20 July 2022

We’re building North East Link – fixing the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network and delivering the biggest tree planting program for a major road project in Victoria.

We recognise green spaces, trees and the habitat they provide are important to locals. Based on community feedback, we extended the North East Link Tunnels to Watsonia – keeping more works below ground and creating more community spaces.

While most of the work to build the North East Link Tunnels will happen deep underground, we’ll still need to work at the surface to launch and retrieve the tunnel boring machines as well as build new interchanges and the ventilation structures for the tunnels.

The project has also been carefully designed to minimise acquiring homes and businesses. To do these works, some trees will need to be protected and others removed.

For every tree removed to build North East Link, at least 2 will be planted. It’s the biggest tree planting program for a major road project in Victoria.

We've started planting early – more than 1500 trees have already been planted in local streets, parks and reserves, including the first of around 1000 new trees for Simpson Barracks in Yallambie, well ahead of major tunnelling construction.

Across the entire North East Link Program, we’re delivering:

  • 50 MCGs of open space
  • 30,000+ new trees
  • 3 new wetlands
  • 2 trees for every one removed

Tree planting and revegetation

Across the entire North East Link Program, more than 30,000 new trees will be planted as part of the project design and in nearby suburbs – with early planting already well underway.

The longer tunnels and simpler interchanges mean we can return much more open, green space to the community. Once construction is complete, locals will have access to 10 hectares of new parkland and wetlands along Banyule Creek and a new Greensborough Road boulevard lined with 700 trees. We're also building 3 new wetlands along the Yarra River and Koonung Creek and a 2-hectare green bridge over Bulleen Road.

Landscaping and tree planting will focus on indigenous trees and vegetation from local regions, including fast growing native species to provide a net gain in tree canopy coverage by 2045 – helping to grow a greener north east.

We're also increasing the number of significant trees – taking seeds from Studley Park Gums to the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria for propagation to plant back into the local community. More than 300 Studley Park Gums have already been planted in Yarra River parklands, part of the 1500+ trees already planted ahead of major construction starting.

Protecting wildlife

Extensive field surveys have helped identify animals that will need to be re-homed. Before work starts, qualified ecologists and animal handlers will find and safely move animals to a similar habitat nearby.

Minimising tree and vegetation removal

Minimising tree and vegetation removal is a priority for the project and there are strict environmental performance requirements and approvals in place.

We know trees are important to the local community and have worked hard to keep and protect as many trees as possible. Extending the tunnels further south under Manningham Road in Bulleen has protected trees and open space at Banksia Park. At Winsor Reserve, Macleod and sports fields along Bulleen Road, we’ve minimised the area needed for construction to retain community spaces. We’re also maximising opportunities for new trees to be planted after construction.

We’ve established no-go zones to protect sensitive environmental areas including the Yarra River, Banyule Flats, Warringal Parklands, Bolin Bolin Billabong and the River Red Gum in Bulleen.

Extensive environmental surveys, including field studies and digital mapping, are used to determine which trees need to be protected and which trees need to be replaced through new planting. Where tree removal can’t be avoided, we’re working with qualified ecologists and arborists to plan and manage how works will take place.

To ensure trees and vegetation are correctly identified – and protected where possible – a rigorous process of fencing, flagging and final review by an expert arborist occurs before works start. Regular inspections are also undertaken by an Independent Environmental Auditor.

Repurposing trees

We’re salvaging and milling reusable timber from trees that need to be removed. We’re working with local groups, including councils and schools, to re-use timber from the project for community benefit, such as in playgrounds, parklands and habitat creation and rehabilitation.

If you’re part of a group that could use timber for local community initiatives, please get in touch.


Contact us

Please contact us if you would like this information in an accessible format. If you need assistance because of a hearing or speech impairment, please visit relayservice.gov.au

This information is current at the time of publication, however changes may occur. Please visit our website for the latest updates.