Cook Government unveils fresh state-led strategy to ‘green’ Perth
Strategy adopts an incentive-based approach, prioritising positive reinforcement over punitive measures. Image: Canva, AI-generated.
  • Western Australia unveils ‘Urban Greening Strategy’ to enhance tree canopy and green spaces across Perth and Peel.
  • Strategy aligns with climate policies, emphasising liveability and climate resilience through incentives.
  • Collaboration with stakeholders and incentive-based approach integral to the whole-of-government effort.

Western Australia’s (WA) State Government has revealed its new ‘Urban Greening Strategy’, which aims to encourage and improve tree canopy and ‘greening’ across the Perth and Peel region.

The news will likely be well received among the State’s residents, considering how green spaces benefit their surrounding communities. For instance, they improve air quality, reduce stress levels, and improve the overall quality of life.

Additionally, they make hot urban areas more liveable by moderating temperatures. This is especially important in WA, where heatwaves are common during summer.

The newly unveiled plan will work in lockstep with the ‘Western Australian Climate Policy’ and ‘Climate Adaptation Strategy’, bolstering the robustness of the State’s cities and regions.

“Urban greening is part of our strategy to create liveable, healthy communities while attracting viable infill development that balances the need for housing with quality of life and amenity,” said Planning Minister, John Carey.

“The Cook Government will assist in developing an ‘Urban Greening Strategy’ exploring where we can integrate and encourage urban greening initiatives and most importantly identify opportunities for Government, industry, and community to work together.

“This will include Government grant programs, events and incentives, a public education program, expanding successful planting and tree programs, improved tree canopy data, and opportunities to partner with local government and community groups.”

“The strategy will focus on an incentive-based approach rather than a punitive approach.”

John Carey, Planning Minister

Using a whole-of-government approach to ‘green’ the city

The ‘Urban Greening Strategy’ will follow a whole-of-government approach so that any further initiatives are coordinated and work in harmony with pre-existing greening programs.

The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) is tasked with developing the strategy to investigate measures boosting the State’s tree canopy and green spaces, such as tree canopy assessment and reporting, education, and urban heat evaluation and mitigation.

In implementing the strategy, the Government will engage with the WAPC, Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), and various stakeholders to enhance existing urban greening projects and research other planning incentives involving tree retention.

Complementing WA’s successful track record of ‘greening’

The ‘DesignWA’ portfolio of policies comprises conditions that mandate and encourage the retention of existing trees, planting new trees, deep soil zones, and soft landscaping alongside communal and private open spaces.

The revised State Planning Policy 7.3 Residential Design Codes also includes incentives to retain existing trees and promote minimum planting and soft landscaping standards for new developments in medium-density locations.

These measures build upon apartment codes dating back to 2019, which include minimum requirements for deep soil zones, tree planting, and soft landscaping in high-density developments.

“‘Western Australia’s Climate Adaptation Strategy’ and ‘Climate Change Policy’ recognise the need to improve our resilience to climate change, including responding to increasing temperatures across our communities,” said Environment and Climate Action Minister, Reece Whitby.

“The new ‘Urban Greening Strategy’ will complement and build upon the Cook Government’s $3.75 million’ Urban Greening Grants Program’ – available to WA local governments in Perth and Peel now.

“There are many benefits of green spaces for liveability, health, biodiversity, and climate resilience, and we are creating a strategy that will encourage, facilitate and enhance our urban green environment across all areas of Government.”

“Not only do trees improve our neighbourhoods, they can help with the cost of living – a tree that provides shade to your home can help to reduce your electricity bills.”

Reece Whitby, Environment and Climate Action Minister.

“We have a shared responsibility with local government, industry, private landowners, and the broader community to care for our environment, protect its biodiversity, and ensure we adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.”

The State Government invites all stakeholders to give their input on ‘The Urban Greening Strategy’ by 7 June 2024.

WA peak body for architecture responds to announcement

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) WA Chapter issued a statement of support in response to the Government’s announcement.

“Tree canopies and landscape are critical to the quality of streetscapes and our urban experience. As we move to greater density in our city and suburbs, we must ensure an even greater focus on urban greening ‐ maintaining and building on both our tree canopies and landscape,” said AIA WA Chapter president, Sandy Anghie.

Sandy Anghie
Sandy Anghie. Image: AIA.

“Architects are currently leading the way in WA, showing how beautiful, high-quality spaces can be achieved on tight sites with environmentally sensitive designs.

“We look forward to working with the Government on this strategy. We hope that the State Government’s new ‘Urban Greening Strategy’ will build on the themes in the recently announced new Draft Medium Density Code. In particular: incentivised retention of mature trees, and optimising the quality of outdoor spaces and gardens.”

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