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