Eco Investor September 2014


Increasing the Urban Tree Canopy

Hobart has the highest proportion of tree canopy cover - 56 per cent - to other kinds of ground cover among Australia's capital cities, while Adelaide has the lowest proportion of tree canopy at 27 per cent.

Brisbane has 43 per cent tree coverage, Sydney 36 per cent, Melbourne 34 per cent and Perth 31 per cent.

Perth has the most shrub coverage at 13 per cent and Melbourne the least at 4 per cent.

These are among the findings of a report that measured the canopy cover of urban trees in our capital cities – a key indicator of green space, and that aims to make it a little easier to increase the amount of urban green space.

The report, Where Are All The Trees: An Analysis of Tree Canopy Cover in Urban Australia, summarizes the findings of the Benchmarking Australia's Urban Tree Canopy study conducted by the 202020 Vision and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology, Sydney.

This looked at green space in 139 Local Government Areas in Australia's most densely populated cities that house 68 per cent of the country's population. This measured bare ground such as cleared road sides, industrial estates, lawns, pasture, sites cleared for development and sporting grounds; hard surfaces such as asphalt, buildings, car parks, footpaths, sandy beaches, train lines, rocky coastlines and water; trees including anything that looks like a tree from above; and shrubs such as landscaped vegetation, bushland shrubs, crops and grape vines.

Tree canopy coverage in Sydney.

Australia has areas of impressive tree canopy cover and exciting opportunities for increasing urban green space. Not only are there big differences in green cover among cities but also between local government areas (LGAs) within cities. In Sydney for example, Pittwater has 60 per cent canopy cover while Botany Bay is little above 10 per cent cover.

"LGAs with sizeable grass-bare ground and hard surface areas may have a unique opportunity to increase their respective tree canopy rates," says the report.

Areas with high ratios of grass-bare ground to tree canopy such as Wyndham in Vic, Wanneroo in WA, Gawler in SA and Camden in NSW could increase their green space by planting on vacant land.

Areas with high hard surface to tree canopy ratios such as Maribyrnong in Vic, Fremantle in WA, Holdfast Bay in SA and Rockdale in NSW could increase their tree canopy rates through urban regeneration projects.

Among regional cities, Cairns has the highest percentage of tree canopy followed by Launceston and Townsville.

The report encourages further research at the suburb level to better understand ownership and land use, who can implement further greening, the accessibility and usage of current green spaces, and correlations of tree canopy to socio-economic, health, crime and weather data.

Urban green space improves air quality, reduces stress, helps to minimize extreme weather and the impacts of climate change, increases habitats, and can boost the economy.







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