Aussie Trees Declining - Report
17 July 2014 at 10:26 am
Australia is losing its trees, according to new research conducted by University of Technology, Sydney on behalf of a collaboration of community groups, businesses and governments.
The report, called Where Are All The Trees, reveals that urban green space throughout Australia is in decline.
However it found that Hobart, Brisbane and Darwin’s central business district councils are the leading cities in urban greening, with the highest percentage of tree canopy cover compared to our two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
The report was commissioned by 202020 Vision – a collaborative initiative between business, governments and community groups to increase green space in urban areas by 20 per cent by 2020.
It analyses tree canopy cover in Australia’s most urban, dense, local government areas (LGAs).
The report says it shows that the complexities and barriers in addressing increased greenery are wide-ranging, but do not mitigate the urgency and importance to see more tree canopy in many of Australia’s key urban areas.
The research found that Hobart, Brisbane and Darwin’s central business district councils lead the country’s cities in urban greening, with the highest percentage of tree canopy cover compared to our two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne
“No one has ever before conducted a national analysis that has tracked and measured the number of trees in Australia’s most dense urban areas which makes this report significant,” Research and Market Development Manager, National Urban Forest Alliance (NUFA), Dr Anthony Kachenko, said.
“Why should we care how many trees there are? “Because trees and urban green space have the unique ability to improve our environment, save lives, mitigate the risks of climate change, and provide significant cost savings across our economy.
“Currently businesses and governments across all levels are looking to mitigate the critical effects and costs of significant changes to the climate, lowered productivity, environmental degradation and ill-health, such as obesity and mental illness. There is not one single Australian that would not be touched by one of these factors, and whilst it appears simple and perhaps unimportant, urban greening is a crucial tool in the kit we need to find long-term solutions.
“Extensive global research shows maintaining and increasing, high-quality green space in cities has a wide range of improvements to our environment, productivity and society. Benefits such as reduced pollution, improved air quality, decreased utility costs, more efficient water management, increased commercial productivity, better health and wellbeing outcomes, and more cohesive community spaces.
“This report tells a story of hugely complex planning, geographical and climate-related factors that challenge councils, business and communities in this sector everyday,” Dr Kachenko said.
The report, conducted by UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), lead by Dr Brent Jacobs, used a software program called i-Tree Canopy to analyse the amount of tree canopy cover in 139 of Australia’s most urban LGAs, which are home to 68 per cent of the population.
It found that beyond Australia’s CBD council areas, the areas that demonstrated the highest amount of tree canopy cover were Cairns, Launceston and Townsville.
Conversely the report also looked at grass and bare ground coverage such as; lawns, industrial estates and sporting grounds, and hard surfaces such as; buildings, asphalt, water and coastlines.
“These findings show where there are possibly significant opportunities for councils to turn older industrial areas into community parklands, and or green rooftops of buildings,” Dr Kachenko said.
“The reality, for a number of these councils with the least amount of tree canopy cover, is there may already be strategies in place to develop and increase it, but the report and i-Tree Canopy software can be utilised for free by anyone wishing to understand tree canopy cover more deeply.”
For a copy of the full report, go to http://202020vision.com.au/trees