urban garden singapore
Singapore is known for planting trees to reduce temperature and air pollution. Image – Canva.
  • $5 million investment expected to result in 300,000 trees being planted
  • Singapore is known for planting trees to counter the 'heat island' effect
  • Melbourne's west has only 5.5% canopy cover - significantly lower than other areas

The Victorian Government has announced a $5 million investment for new trees in six council areas in Melbourne’s west as part of its vision to create cooler spaces, drive down pollution and improve local air quality.

The funding is expected to facilitate the planting of around 500,000 trees.

Planting trees is a well-known solution to counter the urban ‘heat island’ effect. This occurs due to structures in urbanised areas absorbing and re-emitting the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes, leading to higher temperatures and lower air quality.

Experts believe planting more vegetation in urban areas can lower local air temperatures by one to two degrees Celsius. Singapore is well-known for employing this strategy.

According to the Victorian Government, Melbourne’s west had just 5.5% canopy cover in urban areas in 2018, compared to 17.4% in the inner south-east and 25.9% in the east. Across metropolitan Melbourne, the western suburbs experience the greatest heat island effect.

James Merlino, the acting Premier, said the pandemic has emphasised the importance of having such cooling spaces in the local community.

“The pandemic reminded us how important it is for our physical and mental health to have green open spaces close to home. These trees will mean more families in the western suburbs can enjoy a cooler, cleaner environment around them.”

James Merlino, Acting Premier

Experts will collaborate with the Victorian Government when deciding which trees, ranging from saplings to more mature trees, will be planted where. The funding will be available via grants to local councils and community organisations. Those with projects already underway can apply for funding to scale up projects.

The investment is part of the government’s ambitious target to cut greenhouse gases by 45-50% by 2030, with the ultimate goal being net-zero ambitions by 2050. Additionally, this helps to achieve the greening goals under the Plan Melbourne 2017 to 2050 initiative.

“These trees, together with our investment in suburban parks, will help Victoria tackle climate change and support our goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Lily D’Ambrosio, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

The planting is expected to commence in September.

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