1 July 2021

Growing a greener north and east

The North East Link Program is delivering one of the largest tree planting programs for a major transport project in Victoria.

For every tree removed to build North East Link at least 2 will be planted, helping to grow a greener north and east.

More than 30,000 trees will be planted along and near the North East Link Program keeping them as close as possible to where they have been removed. We’ll also be planting trees to shade and cool places nearby like local parks, nature reserves and walking and cycling paths.

North East Link will finally fix the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network, linking the M80 Ring Road to an upgraded Eastern Freeway.

  • 35 minutes slashed from travel times between Melbourne’s north-east and east/south-east.
  • 15,000 trucks off local roads a day.
  • 25+ km of new or upgraded cycling and walking paths.
  • 11 km Melbourne’s first dedicated busway – faster, more frequent and reliable trips.
  • 10,000 jobs during construction.

It should be noted that this information is current at the time of publication, however changes may occur. Please visit our tree planting program page for the latest updates.

Planting early

Well before construction begins, we’ve already planted more than 775 trees in seven suburbs near North East Link.

In late 2020 we asked people to help us decide where to plant trees next. Close to 800 people from 100 suburbs took the survey.

We're now working closely with local councils to decide the next places for early tree planting.

We'll be planting trees in places that match what we heard is important to people and consider local priorities.

To read more about how we’re involving the local community in this massive tree planting program visit our tree planting webpage.

Keeping as many trees as we can

Around 16,000 trees, most along roadways, are expected to be removed to build North East Link as well as up to 52 hectares of native vegetation. Minimising these impacts is a major priority for the project.

The North East Link Project is being carefully planned, designed and managed to keep as many trees as possible. This includes minimising areas needed for construction, and putting plans in place to protect trees that can be kept in or near work sites.

Where tree removal cannot be avoided we’ll work closely with qualified ecologists and arborists to carefully plan and manage this.

A comprehensive assessment will be done to confirm the location and number of trees to be removed so they can be replaced through new planting either in the same location or nearby.

Wherever possible trees that have been removed will be re-used for landscaping and urban design, or for local community and sustainability projects.

Minimising removal of trees and native vegetation and protecting trees that can be kept during construction are part of 110 stringent requirements the project must meet that were set through the Environment Effects Statement (EES) and planning approvals process. The EES process for North East Link is the most extensive ever undertaken.

Making what we plant count

We’re not just counting how many trees go in the ground, we’re counting what they do. The North East Link Program will achieve a net gain in tree canopy cover by 2045.

Tree canopy is what you see when you look up – the cover from branches and leaves. Over time, trees planted for North East Link will grow to provide more of this cover than has been removed – helping to create a greener north and east. Tree canopy is crucial to help cool our neighbourhoods in summer, provide shade from the sun, create habitat for native animals and support cleaner air and waterways.

Where we’re planting

From talking to the community for the past 4 years, we know how important trees are to people. They’re important to us too.

As well as keeping as many trees as we can while we build North East Link, we’ll plant as many as possible as close to where they have been removed. We’ll also plant trees to shade and cool local areas nearby.

Tree planting priority 1

Along and near North East Link as close as possible to where trees have been removed for construction.

These trees will mostly help create green buffers between homes, noise walls and roads and to shade new or upgraded walking and cycling paths.

When we’re planting

Once construction in the area is finished, or the trees can be protected from works.

Tree planting priority 2

As close to construction areas as possible, ideally within 400m.

These trees will help keep the benefits of new planting as close as possible to where trees have been removed. Trees planted near construction areas will mostly enhance existing parks, walking and cycling paths, nature reserves and community facilities.

When we’re planting

Starting now.

Tree planting priority 3

Across the 6 council areas the project passes through – Banyule, Nillumbik, Manningham, Boroondara, Whitehorse and Yarra.

These trees will help improve the look and feel of local areas, enhance wildlife habitat and corridors and contribute to a healthier, better connected urban forest. We'll be guided by councils and local needs.

When we’re planting

Starting now.


We’re starting to plant trees in places near North East Link now so the benefits can be felt as soon as possible.


We’ll start planting trees in areas used for construction once works are finished, or when the trees can be protected.

Partnering with local nurseries and social enterprises

Dozens of local nurseries and social enterprises have registered their interest in being part of North East Link’s tree planting program.

We’ll be working to buy trees and plants from as many of these businesses as possible, as well as procuring a wide range of landscaping and maintenance services – helping to support local businesses, jobs and communities as we grow a greener north and east.

Significant trees and plants

We’re working to ensure the number of significant trees and shrubs are increased.

Studley Park Gum trees

The Studley Park Gum is a hybrid of the River Red Gum and Swamp Gum and significant for Victoria. We expect up to 52 may be impacted by construction of North East Link. Each tree removed will be replaced by two – ensuring an increase in the local population.

Specialists started collecting seeds from these trees in 2020, ready for planting to start in 2021 well before major construction begins.

To ensure the 2:1 replacement goal will be met, more than 300 juvenile trees have been grown at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and planted along the banks of the Yarra River in Templestowe and Lower Plenty.

Matted Flax-lily

Construction of the North East Link Project is expected to require the removal of up to 139 Matted Flax-lily plants, mostly at Simpson Barracks.

We’ve already started salvaging these plants so they can be divided and propagated in a specialist nursery, before being planted in a suitable location in the local area.

We’ll be growing multiple ramets (clones) from each plant/patch and use multiple sites for planting – making an overall increase in the population likely.

Historic River Red Gum

We've heard what the community has had to say about the River Red Gum on Bridge Street, Bulleen next to the Caltex Service Station site.

Builders working on final designs for the project will make every effort to preserve the tree, which is estimated to be 300 years old. However, this is among the most challenging areas of the project. It's near entry and exit points for the twin tunnels that will pass under the Yarra River and protect sensitive environmental and residential areas.

We know this tree has great significance to the community and are working to ensure we can grow new trees from its seeds if needed.

Extra conditions for native vegetation

As well as planting new trees to replace the canopy cover lost from removing native vegetation, we’ll be purchasing and protecting equivalent areas elsewhere in Victoria.

The offsets will need to meet Victorian guidelines and be in place before trees can be removed in that area.

Looking after wildlife

Qualified wildlife ecologists will inspect all trees and vegetation prior to removal and handlers will safely relocate any wildlife to a suitable habitat nearby.

It should be noted that this information is current at the time of publication, however changes may occur. Please visit our tree planting program page for the latest updates.