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/

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

Ballarat seeks community input on urban forest strategy

Ballarat Centenary Hotel

The City of Ballarat has released a discussion paper highlighting the key priorities and challenges of its urban forest strategy, and is now seeking community input to form part of its final action plan. Adopted in mid 2015, the strategy outlines plans to increase tree canopy coverage across the city from an estimated 17 per cent to 40 percent by 2040.

Mayor Samantha McIntosh said while the urban forest strategy presented council with “a number of issues and challenges”, there were also “some great outcomes” that could be achieved, including economical, mental, physical, and emotional benefits. “Having worked in real estate, I know that property values are absolutely increased in the streets that have those wonderful tree canopies,” Cr McIntosh said. “But it is also about health and wellness, and providing plenty of shade, where people like the elderly will benefit.”

Cr McIntosh believes the 2040 target of 40 per cent canopy coverage is achieveable, pointing out some CBD areas have already achieved 36 per cent coverage. The discussion paper is about prompting the next stage of action, encouraging public response and suggestions.

“We’re not saying we have all the answers,” she said. “Heritage and green space are very important to the people of Ballarat, we want to continue that conversation and ensure the public is involved.”

Read the paper here or discover more about innovative solutions for urban trees here.

Source: https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/4544393/call-for-urban-forest-input/

Image credit: The former Centenary Hotel at Ballarat, Australia – by Mattinbgn

Should Australian golf courses be turned into urban forests?

urban forests

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.

Sources:

https://www.crikey.com.au/2016/08/03/melbourne-golf-courses-turned-urban-forests/

Urban Forest a Priority in Charlotte, NC

urban forestry in Chorlotte NC

Urban Forest a Priority in Charlotte, NC:

Nestled in Mecklenberg County is the charming city of Charlotte, North Carolina, and nestled between all of the new and historical architecture is a strong, ever growing urban forest.

As boasted on the City of Charlotte’s website, “Charlotte is nationally recognized for its  extensive, diverse and healthy tree canopy. For more than 30 years, Charlotte citizens and government agencies have chosen to protect and preserve trees in our community.”

The boasts, though, are backed up by leafy green facts. In 2012, the National Recreation and Park Association awarded the National Gold Medal Award, and the teams that make up The City Arborist and The Urban Forestry oversee the protection, planting, and maintenance of trees. Charlotte is logged at 46% with over 200 species of trees, and an encouraging ration of one tree for every seven residents.

It’s clear that Charlotte holds a certain amount of pride and motivation in maintaining and improving the health of their canopy. One way they bring the city dwellers into an active role is good old fashioned awards.

“The Charlotte Tree Advisory Commission, on behalf of The Mayor and City Council, annually presents Charlotte’s Crown Tree Awards in four different categories.  These awards recognize excellence in tree preservation, tree planting, and tree advisory.  To be eligible, the site must have been complete for one year.”

Further, Charlotte maintains its position in the top ranks of cities with urban forests. Recently completed in December of 2015, Charlotte has made available to the public First Ward Park. First Ward is a 4 acre park of former nestled, “between the ImaginOn library and UNC Charlotte’s uptown campus, [and] is expected to anchor a major redevelopment of the area, much of which is still surface parking owned by Levine Properties.”

Just as in so many other urban forests, the benefits of a strong urban forest bring huge returns to Charlotte’s infrastructure, and has provided this charmed city , “… with $2.76 million in benefits. In addition, Charlotte’s trees provide more than $900,000 in energy savings annually and $2.1 million in stormwater controls.”

The results in Charlotte are inarguable and compelling models for other city’s urban forestry efforts.

photo coutesy of . fortibus

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