Why we need to make Melbourne a greener city
Make Melbourne green again. Here's why we need more urban parks and gardens.
Victorian number plates once boasted of our ‘Garden State’, until a 1994 revamp insisted we get ‘On the Move’. It was a slogan we fulfilled, becoming Australia’s fastest-growing state. Victoria’s current population of six million is projected to grow to 10 million by 2050, with a staggering eight million in Melbourne alone.
But the rapid expansion of our city has led to the loss of green spaces. With the iconic Aussie backyard shrinking, and more of us living in apartments, access to a patch of the great outdoors is more important than ever before.
“Population growth and the densification of our inner suburbs over the past few decades has increased the demand on our public spaces, and one of the major challenges is that they need to play a range of roles,” says Heath Gledhill, Victorian president of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
“Shared spaces should be appropriate for use by different groups of people – families and various community groups – as well as responding to climate change,” he says.
Melbourne needs to come alive again, literally. And climate experts are prescribing a healthy dose of greenery, water and shade to help cool and adapt cities like ours for rising temperatures to come.
Feeling the heat
Melbourne’s city centre is suffering from the Urban Heat Island Effect, a phenomenon that boosts temperatures in built-up areas lacking in vegetation. The phenomenon has been linked to health risks for all inhabitants, human and otherwise, as well as rising costs, energy-use blowouts and impacts on community infrastructure such as transport.
“The Heat Island Effect is significantly impacting our overall quality of life across many areas,” says Heath. “It is crucial that we protect our existing green spaces and tree canopies, but to truly future proof our city we need to innovate.”