GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN AUSTRALIA: Two years after launching the award-winning Cool Streets project in Sydney’s Blacktown, landscape architect Libby Gallagher remains a staunch advocate for the role that street trees play in mitigating the impacts of climate change and making better cities

Libby Gallagher advocates for street designs that prioritise social and environmental function

Why Streets Need Trees

“I’d been in practice for close to 15 years and noticed that the street environment was the one area that was incredibly difficult to get traction in. Landscape architects were producing great ideas, but most decisions were made based on engineering criteria related to vehicular traffic, so it was death by a thousand cuts and those ideas were slowly whittled away,” stated Libby Gallagher, a landscape architect with experience on a diverse range of public, mixed use and private projects in Australia.

“I wanted to find ways to re-evaluate the role of these environments within our cities, economically, environmentally and socially. Over the last decade there’s been a real push back against the idea that functional requirements are the only driver for streetscape design.

“Streets are deeply social spaces. But despite there being a growing discussion about sustainability in street environments, there has been no metrics to measure it.”

“I undertook detailed climate modelling related to all the components of the street – materials, finishes, street layouts – in order to find out what a sustainable street would look like.”

Cool Streets

Cool Streets is an initiative to empower communities to cool the planet, one street at a time. Cool Streets combines scientific research and public engagement, working with local communities.

The initiative grew out of Dr. Libby Gallagher’ research into the potential of streets to tackle climate change.

Houses in Australia are getting bigger and gardens are getting smaller. Cool Streets offer the best opportunity to increase tree canopy cover to combat climate change, says Dr. Libby Gallagher.

To Learn More:

To read the complete interview, download Why streets need trees: in conversation with Libby Gallagher