The Importance of Trees in Urban Environments

In recent years the importance of trees has become very apparent and we have seen many changes in the planning industry as a result. One such change is the introduction of the Department of Planning’s Tree Canopy Cover mapping and the implementation of the “Greening our City Program” which focuses on Urban Greening to create a sustainable, liveable and cool Greater Sydney. The program aims to increase green cover across Greater Sydney and contribute to lifting urban canopy coverage to 40% by 2036.

The objective of the program is to mitigate the impacts of urban heat and climate change through an increase in Sydney’s urban tree canopy and green cover. The focus of the program is support planting trees in areas with low canopy coverage to provide shade, reduce ambient temperatures, and combat the urban heat-island effect. The program also encourages partnerships and community engagement to promote urban greening.

Sydney may be viewed as a green city compared to some cities around the world. However increasing our tree canopy coverage is important and desperately needed in urban areas where the tree canopy cover is currently below 10%. As a result, many councils have implemented tree planting requirements within DCPs requiring a canopy tree is to be planted in the front and rear yard of each development.

The benefit of planting Trees in Urban Environments.

Trees not only look good but they play an important role in urban environments. Trees also have many benefits, including:

🌳  Climate Adaptation: Green spaces help cities become more resilient to climate challenges by providing cooling through evapotranspiration and shade, which is crucial in mitigating the urban heat island effect.

🌳  Health and Well-being: Access to green spaces is linked to better mental and physical health, which can lead to reduced healthcare costs and improved overall well-being.

🌳  Biodiversity: Urban greening can foster biodiversity, providing habitats for various species and contributing to the conservation of local flora and fauna.

🌳  Social Connection: Green areas can serve as communal spaces that promote social interaction and community engagement.

🌳  Economic Value: Greenery can increase property values and attract businesses by enhancing the aesthetic appeal of urban areas.

🌳  Environmental Benefits: Trees and plants in urban areas can improve air quality by filtering pollutants and contribute to carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate climate change.

These benefits highlight the importance of integrating green spaces into urban planning to create sustainable and liveable cities for the future.

In the development industry trees are regularly being removed to make way for infrastructure, housing and public areas. So, when you’re looking at your next development plans it’s definitely worth including trees and green spaces. Ways to do this include:

🌳    Protecting and retaining existing vegetation.

🌳    Providing replacement planting in landscape designs.

🌳    Proposing rooftop gardens.

🌳    Consider increasing permeable paving materials to allow water infiltration which supports tress and plants.

As they say “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

More information about the “Greening our City Program” can be found here.

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