When was the last time you stopped to appreciate Melbourne’s big green city? Take a moment to look up with Senior Park Operations Officer, Natasha Stoikos.
Natasha spent her childhood climbing and exploring trees, now she gets to coordinate our contractors to do the same.
“They’re a lot more methodical about it,” Natasha said.
“I did a lot of daydreaming and cloud watching up there, while they’re making sure our precious trees are healthy, growing free of buildings and power lines, and managing risk to our community.
“I love walking into our parks and gardens to see our tree experts swinging – safely – around in harnesses and ropes as they carry out their important work. It’s a kid’s dream career.”
Melbourne is home to almost 80,000 public trees, and we aim to plant 3000 trees every year, so there is never a shortage of work for Natasha to do.
“I work alongside more than 50 people across our ecology team, in-house arborists and contractors to help protect and enhance our urban forest.
“But my favourite part of this job is watching residents, workers and visitors enjoy all our efforts.”
During lockdowns, Natasha – who was a park ranger at the time – noticed how important our parks and gardens became for community health and wellbeing.
“I kept encountering people who had lived or worked in the city for years but had never explored our beautiful parks until their world was reduced to a five-kilometre radius.
“I still notice those same faces sitting beneath our trees on weekends and lunch breaks. It’s lovely to see.”
Between coordinating pruning, maintenance schedules and tree planting, Natasha is also responsible for collecting our tree data.
“We collect an amazing amount of detail like genus, tree age and risk factors that help us understand our urban forest and achieve our goal to increase Melbourne’s tree canopy to 40 per cent by 2040.
“We’re making great progress – trees cover 25 per cent of our city’s skyline – up from 22 per cent in 2012.”
It’s a big job keeping tabs on our city’s trees, but it’s an important one.
Combined our trees are valued at more than $800 million and provide countless benefits.
“Trees are perfect company to while away an afternoon under, but they’re also vital to our health and wellbeing, and help make us more resilient to climate change.
“They cool our city, clean our air and are sanctuaries for wildlife and insects that help enhance our city’s biodiversity.”
Our Nature in the City and Urban Forest strategies are at the heart of our plans to cultivate and protect our city’s trees. Natasha and her team are proud to be part of the team delivering on those objectives and creating a thriving and diverse city ecosystem.
“Planting season – between April and September – is one of our busiest, but it’s such rewarding work.
“People tend to think living or working in a city means being surrounded by a concrete jungle, but some of the world’s best gardens and trees can be found in cities.”
Keep an eye out for Natasha’s favourites.
“Our River Red Gums are so striking with their big limbs and towering presence in our urban realm.
“I also love the Golden Elms in Fitzroy Gardens that glimmer in the summer and early autumn.
“We’re all so focussed on what’s in front of us, but there’s a whole wonderful world up there in the treetops, if you take the time to look up.”
Learn more about our big green city.