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Greening cities enhances health and liveability 17/06/2017

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recognises that while cities can pose environmental challenges, they can also be the catalyst for environmental policy solutions.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recognises that while cities can pose environmental challenges, they can also be the catalyst for environmental policy solutions.

The OECD said that “cities can deliver cost-effective policy responses to global economic and environmental challenges simultaneously, addressing climate change while striving to achieve green growth”. An important aspect of developing ‘greener’ cities is encouraging the planting and retention of trees in urban areas. In fact, there is a growing movement toward the growth of urban forests in many places around the world.

While the term forestry may have traditionally been considered in the context of regional areas, there are many cities that are embracing the concept of urban forests to enhance the environment and people’s health and well being.

Trees can filter polluted air, reduce smog, prevent erosion, absorb storm water, support local wildlife habitat, provide shelter from heat and enhance buildings insulation.

International examples of urban forestry include in Tokyo, Japan, where over 21,000 hectares of the city’s green space is forest.

Since 1998, the City of Belfast in Northern Ireland has planted approximately 200,000 trees in parks, sports fields, streets, schools and other urban areas, creating what is known as the Forest of Belfast.

Washington DC, which has been dubbed the City of Trees, boasts an urban tree canopy of 35 per cent, which equates to at least 2 million trees across the city.

In the tiny country of Singapore, home to over 5.5 million people, 30 per cent of the urban area is covered by vegetation. This is even more impressive given much of this vegetation is in public areas as most people do not have their own back yard.

Scientists in Singapore have undertaken research that showed there is up to a four-degree difference in temperature when grass and trees are present in an urban area.

Here in Australia, the city of Sydney recently initiated a Free Tree Giveaway program where residents are given trees to plant in their local area. Sydney has a target to increase the urban tree canopy by 50 per cent by 2030.

UDIA is supportive of urban greening given the wide benefits that can be delivered.

It is important that government, the development industry and homeowners all play their part in promoting green urban areas in Western Australia.

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