leafy-suburb
Image – Canva
  • 79% of people in Greater Brisbane live in populated suburbs with total tree cover greater than 20%
  • The new data gives local governments and others information and tools to create more resilient and sustainable communities
  • “Research shows the more greenery a residential area has, the better it is for the physical and mental health of the local community."

Brisbane has topped the ranking of Australia’s leafiest cities, according to research by Australian aerial imagery and location intelligence company Nearmap.

The research is the first and only of its kind, using a nationally consistent, high-resolution data set to compare total tree cover across all Australian cities.

Nearmap managing director and CEO Dr Rob Newman said, “The consistency and national coverage of the data for the first time provides a powerful picture of the density of urban forests, property development, and population distribution across the nation today.

“By revealing the major cities that are successfully creating green spaces – and which ones may need additional focus or investment – we can give local governments and other organisations the information and tools they need to create more resilient and sustainable communities.”

Dr Rob Newman, Nearmap managing director and CEO

It found 79% of people in Greater Brisbane live in populated suburbs with total tree cover greater than 20%.

Hobart is a close second with 71% of people living in areas with over 20% tree cover, followed by Darwin at 66%, the ACT at 58%, and Greater Sydney at 44%.

Keeping cool and shade

Locations with a lower percentage of tree cover in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth could see residents competing for shade as summer approaches, according to Nearmap.

Only 30% of people in Greater Melbourne live in suburbs with more than 20% tree cover, and this drops even further to 26% of people in Adelaide, and 22% of people in Perth.

Nearmap said, for residents in areas with lower tree coverage, the impacts are clear. Removing tree canopy can lead to the creation of urban heat islands, and has been shown to make cities 4-10 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. Trees and vegetation can also improve local water quality through reduced stormwater runoff and pollutants entering waterways. It also influences how ‘liveable’ an area is perceived.

According to a separate study, the 2021 Liveability Census by Place Score, one of the key things residents look for in an ‘ideal’ suburb is healthy vegetation and green spaces.

Dr Newman said, “This national data can also inspire urban planners in locations that are less leafy.”

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Nearmap managing director and CEO Dr Rob Newman. Image – LinkedIn

Leafiest residential areas

The analysis led by Nearmap senior director of artificial intelligence systems Dr Michael Bewley revealed the leafiest residential areas in each region across Australia’s capital cities.

University of Western Australia’s environmental geographer and associate professor Dr Bryan Boruff said, “Research shows the more greenery a residential area has, the better it is for the physical and mental health of the local community. Increasing vegetation in our cities is very doable. While we are seeing some positive changes, such as local governments committing to increases in tree canopy, there is still more that we can do.

“Increasing the number of trees in a local suburb might seem trivial. But the impact – in terms of health, liveability, and wellbeing – on local communities can be significant, and evolves over time.”

University of Western Australia’s environmental geographer and associate professor Dr Bryan Boruff

Dr Newman said, “Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised nations, and international and domestic migration have spurred rapid growth in our capital cities and urban centres. Today’s urban planners, designers, councils, and government organisations need reliable, up-to-date, and detailed information to help them make informed decisions, and better plan and build the cities of the future.”

brisbane-sheldon-qld
79% of people in Greater Brisbane live in populated suburbs with total tree cover greater than 20%. Image – Canva.

Capital City Breakdown: Leafiest suburbs by local region

Brisbane

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Brisbane – East Sheldon 66%
Brisbane – North Shorncliffe 23%
Brisbane – South Burbank 55%
Brisbane – West Pullenvale 52%
Brisbane Inner City Bardon 34%
Ipswich Mount Crosby 60%
Logan – Beaudesert Buccan 43%
Moreton Bay – North Wamuran 31%
Moreton Bay – South Bunya 53%

 

Hobart

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Hobart Sandford 39%

 

Darwin

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Darwin Virginia 44%

 

Australian Capital Territory

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Australian Capital Territory Aranda 35%

 

Sydney

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Central Coast Jilliby 52%
Sydney – Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury Annangrove 56%
Sydney – Blacktown Kings Park 19%
Sydney – City and Inner South Daceyville 34%
Sydney – Eastern Suburbs Double Bay 33%
Sydney – Inner South West Lugarno 29%
Sydney – Inner West Liberty Grove 24%
Sydney – North Sydney and Hornsby Wahroonga 43%
Sydney – Northern Beaches Church Point 53%
Sydney – Outer South West Douglas Park 32%
Sydney – Outer West and Blue Mountains Warrimoo 62%
Sydney – Parramatta Newington 32%
Sydney – Ryde Cheltenham 44%
Sydney – South West Voyager Point 18%
Sydney – Sutherland Grays Point 43%

 

Melbourne

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Melbourne – Inner Toorak 24%
Melbourne – Inner East Blackburn 28%
Melbourne – Inner South Beaumaris 23%
Melbourne – North East North Warrandyte 64%
Melbourne – North West Mount Macedon 60%
Melbourne – Outer East Olinda 71%
Melbourne – South East Emerald 53%
Melbourne – West Seddon 13%
Mornington Peninsula Hmas Cerberus 44%

 

Adelaide

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Adelaide – Central and Hills Crafers West 63%
Adelaide – North Banksia Park 29%
Adelaide – South Belair 46%
Adelaide – West Mile End 16%

 

Perth

Region Top suburb in region Percentage tree cover
Mandurah Furnissdale 32%
Perth – Inner Shenton Park 27%
Perth – North East Glen Forrest 50%
Perth – North West Gnangara 22%
Perth – South East Roleystone 48%
Perth – South West Casuarina 34%

Source: Nearmap, 2021

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