Friday, 12 June 2020 15:03

Greening Greater Sydney: Planting for keeps Featured

Media Release 27 May, 2020

The NSW Government’s increased investment in planting new trees across Greater Sydney is welcomed by WSROC, however planting strategies must include solid plans for watering and maintenance of trees to be effective in creating cooler suburbs.

In consultation with urban heat expert, Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, WSROC has previously identified the increase of green cover as key to creating cooler spaces[1]. However, this strategy can only be effective with planning that captures essential elements: selecting species suited to place and ensuring sustainable maintenance of plantings – including adequate access to water.

WSROC President Barry Calvert said, “Western Sydney is challenged with weathering the heaviest impacts of urban heat. WSROC’s Turn Down the Heat Strategy shows that it takes more than planting trees to get cooling benefits. What we are concerned about is whether a million trees planted by 2022 will actually be able to grow and thrive, to deliver the envisaged benefits.”

Western Sydney University urban heat expert, Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, stresses the need for urban greening strategies to include all aspects of getting trees to maturity, including species selection, time before reaching maturity, and what resources need to be in place in order to keep new trees alive.

Dr Pfautsch stated, “Native trees are great for parks and biodiversity but may not be the most effective species for cooling in urban streets and backyards. We need to ensure we are using the right species in the right locations.

“Maintenance is extremely important: can we water the new trees in summer, when we are under water restrictions? Additionally, opening up impervious surfaces on streetscapes to allow rainwater to seep into the ground would help,” said Dr Pfautsch.

Western Sydney residents experience hotter temperatures and more extreme heat days than other parts of Sydney. The number of days over 35 degrees is increasing at double the rate of the Sydney CBD, with adverse impacts of urban heat impacting health and liveability.

Clr Calvert said, “Parks and public spaces are absolutely benefiting from the Premier’s Priority of more green spaces and better tree canopy coverage. In Western Sydney, there is also the need to include well-planned new developments that factor in tree canopy on streetscapes from the outset.

“Landcare and Greening Australia will be aware of the current research and strategies required to make these plantings meaningful and enduring. Western Sydney councils welcome the opportunity to work with the NSW Government and stakeholders in whichever way we can, to reduce the impacts of extreme heat in the region,” said Clr Calvert.

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[1] WSROC Turn Down the Heat Strategy and Action Plan 2018

Last modified on Friday, 12 June 2020 15:43

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