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/

U.S. non-profit generates private funding for urban trees

Washington Park Arboretum

Despite evidence that urban trees offer a diverse range of benefits – from improving air and water quality to reducing energy costs, improving human health, and even storing carbon – they are disappearing at an alarming rate from cities across the U.S.

A recent paper by two Forest Service scientists reports that 36 millions trees are lost each year in U.S. metropolitan areas. The reasons are largely financial, with many municipalities unable to find enough money to finance green projects. It’s been reported there’s a growing recognition of the inequity of tree-canopy distribution in U.S cities, with vast cover in wealthy areas and far fewer trees in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Add to this the difficulties posed by drought and increased temperatures due to climate change, and it’s clear to see why urban trees are suffering.

However, good news is on the horizon. To help find more funding for urban trees, some local governments, including Austin, Texas, and King County, Washington are running pilot projects with a non-profit organisation called City Forest Credits (CFC) in Seattle. The projects are generating funding for city tree canopies from private companies and individuals who wish to offset their carbon emissions. These companies and individuals buy credits for tree planting or preservation, contributing to greener urban environments.

The credits generated from these projects “are specifically catered to the urban environment and the unique challenges and possibilities there, so they differ from traditional carbon credits,” said Ian Leahy, a member of the CFC protocol board, and Director of Urban Forestry Programs at American Forests – a non-profit conservation group.

Zach Baumer, Climate Program Manager for the City of Austin, and fellow member of the CFC board, said, “I think the work is innovative and potentially game-changing. To harness the market to create environmental benefits in cities is a great thing.”

To be eligible for new carbon credits, city tree projects must follow official procedures for urban forests. These include rules covering specific factors like the location and duration of a project, and how the carbon will be quantified.

Source: https://grist.org/article/carbon-offsets-for-urban-trees-are-on-the-horizon/

How Understanding Soils and Watering Can Prevent Street Tree Failure

A new video released by Citygreen demonstrates the importance of understanding soils and watering to prevent street tree failure. Citygreen Consultant, Nathaniel Hardy, visits a stressed street tree located in the dry climate of the ACT. Despite being irrigated with a suitably large volume of water, the tree is lacking outer foliage with bare, dead branches clearly visible. So, why is the tree failing to thrive despite receiving the required volume of water?

Nathaniel draws attention to the finely-textured, clay-filled soil in the rectangular garden bed surrounding the tree. A circular mulch ring around the tree is simply not big enough to cope with the volume of water being provided, so much of the water is escaping into the larger garden bed and then onto the surrounding pavement. Because the pavement is only slightly elevated, water does not have a sufficient opportunity to penetrate the fine soil and irrigate the roots below. Instead, we see a dry, caked soil surface which has become largely impervious to water.

As the video demonstrates, simply providing the required volume of water is not enough. Understanding the character of your soil and the runoff behaviour of water provided is integral to providing an environment in which street trees can thrive.

To find out more about Citygreen’s innovative water sensitive urban landscape solutions, visit www.citygreen.com. To speak to Citygreen about this video, email info@citygreen.com.

Urban Greening – Cooling the city one tree at a time

urban greening

City of Adelaide leads Urban Greening Program to mitigate heat island effect.

By Nathaniel Hardy | Citygreen USA – Soil and Horticultural Consultant

With a population of 1.3 million people over a 3,258 km² area, Adelaide is one of Australia’s rapidly-growing capital cities. Like many cities around the world, the City of Adelaide recognised urban heat island effect was becoming a major problem with an increasing impact on the health and wellbeing of its people. An urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities, urban heat island effect causes a range of problems, including: increased heating and cooling costs, limited outdoor recreation, poor quality of life, and heat-related mortality.

The City of Adelaide piloted an innovative Urban Greening Program, whereby they used thermal imaging and aerial heat mapping to identify areas with the hottest temperatures. This heat map was then overlayed onto a geographical map, enabling hot spots to be identified and transformed into opportunities for city greening. A plan was then created to mitigate heat island effect in these areas with an innovative curbside plantout program.

street garden

With a number of roads and city blocks identified, holes were cut in the pavement between carparks, Citygreen’s innovative Stratacell system was installed, and trees were planted – ensuring adequate space and uncompacted soil for the trees to thrive without impeding the surrounding pavement and / or infrastructure. Crucially, because curbside plantouts were implemented between car parking spots, no carparking space was lost.

urban greening

So far, numerous trees have been planted via this program, which continues to roll out across the city. Whilst it is too early to know the impact in terms of urban heat island specifically, community feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with trees beautifying previously-drab urban streets and providing the promise of future shade.

New York’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry. Showing in 10 megacities an increase in urban greening would achieve an annual half-million saving in heating and cooling costs. [1]

[1] https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/how-much-are-trees-worth-to-megacities/537972/

Should urban trees be funded as part of a city’s public health infrastructure?

city trees

A new report, released by conservation-focused non-profit The Nature Conservancy, says yes. Urban trees are proven to aid mental health, decrease obesity and other health risks, and generally make us happier. Therefore, they are an important public health asset and should be funded as such.

Robert McDonald, a lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy and co-author of the report, said, “Just like the public health sector has gotten used to thinking about walkable cities as something they need to care about, we’re advocating that they need to think about nature and parks as part of that quest.”

McDonald hopes that cities will start to integrate urban forestry into their other health, wellness, and environmental initiatives. Despite the benefits, there are multiple reasons why urban trees fall by the wayside. Primarily, it’s a process that often requires the coordination of multiple agencies – not just forestry, but other departments like transportation and water. McDonald said, “We’ve set up our cities so there’s one agency to manage trees and parks, and they don’t have a health mandate. Other agencies do care about health, but don’t have a mandate to plant trees.” McDonald says that bringing different agencies together and including nature in planning conversations is an important first step in forging that link.

Of course, the cost of trees can be a barrier, but there is evidence showing they have significant monetary value. Researchers at SUNY’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry estimated that trees in megacities carry a payoff of roughly $500 million, including half a million dollars saved in cooling costs and $11 million saved through improved storm water remediation.

“We’re trying to get people to think of street trees not just as ‘nice-to-have’ things, but as a piece of infrastructure for your city that you’d be willing to invest in with a bond just as you’d be willing to with another health or infrastructure initiative.”

Source: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/10/how-should-we-fund-urban-forestry/541833/

New study shows urban trees save $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs per year

urban trees

Urban trees – is there nothing they can’t do? As well as cleaning the air and guarding against soil erosion, they also help cities reduce costs and emissions by providing shade and blocking strong winds against buildings.

A new study from a group of USDA Forest Service scientists published in ‘Urban Forestry and Urban Greenery’ estimates the US supply of urban trees saves close to $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs (electricity and heating) each year. They also result in a cut to emissions valued at $3.9 billion annually.

The researchers wrote, “There is much literature on tree effects on building energy use, but limited estimates at the national scale. There have been national estimates of energy savings from proposed plantings of millions of trees … but none could be found estimating the effects of the current urban forest.”

The big takeaway is not just to plant more urban trees, but to plant them strategically.

According to the study, “Tree size, species (evergreen vs. deciduous), and tree distance and direction from the building all affect building energy use. While results vary by climate zone, in general, large trees to the west side of the building provide the greatest average reduction in cooling energy savings and large trees to the south side tend to lead to the greatest increase in winter energy use.”

Discover more about innovative urban tree solutions here.

Source: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/new-study-urban-trees-save-energy

Urban trees in Hobart housing developments a matter of life and death

urban trees

An Ecosystem and Resource Management Expert has said leaving space for trees in new Hobart housing developments is a matter of life and death for the city and its residents. Dr Greg Moore from the University of Melbourne told Leon Compton on 936 ABC Hobart, “We know that the presence of trees is important for the shade, the cooling. We know that there is a correlation between how long people live and the green environment in which they live.”

In fact, more Australians are at risk from death from heat-related problems than from bushfires or falling trees. Dr Moore said, “In the [Victorian] Black Saturday fires, 173 people died in the fires. But 374, more than double, died from heat-related deaths [in 2009], so you’ve got to get the balance right.”

Public planting by councils cannot provide enough canopy coverage alone, so space for trees in private gardens must be considered in housing developments.

Dr Moore said, “There’s not enough public land to provide the level of canopy, which needs to be between 30 and 35 per cent, to achieve the outcomes in terms of health, shade, cooling, and the economic benefits. You have to think about the quality of lives and the sorts of lives people living in those houses are going to have. Melbourne City Council is aiming to take its tree canopy cover from 22 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030. It’s doing that on economic and health grounds. It’s got nothing to do with feeling good about being green and leafy, it’s really hard-nosed stuff.”

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-21/room-for-trees-needed-in-tas-housing-development-plans/7864756

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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