greening the urban sprawl …

Greening the suburbs is an agenda I am familiar with, and have been observing and implementing for the past 15 years, with differing degrees of success. Professor Lambers, equally shows his concerns on the benefits of vegetation of streets.

His latest post ended in a quite animated discussion about greening the suburbs, which I strongly agree with:

We all know that trees provide the oxygen we breath and remove carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) from the air. But they can do that anywhere, and we would still experience their benefits in our suburbs if they did this in a forest at great distance from our cities. However, we need them where we live, rather than at great distance, to maintain livable city temperatures.

Trees provide shade, and, most importantly, they provide evaporative cooling. This ensures that green suburbs are considerably cooler than suburbs without trees. This is crucially important when global warming is upon us and heatwaves will continue to hit us. It is why the City of Melbourne promotes planting trees, to reach their target to reduce the temperature by 5 degrees Celsius:…/hot-city-how-plants-can-hel….

There have been 4,000 death due to heat in Australia in the past two centuries. Death due to heat in Australia are expected to rise as a result of global warming. This can be avoided, if we reverse the trend to demolish trees when building suburbs or clear the entire block when building a new home. The City of Nedlands is loved as a green and leafy suburb. Yet, it lost 12.3 ha of tree canopy from 2012 to 2014. Why can’t we be as smart in Perth as they are in Melbourne?

"A peppermint tree in Nedlands is providing ecological services for humans, by reducing the temperature as a result of evaporative cooling and shade. This is particularly important in Nedlands, which has lost 12.3 ha of trees from 2012 to 2014. Carnaby's cockatoos also appreciate the tree, obviously. Peppermints are perfect streer trees in suburban gardens in Perth, as they cope well with a range of soil conditions and don't mind alkaline bore water. Photo: @[1585294073:2048:Hans Lambers]."
"Melia azedarach, Cape lilac or white cedar. This tree is native to some part of Western Australia but planted elsewhere, including the Perth metropolitan areas and many town in WA. Big trees like this one have a significant effect on the local climate, providing shade and evaporative cooling. In addition, they are a source of food for Forest red-tail; cockatoos. This species is winter-deciduous, so shade is provided only during the hot parts of the year. Photo: @[1585294073:2048:Hans Lambers]."
"Nedlands lost 12.3 ha of tree canopy in just two years."
"For more information:"

Kathy Jerrems This is a serious issue. I think some people apply a “tree borrowing” mentality when they build in a “leafy” suburb. They rely upon others to supply the trees instead of allowing room for some themselves. I live in Halls Head near the beach where we stSee More

Kwongan Foundation What we try to do here is provide simple facts. It is then a matter of telling our local members and mayors what needs to be done. It’s not rocker science.

Philip Albert Jones

Philip Albert Jones The Oceans actually produce far more Oxygen than Trees ever will, most people don’t seem to know this ? The Seas’ of our Planet cover 70 % of the World we live in and consequently have a huge Climatic effect on us. I do appreciate the Evaporative effect that Tree’s locally have on us of course (the principle of refrigeration) but it’s mostly cancelled out by the cars in City’s and other heat sources not so obvious !

Kwongan Foundation The oceans may cover a larger surface area, but more carbon dioxide is fixed and more oxygen released on land, where the primary productivity is considerably greater. In fact, the total productivity on land is twice that of the ocean. The point we arSee More

· Commented on by Hans Lambers ·
Philip Albert Jones

Philip Albert Jones Kwongan Foundation not quite correct I believe – David Attenborough made this quite clear in one of his many fantastic programs ? The Plankton which is what the huge Whales mostly feed on, is the source of the Oxygen/Carbon Dioxide capture.

Kwongan Foundation

Kwongan Foundation Philip Albert Jones The whales feed on krill, which depend on tiny plants that produce massive amounts of oxygen. All true. If you add up the total amount of oxygen produced or carbon fixed or dry matter produced by tiny and large plants in the oceans and on the land, you will arrive at the conclusion that the total amount is twice that on land.

Kwongan Foundation's photo.
 Commented on by Hans Lambers · 6 hrs

Christie Phillips I live in Butler and although there are a few leafy parks the new housing allotments are only big enough to allow for a patio out the back with a few steps out front to the verge ! Cluster housing is going to cause great concern on many levels. The only ones to profit are the Council and the Builders.

Kwongan Foundation

Kwongan Foundation What we aim for with this album is to provide the facts. After that, it is a matter of telling our local members and mayors what needs to be done. You don’t need to be a greenie to support this. The City of Melbourne has potted expanding its green area as a policy.

Sonya de Bruin

Sonya de Bruin As I drive around Perth suburbs I can’t help but notice how many verge/street trees are struggling to stay alive or have died – such a shame.

Kwongan Foundation

Kwongan Foundation In some cases, it is linked to getting the power supply underground. When it was above ground, the trees got pruned heavily on a regular basis. Sometimes the wrong trees were planted, e.g., Queensland box, which comes from the rainforest. Also, someSee More

Nathalie Casal

Nathalie Casal How can the Perth Peel 3.5 million plan possibly squeeze them all in to our northern suburbs if they allow for trees and evaporation.

Kwongan Foundation The Kwongan Foundation made the point that trees are vital to ensure our cities remain livable. If you want answers about the plan referred to, you’ll have to ask the Premier. The more people who raise those questions, the better the plan may become. Your questions is an excellent and perfectly valid one.

Cazz Beth Trees are natures air conditioners

Kwongan Foundation And air purifiers at the same time. smile emoticon

Cate Tauss You can see Nedlands performs less well than expected for heat vulnerability Its reputation as a leafy suburb near the Swan River that most would assume guarantees “cool” is not true.

Kwongan Foundation

Kwongan Foundation VERY insightful. Many in Nedlands may not worry, as they have swimming pools and air-conditioners….

Cate Tauss

Cate Tauss it is quite complex of course but some things are immediately striking. This heat vulnerability map shows that many of the red hot suburbs include clusters of commercial/ light industrial but new housing areas are also easily correlated. Maybe size of See More

 What he omits is the extent of heatwaves in the 19th and early twentieth Century, and the role electricity provides in providing heating and cooling to prevent ‘climate’ deaths. The only ‘real warming’ is the urban sprawl causing UHI.

Corymbia cliftoniana

Corymbia cliftoniana

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to
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One Response to greening the urban sprawl …

  1. Another Ian says:


    I think there is more to this.

    From experience in western Queensland with various vehicles.

    1. A small body truck with a cattle crate. Hearing west with a good headwind I will lose up to 20 km/h heading across the open plain. Then gain it back when I hit the timbered area. So the wind hasn’t stopped. it is just boundary layering above the trees. And I speculate that some of our bare areas in timbered country away from waters might have to do with boundary layer vortices.. There is no obvious connection to stock behaviour.

    2. On a good hot day the engine temperature gauge reads higher in the timbered areas than on the open plains

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