Going green: Wyndham council is branching out in a new direction, with a proposal to give a free tree to new residents who move into the area.

The idea was in the council’s draft City Forest and Habitat Strategy, which has been released for public consultation.

The strategy aims to boost tree cover in the municipality and protect existing greenery. Proposed measures include planning protections for rural grasslands, a five-year planting plan and a significant tree register for Wyndham’s public realm.

Wyndham’s environment and sustainability portfolio holder Cr Heather Marcus said the council was also considering giving new residents a free tree when they moved in.

“This will work via a website, with residents able to register their intention to claim the free tree,” Cr Marcus said.

“We will make suggestions to residents on what kind of tree they should plant for their area.”

Cr Marcus said the council had set aside $5000 for the first year of the project.

She said the council was also encouraging landowners in Little River to plant more trees, primarily red gums and red box along waterways and property boundaries, to help boost declining koala numbers in the region.

Cr Marcus said a group named the Koala Clancy Foundation, which monitors koala population in the You Yangs, had found the population was declining because of drier and warmer summers.

Western Region Environment Centre director Harry van Moorst said the council’s proposed City Forest and Habitat Strategy was “a very good policy”.

“I think it’s good that a policy is generally trying to provide more greenery,” Mr van Moorst said.

“Trees, including shrubs and grasses, are also very valuable for habitats and providing a ‘carbon sink’, and we need more of them because we are losing so much as the area develops.”