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Ten years ago, the very first trees in Lucas were planted along Dyson Drive by Integra, marking the beginning of the suburb of Lucas. Since then, the Integra landscape team have gone on to plant an average of 1,000 trees each year with a current total of 9,613 trees planted, and a further 160,000+ shrubs and plants planted throughout the parks and wetlands of Lucas. It is estimated that by the time Integra has completed development at Lucas, that figure could be close to 11,000 trees, which is over 4 trees planted for every lot developed.

And with all this planting comes huge benefits for the community. As well as enhancing the area visually, trees also introduce a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits. Trees cool streets and neighbourhoods, which reduces the heat island effect and improves local microclimates. Studies have shown that greenery and trees play a really positive role in good mental health. They also work to improve air quality, sequester carbon, reduce the amount of stormwater run-off, reducing erosion and pollution in our waterways, and they are home to many species of wildlife who depend on trees for habitat, providing food and protection.

Behind the planting of all of these trees is a whole team. The process starts with the landscape architect who, working with Integra and Council, ensures tree species diversity and tree canopy coverage targets are met, as well as positioning trees to avoid underground services and provide the most benefits from a practical perspective whilst still creating visual continuity. When the site is ready, the Integra landscape team of six get to work with getting those trees and plants in the ground, watered and maintained. That is one huge job for the team, so at times they are supported by Ballarat Regional Industries who plant many of the street trees. Right now, we are in the planting season with more than 1331 trees and plants to add to the already huge tally of trees and planting that has occurred in Lucas. More than 30,000 trees, shrubs, groundcovers, grasses and wetland plants were planted in the Lucas Central Park alone. In terms of lifestyle and wellbeing for our community and the health of the environment, these trees will have positive effects for more than 100 years.

In the past year, Lucas Primary school met the landscape team on site and helped to plant out 100 plants. It took close to an hour for a class of students to get those 100 plants in the ground, and the landscape team have been maintaining them since. We know we have some great young environmental advocates in Lucas and some incredible community members who go out of their way to help care for the environment and our neighbourhood. We want to say a big thank you to those people and encourage them to keep it up. They are a big part of why the parks and wetlands are so well loved, and for our team to see people taking such a keen interest in what has been created is really rewarding.

Lucas will have nearly 30 hectares of open space when it is fully developed, of which, more than 10 hectares are waterways, wetlands and open space links, as well as 15 kilometres of walking and cycling trails.

Integra has always been interested in creating communities, not just adding people to infrastructure. The scale of planting that we do isn’t unique just to Lucas. In all of our projects, we pay particular attention to the environment and how it connects to community. Each project is different and comes with its own set of opportunities, however our design principles largely remain the same. Insignia, for example, had many existing trees that we went to great lengths to maintain and protect – in fact, the whole project was designed around them! The resulting neighbourhood has a great mix of new and existing trees, habitat areas, wetlands for water quality treatment and parklands… and it is a great place to live.

Tree planting is one of the simplest and most effective ways of helping to tackle climate change caused by greenhouse gases. As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide – a major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere – and produce oxygen, which is essential for all life on earth.

By planting and looking after trees in Lucas, we help our environment, our community and our world, by creating habitat for fauna, cooling our neighbourhoods and making them look beautiful, and reducing the impacts of climate change.  We are proud of what we have already achieved at Lucas and we strive to do more. Next time you see one of our team planting or watering a tree, say “hello”!