8 June 2023

Made in the shade: Wagga Council planting trees to make playgrounds sun-safe havens

| Jarryd Rowley
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excavator at playground

Wagga Wagga Council has begun work to plant four trees at each of the city’s playgrounds that don’t meet the required shade coverage guidelines for adequate sun protection. Photo: Wagga Wagga City Council.

Wagga Wagga City Council has begun advanced tree planting at more than 100 playgrounds to increase the shade available at each of the parks.

About 290 trees are being planted at parks in Wagga Wagga, Galore, Brookdale, Tarcutta and Mangoplah.

According to the Greater Southern Area Health Service: “The melanoma age-specific incidence rates in Australia are the highest in the world, which is largely attributed to elevated levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation combined with a high proportion of the nation having sensitive skin.”

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The tree-planting initiative aims to provide shade to 80 per cent of each park following consultation with the Cancer Council midway through 2022.

The cancer awareness organisation advised WWCC that the amount of shade required for adequate sun safety at playgrounds should be at least 40 per cent, with an aim of 80 per cent.

Wagga Council’s review of its Playground Strategy 2016-2036 saw that a majority of playgrounds in the area fall well short of the recommended 80 per cent shade coverage.

Of WWCC’s 100 recognised playgrounds, only 19 have shade that covers all play equipment, 29 have partial shade covering, 34 have minimal shade covering and 29 have no shade covering.

Following the review in March last year, the city council agreed to endorse the planting of four advanced trees at each playground while also allocating funding for the next six financial years, inclusive of 2022/23, for the installation of two shade structures a year over playgrounds that do not have 40 per cent cover.

The estimated cost to plant four advanced trees at all 100 playgrounds is $152,400. The figure included mulch, growing mix and protective cages for the trees.

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Wagga Council works and playground officer John Conlan said now was the time to plant the trees.

“The autumn months are a good time to plant trees as they have more chance of adapting to their new location during the cooler weather,” Mr Conlan said.

“Advanced deciduous and native trees [those already two to four metres tall] are being planted so they will offer shade sooner [in five to 10 years].

“Deciduous trees are being predominantly planted as they provide shade during the warmer months and allow sunlight to penetrate during the cooler months.

“Some playgrounds will have native trees planted where it best suits the existing environment.”

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Great!! But also Wagga’s playgrounds need more toddler friendly features such as tunnels for them to practice crawling and swings with harnesses. A lot of the swings in the city too are facing the direction where the child has the sun directly in their face!

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