Kaya everyone. There’s been a lot of great media recently on the importance of trees in our urban landscape and how lacking we are in this space in Perth. We have the hottest city, the worst tree canopy cover and the poorest laws to protect trees and this needs to change.
As Landscape Architects we know that urban tree canopy is an essential component of the urban landscape. I’m hopefully speaking to the converted when I write that trees offer multiple benefits, including reducing heat island effects, improving air quality, and providing habitat for wildlife. However, in recent years, the urban tree canopy has been under threat due to various factors such as urbanization, deforestation, climate change, introduced pests and natural disasters. As Landscape Architects in Western Australia, we play a critical role in protecting and enhancing the urban tree canopy and we must put forward our voices both individually and collectively to elevate ourselves as leaders in this conversation.
Implementing Australian standards for tree protection on development sites is one of the important steps that we can all take to protect the urban tree canopy. Australian Standards AS 4970-2009 Protection of Trees on Development Sites provides guidelines for tree protection during development activities. Landscape architects can incorporate these guidelines into our designs, ensuring that the trees are protected from damage during construction.
In addition to implementing Australian standards for tree protection, we can advocate for the protection of existing trees during the planning and design process. As we collaborate with architects, developers, planners, and local government officers we can both implement or develop new policies and regulations that prioritize the protection of the urban tree canopy. We can also educate the public on the benefits of trees and the importance of protecting them and must step up our actions in this space.
Another way we can protect and enhance the urban tree canopy is by understanding how we are contributing to urban heat through the use of hard surfaces within our designs. While it may not be our discipline being the worst at contributing to this, it’s worth acknowledging we can have an impact and trying to reduce this, and the impact of other disciplines wherever possible. Every tree and plant help create stepping stones within the landscape for fauna and insect species, which is a crucial part of maintaining our unique biodiversity within challenging urban conditions.
We also play a role in selecting the right tree species for urban areas. We can choose species that are well adapted to the local climate, have a high tolerance for urban conditions, and require minimal maintenance. The selection of appropriate tree species is crucial to ensure the long-term health and survival of the urban tree canopy. For those of us that attended the recent National Eucalypt Day event in Kings Park this was an excellent example of the many Western Australian species that can be used in our designs, in response to a rapidly changing climate and difficult microclimates from urban conditions.
As Landscape architects in Western Australia we have a critical role to play in protecting and enhancing the urban tree canopy. Implementing Australian standards for tree protection, advocating for the protection of existing trees, incorporating trees into our designs, selecting appropriate tree species, and educating our fellow disciplines and clients are all ways in which we can contribute to this goal. By working together with developers, planners, and local government officials, we can help create more sustainable and resilient urban environments that prioritize the health and well-being of the community and the natural environment.
I encourage you all to get out there and get your voice heard for trees and what they bring to our community and environment, be that in a meeting with a client, engineer. local or stage government authority, a letter to a local paper, comments on social media or even a barbecue conversation, every bit helps and we must make our voices and that of AILA heard in these important conversations.