POLICY: Report arms decision makers with data to support increased green infrastructure
A recent report released by AECOM calculates the value street trees provide in Australian cities. It provides better insights into their benefits and critical information for decision makers who are designing, building and governing our cities.
Sadly decision makers face challenges with green infrastructure, which often lead to less frequent inclusion in plans. City of Sydney spends up to $5 million each year managing thousands of trees. Ausgrid spends approximately $43 million each year maintaining vegetation, mostly to maintain public safety, minimise bushfire risk and maintain the reliability of electricity supply. Trees also damage pipes and footpaths, increasing maintenance bills for water authorities and councils.
"At the moment, it's and easy argument against trees. It's very easy for anyone to say, if that tree falls over and hurts someone, I'll sue you"- Matthew O'Connor, Blacktown City Council.
The research was conducted with the review of over 500 publications, policies, street tree programs and other relevant literature. There are many variables affecting land and property prices, however the firm's analysis of tree canopies on property prices focused on the relationship between the size of the tree canopy, the price of land and property, and temperature. Aerial photography was utlised to calculate the tree canopy coverage (of three suburbs), which was then analysed with history data from RP Data.
The report highlights why the wider economic and long term benefits of green infrastructure must be considered. The social and environmental benefits are enormous, but for those who are strictly governed by dollars all signs still point to more green infrastructure.
Governments, public authorities, utility providers, developers and the community can overcome green infrastructure challenges by doing the following:
- Communicating the value of Green Infrastructure
- Incorporating green infrastructure into a broader plan for the city
- Updating green infrastructure regulations
- Apply smart management to green projects