If you’re an avid golfer, then look away – because you probably won’t be too keen on this idea! Nevertheless, when it comes to expanding our urban forests, golf courses seem an obvious and inevitable target. Consisting of huge areas of open green space used by a relatively small number of players, golf courses could be transformed into multi-purpose urban forests that benefit many more residents.

One such example is The City of Botany, which is currently proposing that the 18-hole Eastlakes golf course on land owned by Sydney Water be turned into 65 hectares of parkland. The mayor, Ray Kenneally, told The Sydney Morning Herald, “With urban consolidation and the desire of more and more people to live closer to the CBD, there is an increasing population that wants places to enjoy Sydney’s great beauty. The Botany wetlands are beautiful, but they are a hidden gem. They’ve been locked up inside these golf courses and inside industrial estates. We now know communities value these great ponds and lakes and the social and environmental heritage they contain, and they would love better access to them.”

In Melbourne, there are 90 golf courses in the metropolitan area, with 10 along the Yarra River alone. It’s reasonable to ask if there are better uses for these extensive areas of urban land, such as returning them to native forest or, in the least, sharing them with non-golfers via the construction of public cycling or walking trails.

Unfortunately, many courses are privately owned or under long-term leases, making this a difficult idea to action. With the importance of urban forests now clear to see though, it’s well worth considering as a means of expanding the accessibility of precious green urban spaces for the benefit of all.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.