New “Sydney Modern” gallery plans updated to prioritise green space

Sydney green space

Modifications will be made to the Art Gallery of NSW’s new “Sydney Modern” wing after two thirds of public submissions to Planning NSW criticised the design. The most notable criticism of the planned $344 million development was the lack of trees and open green space.

The modern wing – a series of pavilions to be built on the hill to the north east of the existing gallery opposite the Botanical Gardens – will now also feature natural stone cladding to complement the Sydney sandstone of the existing 1909 Walter Liberty Vernon gallery building and make the new wing less conspicuous.

Concerns raised by nearly 200 people and organisations attacked the loss of open green space in the city as something that could not be reversed. In a submission, the Eastwood Evening Garden Club said a meeting of its 100 members had decided to oppose the expansion because of the destruction of trees and open space. At a time of global warming, green areas needed to be protected without “adding to our increasing ‘cement city’,” it said.

The gallery’s revised proposal will covert parking spaces into open space, create more green roof space and feature a central public lawn in a proposed Art Garden. The gallery also promised to remove only 124 trees (versus 141) and plant 273 new trees, including more mature specimens.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/art-gallery-s-sydney-modern-adds-trees-open-space-and-softens-look-to-address-critics-20180424-p4zben.html

Shepparton Urban Forest Strategy aims to reduce tree vandalism

tree vandalism

Greater Shepparton City Council is planning to plant 1500 trees each year as part of its urban forest strategy. Frustratingly, each year 60 to 80 trees in Shepparton are vandalised – about 5% of all new tree plantings. These senseless acts of destruction are costing the council between $15000 and $20000 a year.

Heath Chasemore, council’s Park, Sport and Recreation Manager, said street trees cost $250 to replace – including maintenance to establish the trees. In CBD locations, costs are even more with more advanced tree stock required, services and other infrastructure to work around.

Disappointingly, a second wilga tree was recently damaged along Vaughan St, Shepparton – the second incident of damage to trees in this shopping precinct.

Chasemore said, “We do lose a small percentage of trees to vandalism each year — roughly five per cent. This behaviour by a limited number of individuals shows little or no regard for our community and is extremely disappointing.

“Wilga trees are hard to propagate and slow growing, however we have had great success with this species in our Vaughan St precinct, where they have prospered and provide great aesthetic appeal to the streetscape as part of our urban forest strategy. The cost of replacing trees and dealing with senseless vandalism ultimately is borne by the ratepayers.’’

It is hoped the urban forest strategy will increase awareness of the benefits of urban trees and reduce the rate of vandalism.

Source: http://www.sheppnews.com.au/2018/01/10/126850/leave-street-trees-alone

World’s first vertical forest for low-income housing coming to the Netherlands

Stefano Boeri Architetti Eindhoven Trudo Tower facade
© Stefano Boeri Architetti

Stefano Boeri is famous for his vertical forests around the globe, but his latest project will be the first forest tower funded by a social housing project to provide low-income housing. The Trudo Vertical Forest, located in Eindhoven, will showcase how good architecture can tackle both climate change and urban housing issues.

The tower will consist of 19 stories with 125 units – all covered in a luscious vertical forest featuring 125 trees and 5200 plants. The 246-foot tower will be covered in a rich, biodiverse environment to help control urban pollution and provide homes for a variety of animals and insects.

Boeri said, “The high-rise building of Eindhoven confirms that it is possible to combine the great challenges of climate change with those of housing shortages. Urban forestry is not only necessary to improve the environment of the world’s cities but also an opportunity to improve the living conditions of less fortunate city dwellers.”

Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Project Director of Stefano Boeri Architetti, said, “The Trudo Vertical Forest sets new living standards. Each apartment will have a surface area of under 50 square meters and the exclusive benefit of 1 tree, 20 shrubs and over 4 square meters of terrace. Thanks to the use of prefabrication, the rationalization of technical solutions for the facade, and the consequent optimization of resources, this will be the first Vertical Forest prototype destined for social housing.”

Source: https://inhabitat.com/the-worlds-first-vertical-forest-for-low-income-housing-is-coming-to-the-netherlands/

Forget the beach – go somewhere green for ultimate relaxation

Cornmeal Parade

In the land Down Under, we’re currently in the thick of a long, hot summer. Most of us spend our spare time during this season at the beach. But, what if there was another destination that offered even greater relaxation? Somewhere less busy, searing, and sandy? Somewhere green, of course. In Australia, we’re lucky to have more than 500 national parks – wild, rejuvenating, and free for all.

Lord knows we need a little relaxation. According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey completed in 2007, one in five Australians experiences a mental disorder each year. Most common are anxiety disorders, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, or panic disorder.

Thankfully, there is a relatively simple salve with more than 40 years of research showing that exposure to nature increases calm, decreases agitation, and improves concentration and creative thought. Writer and I Quit Sugar dynamo, Sarah Wilson, is renowned for her solo hikes – jumping on a train to a national park somewhere out of town and disappearing into the wild for days at a time. She says she returns settled, sated, and full of creative ideas.

Of course, when we’re not on holidays, it’s not always possible to plant ourselves in a national park. In this sense, urban greenery is more important than ever before.

Zoe Myers, an Urban Design Specialist at the University of Western Australia, says research shows that city dwellers have a 20% higher chance of suffering anxiety and an almost 40% higher chance of developing depression. Fortunately, research also shows that people in urban areas who live closest to the greatest green space are much less likely to suffer poor mental health.

The benefits of urban greening are endless – cooler cities in summer, warmer cities in winter, slower stormwater runoff, filtering of air pollution, habitat for animals, happier people, and more prosperous local economies. If you can, take a trip to a national park and soak in the natural goodness. But, when you’re back at work, don’t forget to take lunch in the park – toes in the grass, breeze in your hair, eyes on the branches above.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/keep-calm-reasons-to-head-for-the-park-not-the-beach-20171223-h09pzg.html

Time to take action on green roof policy in Sydney

Sydney urban area

One thing is certain as we look to the year ahead – it’s going to be HOT. In the first week of 2018, Sydney scorched with 40 degree temperatures and nearby Penrith was the hottest place on earth, hitting a searing 47.3 degrees.

As Sydney’s building boom rages on, never before has the need for green infrastructure with an emphasis on sustainable cooling been so important. With more apartment buildings and concrete streetscapes likely to increase the urban heat island effect, these same apartment buildings hold the key to a much-needed cooling innovation.

Architecture and sustainability experts say there is an unprecedented opportunity to harness the ever-expanding rooftop coverage by making green roofs and walls a standard feature on new residential and commercial buildings. Scientific research has repeatedly recognised the insulation benefits of living infrastructure in reducing energy consumption in summer and winter.

However, the lack of proactive policies mean this opportunity is quickly slipping through the fingers of government, councils, and residents alike. In the City of Sydney, the only NSW council that has a specific policy on green roofs and walls, there are just 53 green roofs, which equates to less than 1% of the total available roof space. A waste indeed.

At a policy-level, Sydney lags well behind other, denser cities such as Singapore, London, Stockholm, and Toronto when it comes to promoting the installation of green roofs and walls. Sara Wilkinson, from the UTS school of Built Environment, said about 32% of horizontal surfaces in Sydney are rooftops, but the potential has remained largely untapped. “Greening them really does make a change to heat stress and your urban environment. We are missing an opportunity to create a beautiful garden city.”

Let’s hope we can emulate places like Singapore where the uptake of green roofs has boomed by more than 800% in the past decade, with 80.5 hectares of skyrise greenery across 182 projects. Our environment, wellbeing, and wallets depend on it.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/missed-opportunity-for-green-roofs-as-sydneys-apartment-boom-continues-20180118-h0k8pu.html

New study: plant 20% more urban trees and double the benefits

urban forest

A study in Ecological Modelling, conducted by Parthenope University of Naples in Italy, has found that planting just 20% more trees in our megacities would double the benefits of urban forests, including pollution reduction, carbon sequestration, and energy reduction. Authors of the study say city planners, residents, and other stakeholders should increasing the nature in our urban areas by planting more trees.

Nearly 10% of the world’s population live in megacities – that is, cities of at least 10 million people. For these people, urban forests are paramount to physical and mental wellbeing and economic prosperity. Examples of urban forests in megacities include Central Park in New York, St James’ Park in London, and Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City.

In the study, the team used a tool called i-Tree Canopy to estimate the current tree coverage in cities and the potential for more urban forest cover, and worked out the benefits that would bring. They estimated the current tree cover in ten megacities in five continents, looked at the benefits of urban forests – including removing pollution from the air, saving energy, and providing food – and approximated the current value of those benefits at over $500 million per year.

Theodore Endreny, Ph.D., PH, PE, lead author of the paper and now professor of the Department of Environmental Resources Engineering at the State University of New York ESF campus, said, “By cultivating the trees within the city, residents and visitors get direct benefits. They’re getting an immediate cleansing of the air that’s around them. They’re getting that direct cooling from the tree, and even food and other products. There’s potential to increase the coverage of urban forests in our megacities, and that would make them more sustainable, better places to live.”

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180118162455.htm

Removal of Hoddle Street trees follows disturbing trend

Hoodle street trees

Roadworks on Melbourne’s notoriously congested Hoddle Street aren’t just proving a nightmare for commuters, but also for some of Melbourne’s mature street trees. Local residents and a tree expert have condemned the felling of 16 mature plane trees, with more to go to make way for the roadworks.

VicRoads Acting Project Director, Catherine Gunn, said, “The decision to remove trees from Hoddle Street was made following detailed investigation and careful consideration and we continue to work hard to minimise our impact on the local environment.”

But, others are not convinced with Paul Collins, a local publisher, saying, “It’s quite saddening to see trees going, to be replaced with a lane that is going to get everybody down to the next traffic jam, two minutes faster.” Many agree, saying in such a concentrated urban area every tree is precious.

Many trees have been lost in Melbourne in recent times, including 400 for water pipe works along St Georges Road, Northcote. The West Gate Tunnel project could see the loss of almost 750 trees and more than 100 will be removed for the Metro Tunnel project.

Dr Greg Moore, the chair of the National Trust of Victoria’s Register of Significant Trees, said, “That section of Hoddle street is pretty wide, has lots of bitumen, but those trees did provide a bit of relief, particularly on a hot day. The problem of all these tree removals is that inch by inch we’re losing more and more of the tree cover that Melburnians have taken for granted. You start nibbling away at your urban tree population, and it’s possible that you lose a whole forest, simply by removing one tree at a time.”

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/hoddle-street-locals-appalled-as-trees-chopped-down-for-roadworks-20180110-h0gfmu.html

Urban trees are growing faster than rural ones – but is that a good thing?

urban trees are growing faster

A newly published study, completed by researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Munich (TUM), concluded that urban trees can grow up to 25% faster than their rural counterparts. You’d think that’s a good thing, right?

Unfortunately, wrong. Per the study, the fast growth rate of urban trees is believed to be a direct result of climate change – specifically the heat island effect (HIE). HIE is an urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities and causes a range of problems, including: increased heating and cooling costs, limited outdoor recreation, poor quality of life, and heat-related mortality.

In urban heat islands, higher-than-normal temperatures boost photosynthesis which cause trees and other forms of vegetation to grow faster. Sounds great, but the very temperatures that are causing urban trees to grow fast are also causing their early demise.

While findings vary within different climate zones, the research concludes that urban trees must be treated with extra care and consideration in light of this accelerated aging process, ensuring they can last the distance and continue to provide the many benefits that they deliver.

Source: https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/urban-trees-growing-faster-rural-trees

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