Sunday, August 23, 2015

In Support of Urban Trees

The population of Baw Baw Shire is set to expand considerably, (Population modeling has predicted the shire will continue growing at an annual rate of 2.3 per cent to reach 60,452 by 2026. It is expected Baw Baw Shire will have 71,683 residents by 2036, having grown at a rate of over 1.7 per cent annually over the previous decade. - from Baw Baw Shire website). Planned increases in urban density are likely to result in the removal of a significant number of trees from centres like Warragul and Drouin.

(Click on images for a larger view)
Drouin's trees clearly visible on Google Earth
Warragul expanding into valuable agricultural land
The rapid growth of an urban region can result in environmental consequences such as increasing ambient air temperatures. Urbanization inevitably replaces existing natural landscapes with paved surfaces and buildings creating an urban heat island effect.  Trees provide shade by directly blocking the sun’s rays, thus mitigating air temperature increases considerably.
Treescapes are pleasing to the eye
Through transpiration, trees can act as natural air conditioners. More than 90% of the water taken up by the roots of a tree is evaporated through its foliage, absorbing heat from the atmosphere in the process.
Exotics too can play a role
Numerous studies are available that directly connect urban trees with improved health and social benefits for the community. Green tree cover encourages more physical activity by residents. Healthier residents result in reduced health costs. Some research even suggests that less violence occurs in well treed urban areas. Tree canopies filter many airborne pollutants. Undeniably, treed environments are far healthier places in which to reside.
Tree planted parklands can lack understorey
Any real estate agent will confirm that properties in treed zones command greater values!
Higher property values in treed streets
By filtering heavy rainfall with their canopies and binding the soil with their roots, trees play an important role in preventing erosion. Native trees and shrubs in particular are used in many places to help control groundwater recharge and soil salinity.
Street trees and powerlines often don't mix
Much of our urban native wildlife of course is completely reliant on pockets or corridors of native trees for their survival. Various birds, possums, bats, frogs, lizards, insects and spiders all use trees and it would be a sad day to see these wonderful species disappear from our urban areas.
An example of sensitive infrastructure
Faced with an increased population and future environmental concerns in regard to forecast climate change, one significant challenge for Baw Baw Shire is to factor trees into urban planning to help create a shire that is resistant to the predicted increased heatwaves and storms, and yet remain a comfortable and pleasant location in which to live. 
Some remnant giants - worth saving
Trees are the lungs of the planet.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said Gouldiae! Unfortunately developers make no money from trees but rather from putting the biggest McMansion they can on the smallest block. The result - common in Canberra and the surrounding Shies is that there isn't enough room for a decent-sized Epacris, let alone a eucalypt.

    Of course Councils could moderate this effect but they generally include developers in their membership or in thrall to the developers.