central park sydney tower green facade
Image – Henry Thai. Famous Central Park apartments and shopping centre in Sydney is on the green train, with entire verdant facades.
  • New local government plans to turn 40% of council green
  • The plan is set to be complete by 2050
  • Other councils around Australia are also in on the greening trend

Sydney is famed for its harbour and beaches, but not exactly everything in between –  the greenery.

Not dissimilar to other global capitals like New York City and London, it’s a concrete jungle, more recently glass cathedrals, with little green respite throughout the land, barring historically dedicated spots like Hyde Park and the Royal Botanical Gardens and a few other spots here and there.

sydney hyde park
Image – Henry Thai. Large plots of green space like Hyde Park (above) and the Royal Botanical Gardens provide city workers and residents respite from the urban jungle, as well as other mental and physical health benefits.

That is set to change, the local government is set to spend $377 million on turning Sydney green, in fact, 40% of the city.

It’s tree time

Biodiversity in urban areas has been suffocating under the incredible levels of development we’ve seen over the past few decades.

Often not the first consideration in building projects, the University of Melbourne’s Dr Judy Bush said there is unique wildlife only found in some urban areas which coexist with us, often we don’t notice them simply because of our hectic lives.

residential area canopy before greening
Image – City of Sydney. The above image is a rendering of residential areas before significant greening works.

Wildlife can of course feel threatened too, we saw animals take the opportunity during lockdown to explore some of our urban areas a little more, in some cities making headlines.

The City of Sydney claims to be a leader in the space, their original greening plan started in 2012, many other local governments across Australia also have greening plans.

residential area after greening in 2050
Image – City of Sydney. Renderings of greening efforts as per the City of Sydney plan in 2050.

Plans proposed by the City of Sydney have focussed on the human health aspects of introducing greenery, alongside the host of other benefits that it has environmentally. It’s an interesting variation from what other councils and academics have been advocating for: increasing biodiversity in local government areas, The Town of Vincent and the City of Melbourne some of the proponents for increased biodiversity.

The strategy

Hundreds of millions are expected to be spent, pending approval, the Council say targets are to have 40% vegetation and green coverage by 2050.

It’s through a number of different methods including using laneways, roofs, and walls to help green the city, the plan also includes using local knowledge, the Council saying they’ll “work with the local Aboriginal community to identify cultural and practical principles to that should be considered when designing new spaces.”

satellite image of green square sydney
Image – Aerometrex, City of Sydney. An aerial image comparing greened and non-greened areas of Green Square, Sydney, NSW.

The plan to green laneways means taking over what the city says is some 38.3 hectares of narrow streets, with retrofitting green roofs among other strategies also used.

What are others doing?

The City of Melbourne also has an aggressive greening strategy that was in place from 2017. The project scope means the project finishes this year, but another greening project kicked off in 2020, triggered by COVID – the state government and the local government working together to plant some 150,000 trees, shrubs, and grasses in the City of Melbourne.

It’s expected to create some 24,000 square metres of understorey habitat, decreasing the urban heat island effect by creating more shade.

City of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore also mentioned that the Council will be planting not just trees, plants, green walls, and green roofs but shrubberies, something the Knights who say Ni would undoubtedly rejoice about.

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