Adding to the stock of green space

Article published in the Australian Financial Review  by James Dunn on 28 May 2015

Many urban dwellers would take it completely for granted, but ‘green space’ is an area that is exercising the minds of many thinkers. The 202020 Vision is the first time a national audit of urban green space has been conducted, and from that work, a plan has been put together to increase the supply of that commodity.

202020 VisionThe 202020 Vision is named after its mission, which “is to create 20 per cent more and better urban green space by 2020”. The 202020 Vision, a national initiative between business, governments and community groups, was established in 2013 by Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd, the Australian horticulture industry’s not-for-profit R&D arm, and was funded by peak body, the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia.

Dr. Anthony Kachenko, Research and Development team leader and portfolio manager at Horticulture Innovation Australia, says the first step was to map and analyse the level of tree cover in Australia’s cities.

This work was done by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology , Sydney (UTS): using a software program called iTree Canopy, developed by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the ISF studied the amount of tree canopy cover in 139 of Australia’s most urban local government areas (LGAs), which are collectively home to 68 per cent of Australia’s population. “We now know what we’ve got, in terms of green space. We’ve done a fair bit of the work to identify the gaps in our urban green space – the next step is to start enacting changes to plug these gaps,” says Kachenko.

The research collated by the 202020 Vision presents a “clear and compelling case” for more urban green space, he says. Apart from the obvious health-and-wellness benefits of green space as a place for relaxation – and 83 per cent of Australians see green space in this way – there are additional benefits that generate an economic case for green space, too.

“Research has found that customers prefer shopping in well-tended streets with large trees,” Kachenko says. “The study also found that people would pay 9 to 12 per cent more for goods sold in central business districts with high-quality tree canopy. More trees equals more local street commerce.”

Also, plants and trees enrich work environments. “It has been found that those working in ‘green’ environments are 17 per cent more productive than those in bare spaces without trees and plants,” says Kachenko.

To read the full article please click here.

To download the 202020 Vision Plan click here.