Citywide cares about creating beautiful places where humans can feel safe, healthy and happy. Today, however, our communities face a new challenge: the urban heat island effect.
During the day the frenetic activity of city life – cars, people, buildings, smog and the great Australian sunshine - create a heat-bubble over the city.
Within an urban heat island, temperatures rise and city infrastructure and community members are affected. Research by the Victorian Centre of Climate Adaptation Research shows that a number of problems occur: heat related deaths, increased use of air-conditioning, power outages, soft and sticky roads, buckling rails, increased crime rates, events are cancelled, local fauna is affected, water resources are strained and work-force productivity is reduced. The economic effects to the state are estimated to be around $300 million. On the other hand, researchers have found that one tree in the City of Melbourne can add $123 of ecosystem services per year that a 1 % increase in canopy cover can reduce mid-day temperature reductions of up to 0.2°C.
We know that people count on Citywide to solve challenges facing the community where it relates through our competences in open space, roads and waste management. In everything we do, we are always identifying new ways of getting things done. Some of our achievements to date have been: H2POD, which helps us to maintain the health of trees under heat stress, GreenPave, which is lower carbon emitting asphalt, and TRAX, which monitors the status of each asset and enables us to identify problems ahead of time.
One identified solution to the urban heat island effect is to make our cities ‘greener’ through urban reforestation. Right now Citywide is directing its thinking into how our innovation, knowledge and long-term experience in prominent gardens across major Australian cities can support urban forestation strategy development and implementation. Specifically we are developing responses in water sensitive design, species selection, asset management and maintenance optimisation, as well planting in new contexts such as urban rooves and vertical gardens.
All of these activities help to increase canopy cover and tree density to reduce the heat absorbed by infrastructure and lower the city’s temperature.
We are not alone. Recently the National Trust established a register of 25,000 trees of national importance. These trees are protected and a planning permit is required to commence works on the tree. Many of them are under Citywide’s care.
The Cities of Sydney and Melbourne are also leading the way with the establishment of policies and strategies to support urban forestation such as lighter pavements and policies to support green walls and roofs. For example:
- Pale pavement trial: Lighter pavement is currently on trial in Sydney as it does not absorb as much light when compared to darker asphalt. See the video here.
- Green Walls and Roofs: With privately owned land comprising a substantial proportion of space within the city, both face the challenge of incentivising the movement toward green cities. Green roofs and walls not only reduce the urban heat island effect but provide benefits to the consumer such as improved air quality, beauty, improved health, noise reduction, insulation, improved roof life and solar power efficiency. Here at Citywide we have the privilege of being the caretakers of Green Roofs at Prince Alfred Park Pool as part of our Open Space services delivered to City of Sydney, and the University of Melbourne green roof.
Many organisations have also joined the 202020 vision: to create 20 % more urban green spaces by 2020.
If your organisation is reviewing, planning or implementing an urban forestation strategy, why not call and speak to the experienced team at Citywide.