But the most significant decline has been on private land.
The goal, Mayor Baker says, is to increase total canopy cover to 34.4 percent by 2036.
The lower north shore comes to life each November, when Jacaranda trees are in full bloom.
But while the jacaranda is a sentimental favourite, other native species with ecological benefits are also available.
“Council data shows that more than half of the North Sydney LGA is private land (58%), so it makes sense that we encourage people to plant trees on their properties,” Mayor Baker said.
Sydney’s first jacaranda was planted in the Royal Botanic Garden in the late 1850s or early 1860s. Many amateur gardeners tried to grow them at home, but most failed because the tree grows best from fresh seed, and Australia was far from South America.
Kirribilli attracts thousands of tourists each year during Jacaranda season.
In 1868 Michael Guilfoyle, horticulturalist and owner of Guilfoyle’s Exotic Nursery at Double Bay, worked out a complicated method of growing the tree from cuttings.
He soon began supplying the private gardens around Sydney.
While a spokesperson for Northern Sydney Local Health District confirmed no hospital sapling program existed on the north shore, it is possible some gifting occurred, inspired by the work of Sister Irene Haxton at her Jacaranda Maternity Hospital in Woolooware in the 1950s, whose sapling gifts for new parents contributed to the number of the trees in Sutherland Shire.