Canberra’s status as the bush capital has been reconfirmed by a recent study of urban tree cover in Australia.
The study by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) assessed the proportion of land cover types (hard surface, tree, shrub and grass/bare ground) for 16 Australian cities. The ACT Local Government Area had the highest proportion of tree cover with 56%. Grass and bare ground accounted for a further 33%, shrubs 6% and hard surface for the remaining 5%.
Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell, said urban trees played an important role in moderating microclimates within the city and would become increasingly important as part of the city’s green infrastructure as we adapted to climate change.
“Street trees provide shade and shelter for houses and reduce the need to turn on air conditioners. They also improve the connectivity of native habitat which is an important factor in enhancing the biodiversity values of our urban areas,” Mr Corbell said.
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In addition to treed landscapes, Canberra also has important areas of native grassland and urban open space that contribute to biodiversity and reduce urban heat island effects.
“Parks, gardens, nature reserves, and vegetated open space in urban areas are important for biodiversity, community health and wellbeing, and in helping the city adjust to a changing climate.”
The study highlighted wide variations in tree canopy cover across the city of Canberra. North Canberra had the highest urban tree cover (50%), while Weston Creek-Stromlo had the lowest (10%).
The UTS study was commissioned by 202020 Vision, an initiative of Nursery and Garden Industry Australia, whose mission is a 20 percent increase of green spaces in urban areas by 2020.
The 202020 Vision report “Where Are All the Trees? An Analysis of Urban Tree Canopy Cover in Australia”and the UTS report “Benchmarking Australia’s Urban Tree Canopy” can be found at http://202020vision.com.au/research/.
(Media Release Simon Corbell)