Aussie street trees keep cities cool and power bills down

Aussie Street trees

Australian summers can be devastatingly hot. As the mercury continues to rise this season, an urban greening movement is campaigning for more trees to cool the country.

Dr. Tony Matthews, Griffith University urban and environmental planner and 202020 Vision advocate knows that street trees play a vital role in reducing heat. Without trees, heat is absorbed by hard surfaces like concrete and radiated back into the air. This is commonly known as the “urban heat island effect”. That’s why he’s working with 202020 Vision – a group that includes some of Australia’s leading green space experts – to make urban spaces at least 20% greener by 2020.

However, it’s not just the cooling benefits that make street trees so vital. As Dr. Matthews explained, trees benefit resident’s health and can even boost their bank balances by reducing power bills.

“People in areas with less greenery and more housing density; their bills are going to go up,” Dr Matthews said. “So, the people who can least afford higher electricity bills ending up paying for them.”

Plus, communities with more shade from trees were more walkable, Dr Matthews said. Green spaces encouraged people to get outdoors and, in turn, contributed to social cohesion.

As for how to reach the goal of increasing Australia’s greenery by 20% by 2020, Dr Matthews said local councils had a major role to play in ensuring that trees were integral to new developments.

“Councils, through their planning [schemes], need to start insisting on tree cover and tree provision,” he said. “Once a housing estate is finished it’s up to the council to maintain and pay for trees and green space … councils are reluctant to do that [at the moment] because of the cost.”

While the cost of tree planting and maintenance may be high, the huge savings in health and wellbeing far outweigh the price, according to occupational heat stress consultant, Matt Brearley.

“There’s a lot of people exposed to the urban environment. It’s extremely important to mitigate that outdoor heat for those outdoor workers,” said Mr Brearley. “We need cooler environments in our urban settings, so workers don’t suffer heat stress.”

“A cooler environment allows a bigger window for the public to do what they want to do, whether it’s working or walking”, he added.

Lyndal Plant, an urban forester, said Australians were also prepared to pay more (3.73% to be precise) for houses on leafy streets, and even more in cities where tree cover is scarce.

“In my study, for every dollar invested in the planting and maintenance of street trees there would be a return of at least two dollars”, she said.

Canberra’s City Renewal Precinct set for a green makeover

Canberra Green makeover

Canberra’s City Renewal Authority has unveiled new plans for a greener and more people-friendly inner city. As part of its new sustainability strategy, released late in 2018, the authority has set some lofty targets to include more trees and green spaces, more energy and water efficient buildings, and a more diverse mix of housing in the City Renewal Precinct by 2025. It also aims to get people more active by making it easier to walk and cycle there.

The targets include:

  • Improving housing options for families by increasing the number of three-bedroom apartments.
  • Increasing active travel by targeting a “Walk Score” of 90+ by providing accessible community and commercial services within a 10-minute walk from anywhere in the precinct.
  • Improving energy efficiency from new buildings, with non-residential buildings to have energy performance at least 25% above code.
  • Reducing potable water demand in new developments by half, plus replacing 30% of public water with re-used storm water.
  • Minimising car ownership within the precinct by increasing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Achieving 30% tree canopy cover within the precinct, with increased greening of urban and open spaces between buildings.

Malcolm Snow, Chief Executive Officer, said the 2025 targets were designed to make Canberra more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable – and to meet the high expectations of the community.

“We share with the community a desire to create welcoming, inclusive places that value social connectedness, community health and wellbeing. Places that allow people to connect with nature, and with each other, in their everyday lives,” he said.

“Social and environmental sustainability are vital elements of our program as we implement the design-led and people-focused renewal of our city precinct.”

The strategy will be led by the authority and rolled out with support from other government agencies, private companies and community groups.

“We will implement the targets through our own capital works and land release programs and also work with developers and community groups to promote best-practice sustainability initiatives throughout the precinct”, Mr Snow said.

“We will also collaborate with the private sector wherever possible to encourage the uptake and application of sustainable development practices in new development projects.

“Achieving sustainable development will require collective urban leadership – everyone has a role to play to help create the city we all want to live in and our children to live in.”

To view the City Renewal Authority’s sustainability strategy visit: cityrenewalcbr.com.au

Darwin to increase tree canopy in response to Cyclone Marcus

Darwin to increase tree canopy in response to Cyclone Marcus

Darwin Council has set a lofty long-term goal to cover half of the CBD in natural tree canopy by 2030. The plan comes in response to a report into the aftermath of Cyclone Marcus, which claimed more than 10,000 trees in early 2018.

The report, prepared by the Tree Re-establishment Committee (TRAC), focuses on developing an urban forest management plan, and is supported by Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis.

“We want to plant as many trees as possible, create a canopy over the streets and cool down the city,” he said.

“(TRAC) had the look at the report from the cyclone … they also had a look at reports in other places where trees caused destruction and looked at which ones fell down and which ones stayed up,” he said, adding that TRAC also returned a list of 194 trees that were suitable to the local environment.

While the Mayor advised that major plans would start rolling out in early 2019, members of the local community have already embarked on replanting projects to breathe new life back into Darwin. In November 2018, one key location in each of Darwin’s council wards was targeted for a ‘replanting day’, with several replanting days scheduled since.

“The community planting days are a great way for the community to come together and help council get areas that were severely affected by Cyclone Marcus started on their recovery and bring areas back to life with new trees” said Lord Mayor Vatskalis.

He also said that, while efforts would continue well into the future, the replanting projects were a wonderful start and would allow Darwin residents to get a better understanding and appreciation of the extent of Cyclone Marcus’ damage.

“Replanting will be ongoing for many years to establish a diverse and resilient urban forest. I encourage local residents of all ages to come along and help rejuvenate these spaces.”

Sources:

https://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/darwin-council-wants-to-cover-half-of-the-cbd-with-a-natural-tree-canopy/news-story/befca4279dc16b5a48661f8ac183b6ef

https://www.ntnews.com.au/lifestyle/darwin-to-green-up-as-community-replants-trees-for-the-future/news-story/42e9d8842638b65bf815f77de37a6baf

Swinburne trials world-first urban forest management project

The sensors in the instrumented trees at CERES provide constant, real-time watering data.

Swinburne trials world-first urban forest management project

A new pilot program led by Swinburne is using water-sensor technology to better manage urban forests in Melbourne.

Dr Scott Rayburg, Swinburne Water Resources Engineering senior lecturer, and his team have joined forces with ICT International and RMIT University to install $31,000 worth of tree water sensors at CERES Community Environment Park – a not-for-profit sustainability centre located in the inner-city suburb of East Brunswick.

The sensors are designed to create stronger, healthier urban forests. They also enable park managers and members of the community to track the progress of trees via online platforms that provide real-time data on water use and water stress.

During the pilot, data will be collected via sensors attached to the trees. It will be used to determine the most suitable species for current and future climates. It will also allow forest managers to determine how much water to apply to their trees, and when.

Dr. Rayburg says, “The project is transformational. Instead of trees dying at 80 years of age because they are spending their whole lives in water stress, they’ll live to be two or three or maybe even four hundred years old. That matters because when we lose a tree in an urban landscape we lose habitat, we lose cooling, we lose a part of ourselves, and people have a really visceral connection to trees.”

He also notes that this project is the first of its kind in the world, saying “These sensors have previously been used in agriculture and plant biology, but never before in an urban forest management setting.”

The sensors are the first stage in this pioneering project, which plans to go one step further with an app that allows the trees to ‘talk’.

“The City of Melbourne has a platform called Urban Forest Visual that allows people to send an email to a tree and then somebody from the City of Melbourne responds to the email,” Dr Rayburg says. “This has been really popular, which demonstrates the desire people have to interact with nature, even in cities.”

“We want to take this to the next level; instead of a person responding, we want the tree to respond.”

The proposed app will allow members of the community to contact a tree and ask how it’s going. Using the real time watering data, the tree will send back an instant response which might confirm its feeling healthy, or even ask for some water.

The hope is that the app will get more people engaged with Melbourne’s urban forest and tree health, taking some pressure off local councils.

Main image: The sensors in the instrumented trees (as pictured) at CERES provide constant, real-time watering data.

Source: https://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2018/10/swinburne-trials-first-smart-urban-forest-management-system-.php

Did you know Melbourne has an entire map dedicated to urban trees?

Melbourne urban trees

Did you know Melbourne has an entire map dedicated to urban trees?

Contrary to many major cities, Melbourne is home to a vast array of street trees. The urban jungle that is the Melbourne CBD is lined with an actual jungle of sorts, with leafy trees and green parks populating the inner city. If you’ve ever been enchanted by Melbourne’s street trees and wondered where you can learn more about them, prepare to be captivated by an online map that’s dedicated to the city’s trees.

The Urban Forest Visual is an interactive, online map that marks every single tree in Melbourne’s key urban areas. As well as naming the genus each tree belongs to, the map also lists details about each tree’s overall health and life expectancy. For example, the map shows many healthy London plane trees located near the State Library of Victoria. However, a few blocks down at the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street, the London plane trees aren’t fairing as well.

You can use the map to look up tree data for the whole of the Melbourne CBD, as well as surrounding suburbs including Carlton, Docklands, Kensington, Parkville, Flemington and South Yarra. You can filter the map depending on whether you want to see street trees or park trees – and you can even email individual trees if you need to report something.

If you’re keen to see what the future holds for street trees in Melbourne, you can access a detailed tree planting schedule via the website. Each Urban Forest Precinct Plan includes a map showing when urban forest planting will occur in each street over the next 10 years. The tree planting roadmap shows when each street will be planted and what the scope of planting will be. In some streets, tree planting might be limited, while other streets may include intensive planting as part of a redevelopment project. Detail about the factors considered to develop the planting schedule is included in each local Precinct Plan.

Check out the tree planting schedule and find out everything you’ve always wanted to know about your favourite Melbourne street trees by visiting the Urban Forest Visual website.

 

Source: https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/news/fyi-theres-a-whole-map-of-melbourne-dedicated-to-the-citys-trees-100418

Designs for new urban park – Melbourne’s first since 1980

Designs for new urban park – Melbourne

Landscape Architects, Oculus, have designed a new urban park for Melbourne’s CBD. The proposed park, which would be Melbourne’s first new public space since the City Square in 1980, spans 1,900 square meters. It is designed to occupy the western side of Market Street in Melbourne, including 1,300 meters of space which is currently used for car parking.

The park comes as part of an agreement between the City of Melbourne and the developer of the adjoining Collins Arch – a 164 metre twin tower, colloquially named “Pantscraper”. The proposal for Pantscraper was initially rejected by the state planning minister in 2014 because it breeched rules about overshading Melbourne’s famous Yarra River. However, it was later approved when the height was reduced – and the addition of this new park was negotiated.

The City of Melbourne is currently seeking public feedback on the park, which will feature a series of large, open lawn spaces on both the Market and Collins Street sides. It will include a modern terrace with water play elements and a paved plaza on Market Street, which could be used for public events. It will also include improved pedestrian access to the tram stop on Collins Street, plus a dedicated bike lane of the eastern side of Market Street.

Claire Martin, associate director of Oculus, said the park would be an “important addition” to the Melbourne CBD. “The introduction of an open green space will help extend the urban forest for public enjoyment,” she said.

“The park design is distinctly Melbourne, drawing on the materiality and history of the surrounding CBD streets and heritage buildings, incorporating elements of bluestone and sandstone”.

“The park will feature a number of environmental and biophilic elements, including an extensive tree canopy of varying heights woven throughout the space which will help to mitigate heat, the evaporative cooling benefits of the adjacent water wall, and use of local materials and place-based references”, Claire added.

“Perennial borders been incorporated to increase biodiversity in the city, utilizing where possible locally indigenous plants that were in the area prior to settlement.”

The council’s Future Melbourne Committee unanimously endorsed the plans at a meeting on 18 September. Community consultation closes on 10 October. If approved, the park will be developed by Cbus Property and handed back to the City of Melbourne for public use once complete.

Source: https://architectureau.com/articles/oculus-designs-melbournes-first-new-urban-park-in-decades/

Green rooftop gardens encouraged by Brisbane City Council

green rooftop garden

Under proposed changes to Brisbane’s City Plan, developers will be encouraged to include green rooftop gardens and communal spaces on new residential buildings. The amended plan, which was announced by Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, cements council support for more green spaces and communal areas, particularly in apartment projects.

“These changes will allow new developments to include a rooftop communal area, without listing it as an additional storey”, Lord Mayor Quirk said.

“Council will also have the ability to ask developers to incorporate and maintain green spaces on the rooftops and walls of new apartment buildings, to support our vision of a clean, green and sustainable city”, he added.

The policy change has been supported by developers, who will no longer need to cut through red tape to include gardens in apartment projects.

Simon White, design manager of Aria Property Group, said the move “will make it easier for developers to deliver higher quality and more comfortable and useable spaces”. He added that “the roofscape of high-density buildings is a huge opportunity to deliver world-class amenity for residents”.

Under the city’s current rules, any roofed structure on an apartment complex is classified as a “storey” by council. “This means that a 10-storey apartment building with a fixed shade structure over a BBQ area or pool has been defined as 11-storeys under the City Plan”, explained Mia Hickey, principal at planning consultancy Hickey Oatley.

“If the acceptance outcome for the site’s building height is 10 storeys, this has meant that the proposal is non-compliant”, Hickey added. “To avoid this, developers have had to provide rooftops without appropriate shading to protect its residents and visitors from Brisbane’s hot climate.”

green rooftop garden - Brisbane

Brisbane rooftop development including Aria’s Melbourne residences and the Emporium hotel Southbank.

Creating green space was one of the key priorities of the “Plan Your Brisbane” campaign – a ratepayer-funded initiative by council – and Lord Mayor Quirk reinforced its importance when announcing the proposed changes.

“Brisbane is Australia’s most biodiverse capital city, with more species of native plants and wildlife than any other in Australia and new developments that incorporate greenery contribute to our vision of creating a city of urban gardens”, he said.


Source: https://theurbandeveloper.com/articles/developers-encouraged-to-incorporate-green-roofs-as-part-of-planning-changes

Australia’s first urban forestry school is coming to Melbourne

Melbourne's urban forest

The City of Melbourne has joined forces with the prestigious University of Melbourne to create a new study program on urban forestry. The inaugural Australian School of Forestry will be held from 11–16 November 2018. It is the first course of its kind in Australia – and one of few study programs in the world dedicated to understanding and preserving urban forests.

The program offers an interactive learning experience delivered by some of Australia’s leading urban forest practitioners and researchers. It will explore environmental and social issues impacting urban forests, and how cities can continue to enjoy healthy street trees in the face of increasing challenges.

In terms of delivery and structure, the program will include a combination of skills-based workshops, case studies and field visits, during which participants will be introduced to real-world challenges facing urban forestry. It is suitable for all professionals in the urban greenspace industry, community advocacy, environmental health, and policy management with a desire to develop their skills and knowledge in the multi-disciplinary field of urban forestry.

The program was introduced by Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood, who spoke about the development of program and the importance of street trees to Melbourne culture.

“Our tree-lined streets contribute enormously to Melbourne’s liveability, from providing much needed shade in summer to mitigate the urban heat island effect to helping reduce stormwater run-off and pollution. After a decade of drought and extreme heat many of our trees are in accelerated decline and we face the challenge of climate future proofing our urban canopy”, he said.

“Our dedicated Urban Forest and Ecology teams have become world leading in research, mapping and recording every tree in our municipality, developing biodiverse planting programs and building a resilient urban forest that can tolerate and continue to thrive in future climatic extremes.”

“We are excited to partner with the University of Melbourne in sharing this expertise to expand the network of urban forest experts working in government, industry and the community.”

Unlike a traditional workshop or conference, the program is expected to facilitate deep engagement around issues of urban forestry, planning and management. As University of Melbourne Associate Professor Stephen Lively said, “the urban forest is a complex and dynamic system, supported by many decision-makers, stakeholders and communities that sometimes have opposing views”.

It is wonderful to see leading academics, practitioners and policy experts coming together to share knowledge for the betterment of our built environment.

For more information on the Australian School of Urban Forestry, visit the official website.

Source: https://www.ausleisure.com.au/news/melbourne-to-host-australias-first-urban-forestry-school/

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