Six international cities with outstanding green infrastructure

Top Green cities

Six international cities with outstanding green infrastructure

Green infrastructure and urban sustainability are becoming increasingly high priorities for cities all around the world, however some are already streets ahead. Here are six of the top cities who are leading the pack.

 

  1. Singapore

Now known as one of Asia’s greenest cities, Singapore’s water supplies were once so scarce that they had to import water from Malaysia. However, Singapore has since turned things around, making two-thirds of the city’s hard surfaces rainwater catchments, which deposit water to 18 reservoirs.

Other sustainability systems include advanced water purification and recycling processes, a driverless metro and environmentally-friendly meeting venues.

 

  1. Stockholm

Stockholm in Sweden became the first European Green Capital in 2010, thanks to an administrative system that makes sustainability a priority. In Stockholm, eco-taxis get preferred placement at the front of taxi ranks, while more than 700 kilometers of bike lanes and a community bicycle rental program encourage people to cycle rather than drive.

Stockholm even has an official ‘eco-district’, located in Hammarby Sjöstad. Its goal is to halve the carbon footprint of a typical city, by providing residents with gas and electricity from renewable sources, as well as houses made from raw materials.

 

  1. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach is ranked second on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of mid-sized cities with the most buildings that also received the ENERGY STAR rating for energy efficiency.

The city has a strong focus on school-related sustainability, with the Virginia Beach public school system being the only K-12 division to receive a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, which recognises continual efforts made toward conservation.

 

  1. Portland, OR

When Portland residents voted in the 2018 midterm elections, they favoured a ballot initiative that imposed a one percent tax for large corporations. The revenue generated by this initiative will go toward supporting change minimisation strategies in the city.

Earlier in 2018, Portland also made single-family home owners responsible for disclosing their home’s energy efficiency rating (measured by a professional assessment) before putting their home on the market. This allows potential buyers to make more informed purchasing decisions, while also encouraging sellers to make their homes more sustainable.

 

  1. Boston, MA

Boston’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and the city is also working towards a zero-waste goal. The climate change plan involves planting trees to help absorb floodwaters that could result from worsening storms, plus looking at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by giving residents sustainable transportation options.

In Boston, there are nearly 200 bicycle rental stations. The city is also considering how to accommodate more electric vehicles by installing more convenient charging points.

 

  1. Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is the third most sustainable North American city, according to data published in 2017. Notable green initiatives include the Tap Map app, which helps people find places to refill their reusable water bottles. In 2015, Vancouver also banned organic materials from landfills, encouraging people to recycle their food scraps.

In terms of urban buildings, Vancouver has a particularly eco-friendly landscape and scores a higher-than-average rating for walkability. That means fewer vehicles, less pollution and a smaller carbon footprint.

Source: https://blueandgreentomorrow.com/features/6-top-notch-cities-that-got-green-infrastructure-right/

Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline

Councils tackle urban tree decline

Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline

Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council and the Waitemata District Council in New Zealand might be oceans apart, but they do share a common concern – the decline of their urban tree canopy due to growing populations and overdevelopment.

Research conducted by Greater Sydney Commission in 2017 showed that some of Sydney’s leafiest areas including Warringah, Hornsby and Willoughby have seen the highest percentage of loss in their urban tree canopy.

Similarly, Waitemata, just north of Auckland in New Zealand, has lost almost 13,000 trees between 2006 and 2016, due to increased private land ownership and high development rates. To combat the decline of their urban forests, local governments are exploring new ways to revive urban greenery in cities.

 

Auckland greening initiatives

Auckland City Council has launched a new program called ‘urban ngahere,’ meaning ‘network of trees’, which aims to increase city greenery by up to 30 per cent. The program coordinates planting initiatives with members of the local community – like schools, farmers, developers and social groups – to plant and maintain trees across Auckland. These efforts are complimented by a three-pronged strategy that includes interpreting data around tree loss, growing canopy and protecting trees from pests and diseases.

John Mauro, the council’s chief sustainability officer, said that Auckland is one of many large cities under pressure to protect trees against overdevelopment, population growth and other factors like climate change.

“A healthy urban forest enriches our communities, our local economies and our natural environment. Auckland cannot become a world-class city without a great urban forest,” he said.

“Some of the key challenges to our urban forest that we are monitoring include; population growth and urbanisation, ongoing issues with weed and pest control, diseases such as kauri dieback and myrtle rust and factors caused by climate change,” Mr Mauro said.

Another exciting initiative in New Zealand is the Million Trees project, which aims to plant one million native trees and scrubs across Auckland in three years. This partnership between Mayor Phil Goff and the New Zealand Department of Corrections has already facilitated the planting of 750,000 trees to date, with inmates managing tree planting and maintenance.

 

Sydney greening initiatives

Across the sea, the Sydney Northern Beaches’ Council has joined Auckland City Council in exploring innovative ways to counteract development and increase urban tree canopy.

Compelled by a recent population boom, the council has launched a draft Urban Tree Canopy Plan to protect tree cover in the Sydney Metropolitan area. The plan aims to ease the impacts of Sydney’s growing population by planting 5,000 new trees each year, plus introducing an offset program that will plant two new trees for every one that is removed.

Michael Regan, Northern Beaches Mayor, said the plan will be supported monitoring the tree population, and encouraging support from the Sydney community.

“The immediate focus will be on collating accurate baseline data to allow us to monitor the actions of the plan and ultimately measure how successful we are in protecting and maintaining a healthy and diverse canopy cover,” he said.

“Engaging our community in protecting and enhancing our urban trees will also be a critical factor in achieving the objectives of the Urban Tree Canopy Plan.”

Source: https://www.governmentnews.com.au/urban-forests-councils-tackle-urban-tree-decline/

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

World Forum on Urban Forests: Call for trees to shape city planning

Designs for new urban park – Melbourne

World Forum on Urban Forests: Call for trees to shape city planning

The first World Forum on Urban Forests will be held in Mantua, Italy from 28 November to 1 December 2018. This inaugural event will bring together experts from around the world – including urban foresters, arborists, planners, scientists, landscape architects and many other stakeholders – to discuss how to make cities greener, healthier and happier.

As well as launching long-term collaborations around the development of sustainable cities, the Forum will provide a perfect setting to showcase the best nature-based solutions that can be applied to urban environments. It will also be catalyst for calls to action, which have already begun in the lead up to the Forum.

Stefano Boeri, the architect behind Vertical Forests, is urging planners around the world to consider urban forestry as a core element of all city planning projects. Boeri, whose Milan-based architecture studio is making an impact in the sustainable building space, is best known for the incredible Vertical Forest project in Milan – a pair of award-winning twin towers covered in scrubs and floral plants. This project has become a model for ecological residential building, and Boeri now wants to engage all architects, designers and planners to integrate green spaces into their projects.

Boeri’s vision is for more than just sustainable architecture. It includes incorporating trees, gardens and woods as essential components for all projects. As well as providing visual beauty, urban trees bring many benefits that improve quality of life. These benefits include reducing CO2 emissions, improving air quality and protecting biodiversity.

Recent research shows that forests and trees absorb one fifth of carbon emissions produced by cities worldwide. Similarly, leaves and roots help reduce pollutants which contribute to respiratory diseases that kill 7 million people a year globally, according to the World Health Organisation. With around two thirds of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2030, now is the time to start imagining new, greener urban landscapes. Particularly since urban areas currently account for more than 70% of global greenhouse emissions, despite covering only 2% of the world’s landmass.

“If a single tree can bring great benefits to the city and its inhabitants, an urban forest can be an extraordinary help to improve the quality of health and life in a city”, Boeri says.

Boeri will be one of many experts speaking at the World Forum for Urban Forestry. For more information on the Forum, visit the official website.

City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Fund transforming concrete jungles into green oases

Melbourne skyline river

The Urban Heat Island Effect is real, with daily temperatures in Melbourne projected to rise 3.8C above existing records by the end of the century – even hitting a sweltering 50C on some days. As our cities get hotter, green spaces are becoming an increasingly-important approach to cooling our concrete jungles.

In one such initiative, the City of Melbourne is now offering predominantly ratepayer-funded grants for owners wanting to green private land. Kensington resident, Milla Mihailova, is a keen environmentalist, so when she saw an opportunity to make her apartment complex greener she jumped at the chance. With support from neighbours, residents have transformed their outdoor space with small vegetable gardens at the 45-unit complex. The design includes 1500 new plants, 34 planter boxes, stormwater harvesting and a large vertical garden which insulates adjoining apartments. After pitching the idea to the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Fund they received a $100,000 grant to be matched dollar for dollar by residents.

Milla said, “We live in a very concrete environment and living so close to the city we’re really limited in our own green spaces. To be able to get all that greenery and help the environment, it seemed like a great opportunity. I’m really excited to see it come to fruition because I think it will make such a difference to how we use our space and create more of a feeling of a neighbourly, friendly environment instead of just a passageway where people don’t really say hello.”

The City of Melbourne’s environment spokeswoman, Councillor Cathy Oke, said private property represented 73 per cent of all land in the municipality. “Encouraging greening on private property … is the next step to expanding our urban forest and increasing green space and canopy cover.”

The second round of the Urban Forest Fund will be open for applications from August 27 until October 22. Grants range from $25,000 to $500,000 which must be matched by residents. To date, the fund has received $1 million from the City of Melbourne and a $215,000 contribution from VicRoads. There are plans to grow it to a $10 million fund over the next four years through a combination of council money and contributions from organisations and individuals.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-11/urban-forest-fund-helps-green-melbourne-private-spaces/10030356

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

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

Forest cities: a greener future for pollution-plagued China

greener future for pollution plagued China

Stefano Boeri, the renowned Italian architect famous for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale skyscraper complex in Milan, has a new, greener vision for pollution-plagued China. His next project, in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, will consist of two neighbouring towers covered with 23 species of tree and more than 2500 cascading shrubs.

Currently under construction and set for completion next year, this is just the beginning of Boeri’s bold plans for China. His aim is to create ‘forest cities’ – a life-changing transformation for a country that is famous for smog and environmental destruction.

Boeri said, “We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades. We are working very seriously on designing all the different buildings. I think they will start to build at the end of this year. By 2020 we could imagine having the first forest city in China.”

His Milan-based practice claimed the buildings would suck 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide from Nanjing’s air each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen every day. “It is positive because the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen. And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”

“Two towers in a huge urban environment [such as Nanjing] is so, so small a contribution – but it is an example. We hope that this model of green architecture can be repeated and copied and replicated.”

To find out more about the latest in vertical garden technology, click here.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/17/forest-cities-radical-plan-china-air-pollution-stefano-boeri

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