Make Cities Greener and Cooler: Australia to set goals for increasing Urban Tree Canopy
Government’s Plan to Make Cities Cooler and Greener
In January 2016, the Australian federal government announced it will establish goals for increasing the urban tree canopy cover in Australia’s cities, in an effort to reduce the heat island effect.
In a speech made to the Sydney Business Chamber, the Minister for Environment and Acting Minister for Cities, Greg Hunt, said, “We will work with Australian cities to set decade by decade goals out to 2050 for increased overall tree coverage.”
“Green cities — cities with high levels of trees, foliage and green spaces — provide enormous benefits to their residents. Increasing urban canopy coverage decreases heat, which improves health and quality of life.”
In his speech, he emphasised the susceptibility to extreme heat of people living in large cities. Urban development pressures can lead to treeless streets that amplify the “heat island” effect on hot days.
As well as decade-by-decade goals to develop urban canopies, the government will “look at building rooftops with green cover,” the Minister said.
Improving the Liveability of Cities
“We have a very strong position on the provision of green infrastructure in our cities,” Bennett told ArchitectureAU. “It’s about more than just putting trees in the ground. It’s about creating great streets, creating a healthy city, driving less, reducing congestion, and creating beautiful parks and gardens that are well designed.”
“It’s also about things like the urban heat island effect and how we can use landscape elements such as green roofs, green walls, climatic tree planting that helps offset the increased heat you get from lots of concrete, steel and reflective glass,” Bennett continued.
Urban Canopy Initiatives in Australia
A number of Australian cities already have plans to increase urban canopy cover in place.
The City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy, which aims to increase canopy cover to 40 percent by 2040 was recognized with the Victorian Medal for Landscape Architecture from the Victorian chapter of AILA in 2014.
The Sydney Green Grid project promotes the creation of green spaces connected with urban areas.