads and housing. These trees, including Australia's most sought-after hardwoods, are simply mulched or go to landfill.

The Victorian Government’s Circular Economy and Recycled First policies now regulate industry to reuse resources and avoid waste. Meanwhile Melbourne's 32 local governments have committed to ""The City Forest"" plan, doubling the city’s tree cover by 2040. Integrating with arborists and Local Governments’ tree management plans, CERES will create a replicable Highest and Best Use (HABU) model to efficiently select, transport and process “waste” urban logs to a city sawmill. The project produces high-value, in-demand timber and creates circular economy employment for people seeking asylum. By reimagining where forestry happens we engage the community in our growing urban forest, use a waste timber source to reduce native logging and create circular economy employment.

Why is this solution innovative

This project creates a replicable Highest and Best Use (HABU) urban forestry model created for working with local councils, and a working urban forestry social enterprise model other organisations can replicate. The project will also contract Indigenous land management leader to incorporate their experience and approach into the project design and the HABU model with twice yearly reviews and project adjustments. 100% of profits go towards funding CERES School of Nature and Climate programs which delivers sustainability education into the community, including to school students and teachers.

This "think global, act local" sensibility is a compelling part of the project, and contributes to the proposal's simplicity and clarity. Essentially, saving trees somewhere else by harvesting and processing what would otherwise be treated as waste, right here.