Developing a Metropolitan-Wide Urban Forest Strategy for a Large, Expanding and Densifying Capital City: Lessons from Melbourne, Australia
2.1. Current Context for Melbourne
2.2. Developing the ‘Resilient Melbourne’ Strategy
3. Developing a Metropolitan-Wide Urban Forest Strategy
3.1. Mapping and Modelling to Inform Priorities
3.1.1. Mapping Metropolitan Melbourne’s Urban Forest
3.1.2. Habitat Connectivity
3.1.3. Correlations between the Urban Forest and Heat Vulnerability
3.2. Governance Arrangements
3.3. Concurrent Consultation with Stakeholders
- Establish the current status of the urban forest and associated management issues;
- Develop the vision and goals;
- Develop the critical strategic areas that the strategy would address;
- Identify technical evidence to guide the strategy;
- Frame and develop the draft strategy.
- Twenty-six LGAs contributed their tree asset inventories of street trees and open space trees. While these databases vary in size and scope, these datasets were used to help determine the monetised value of these assets including the economic savings in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, carbon sequestration, and avoided water run-off. The datasets also helped calculate the cost of replacing these assets with similar trees based on size, species, health and location.
- BirdLife Australia supplied bird atlas data. Using the urban forest canopy cover mapping layer with bird atlas data and other important datasets (such as ecological vegetation classes), enabled the modelling of different levels of connectivity and landscape permeability for different bird species and bird groups.
- Thirty organisations, including 27 LGAs and three major public land managers (Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicRoads) supplied their operational costs relating to the establishment, management and maintenance of vegetation.
- Tree purchasing, planting and maintenance costs were supplied by organisations such Council Arborists Victoria, Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria and public land management agencies to inform estimates of costs for future canopy targets.
4. Vision, Goals and Actions of Living Melbourne
- Healthy people: Protect and increase access to nature, green space and canopy cover, to reduce heat exposure, and improve mental and physical wellbeing.
- Abundant nature: Protect and extend habitat connectivity and corridors to enhance biodiversity.
- Natural infrastructure: Protect and increase vegetation on public and private land, in order to cool urban areas, retain water in the soils, reduce flood risk and increase water and air quality.
- Action 1: Protect and restore habitats, and increase ecological connectivity of all types between streetscapes, conservation reserves, riparian and coastal areas, open spaces and other green infrastructure across metropolitan Melbourne.
- Action 2: Set urban canopy and understorey targets for each metropolitan region, and decide on a clear and consistent method for long-term monitoring and evaluation of the quality and extent of the urban forest.
- Were calculated based on vegetation in the existing urban area at 2015.
- Applied to all land (public and private) in each region.
- Recommended increases each decade.
- Were supported by principles, including no net loss of tree or shrub cover on public and private urban land in each metropolitan region.
- Action 3: Strengthen planning and development standards and relevant guidelines to increase the greening of the private realm.
- Action 4: Encourage collaboration between sectors and regions, to protect and expand the urban forest by strengthening existing regional partnerships, and establishing new ones, and by accelerating greening efforts on private land.
- Action 5: Equip practitioners to protect and enhance the urban forest by building on existing resources and creating a shared toolkit to facilitate implementation of best practices.
- Action 6: Establish a set of funding and financing options to suit different types of urban forest action.
5.1. Key Processes and Enabling Conditions That Facilitated Success
- The City of Melbourne had developed a world-class urban forest strategy.
- Thirteen LGAs (including City of Melbourne) had already developed (or were developing) municipal urban forest strategies and other metropolitan LGAs had relevant urban greening and open space related policies or strategies.
- Greening the West had been working as an alliance of organisations working toward a common agenda and was in the process of planting one million trees.
- Melbourne Water was developing the Healthy Waterways Strategy 2018–2028 , a strategy shared by Melbourne Water, state and local governments, water corporations and the community. It covers the rivers, creeks, estuaries and wetlands of the Port Phillip and Westernport region, providing a single framework to protect and improve the waterways’ environmental, social, economic and cultural values for the community.
- The Nature Conservancy had recently scoped the potential for a city-wide biodiversity strategy for Melbourne.
5.2. Challenges, Limitations and Critical Areas to Build on for Implementing the Strategy
- A critical element of the strategy included the science associated with the vegetation mapping and the resultant use of the vegetation mapping in urban heat island analysis and models for some elements of biodiversity. Although it was considered that the input data to create the vegetation were of good quality and that there was a high level of accuracy, the large geographic area of metropolitan Melbourne meant that there were variations in the dates and times of the satellite imagery and LiDAR datasets, and the DTM and DSM resolution. Additional technical analysis would have enhanced the strategy, although these remain areas that could be readily undertaken using the base vegetation mapping.Most municipalities have biodiversity-related policy, strategy and or detailed plans. A granular analysis of a larger suite of metropolitan biodiversity values and threats, using available local government biodiversity-related strategy and existing Victorian Government datasets, could have provided more detailed direction for biodiversity benefits and habitat connectivity opportunities. Acknowledging the continuing need for this activity, Action 1 in the strategy provides a step-by-step approach for improving biodiversity and connectivity.The Living Melbourne canopy analysis, undertaken using the software eCognition Essentials (Trimble Geospatial), provided tenure-neutral canopy mapping of 639,124 hectares of urban, peri-urban and rural land across the Melbourne metropolitan area. While the canopy mapping identified vegetation distribution and height, future analysis that could better differentiate different tree types (e.g., deciduous, eucalyptus, broadleaf trees, etc.) would be useful for finer scale conservation planning and assist the further prioritisation of on-ground urban greening locations.Sixteen local government street and park tree inventories were gathered during the development of the strategy and were most helpful to inform some research related to the financial value of such assets. These inventories could also be used to inform biodiversity connectivity mapping and identify where opportunities exist to provide good heat mitigation walking-corridors. In addition, such inventories, combined with the values available from the multi-spectral satellite imagery and canopy mapping might assist to validate remote species identification.
- Collaboration was sought with land managers (including urban development industry representatives) and policy makers and not directly with the general public. It was agreed by the Senior Reference Group that LGAs, being the closest tier of government to the community should be relied upon to engage with relevant community stakeholders about Living Melbourne. Had significantly greater resources been available, direct community engagement at some level could have been advantageous. It should be acknowledged as part of the ongoing implementation of the strategy that public land management practitioners, in particular LGAs, will continue to closely engage with the public.
- LGAs as key stakeholders and other major land management organisations (e.g., water authorities and public land managers) were specifically targeted as key endorsers as a subset of the wider consultation undertaken. Suggestions by some academic commentators [51,52] that the views of other key stakeholders (e.g., transport, health) were not sought is erroneous.
- The rationale for the targets proposed in Living Melbourne is articulated above. An alternative target strategy would have been for all regions to reach 30% canopy by 2050 rather than the range of targets that were offered. This would have lent an increased element of regional equity for residents to benefit from ambitious canopy targets. It would also have required a much more aggressive canopy enhancement approach for some regions each decade. Most notably the Western Region, and to a lesser extent the Northern and Inner Regions, would have had to have increased canopy beyond the 5 percent increase per decade. It is uncertain whether this would be achievable.
- Endorsing authorities were asked to support Living Melbourne’s vision, goals and actions and commit to work in partnership with the other endorsing organisations towards its implementation. More could have been requested of endorsing organisations, such as a specific commitment of financial and other resources.
5.3. Implementation Post Strategy Development
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Local Government||Urban Forest Strategy||Current Total Tree Canopy Cover||Measurable Canopy Cover Target/s (Public Land)||Measurable Canopy Cover Target/s (Private Land)||Overall Canopy Cover Target||Measurable Tree Diversity Target|
|City of Melbourne||Yes||11.0%||40% by 2040||No more than 5% species, 10% genus, 20% family|
|City of Port Phillip||Yes||22.0%||Yes, individual suburb targets by 2027||Increase diversity|
|City of Yarra||Yes||17.0%||21.25% by 2040|
|City of Banyule||Yes||Parks and bushland reserves: 37.0%||Parks: 50%; Streets|
|Increase by 20%||Increase diversity|
|City of Darebin||Yes||9.8%||At least 25% by 2028|
|City of Moonee Valley||In development||11.0%|
|City of Moreland||Yes||14.0%||21.3% by 2050||Maintain at current 9% by 2050||30.3% by 2050||Street tree planting guide: No more than 40% one family, 15% one genus and 5% one species|
|City of Whittlesea||In development||19.72%||Yes||Yes||Increase by 20% by 2040|
|City of Knox||Street Tree Asset Management Plan||Streets: 22.0%||25% by 2030 in streetscapes||Improve diversity|
|City of Casey||2009 Revegetation strategy||Remnant vegetation: 7.0%||Native vegetation 30%|
|City of Greater Dandenong||Yes||9.90%||15% by 2028|
|City of Frankston||Urban Forest Policy||17.0%||20% by 2040|
|City of Glen Eira||In development||12.5%||14% by 2040|
|City of Monash||Monash Urban Landscape and Canopy Vegetation Strategy||22.0%||30% by 2040|
|City of Stonnington||Yes||25.0%||No more than: 30% of any one family, 20% of any one genus, 10% of any one species|
|City of Brimbank||Yes||6.20%||50% canopy cover in urban parks and open spaces||30% by 2046||No more than 50% of the same family and introduce new families|
|City of Wyndham||Yes||9.0%||Streets: 25% by 2040|
Open Space: 35% by 2040
|Established areas: 15% by 2040; New areas: 10% by 2040||No more than 30% family, 20% genus, and 20% species|
|Metropolitan Region||Percentage of Land with Canopy Cover (of Trees 3 Metres High or Taller) *|
|Inner South East||22|
|Total metropolitan tree canopy cover||15|
|Region||Residential Rental Properties (%)||Average Weekly Household Income (AUD)|
|Cool Spots (Urban Heat Island < 0 °C)||Hot Spots (Urban Heat Island > 10 °C)||Cool Spots (Urban Heat Island < 0 °C)||Hot Spots (Urban Heat Island > 10 °C)|
|Total metropolitan area||18.9||23.5||1524.1||1228.1|
|Region||No. Features||Average Area (ha)||Total Area (ha)||Mean Percent Cover of Vegetation|
|Low Vegetation (<3 m)||Tree Canopy (>3 m)||Total Vegetation|
|Total metropolitan area||750||9.6||7180.8||26.3||44.2||70.5|
|Total metropolitan area||1172||10.6||12,429.8||28.0||2.2||30.2|
|Region||Local Government Authorities||Existing 2015||Target 2030||Target 2040||Target 2050|
|%Tree Canopy||%Tree Canopy and Shrubs||%Tree Canopy||%Tree Canopy and Shrubs||%Tree Canopy||%Tree Canopy and Shrubs||%Tree Canopy||%Tree Canopy and Shrubs|
|Western||Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley, Wyndham||4||15||9||20||14||25||20||30|
|Northern||Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Mitchell, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whittlesea||12||24||17||29||22||34||27||39|
|Inner||Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra||13||18||18||23||23||28||28||33|
|Southern||Casey, Frankston, Greater Dandenong, Kingston, Cardinia, Mornington Peninsula||16||34||21||39||26||44||30||50|
|Inner South-East||Bayside, Boroondara, Glen Eira, Stonnington||22||39||24||44||27||49||30||50|
|Eastern||Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse, Yarra Ranges||25||44||27||49||29||50||30||50|
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Hartigan, M.; Fitzsimons, J.; Grenfell, M.; Kent, T. Developing a Metropolitan-Wide Urban Forest Strategy for a Large, Expanding and Densifying Capital City: Lessons from Melbourne, Australia. Land 2021, 10, 809. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080809
Hartigan M, Fitzsimons J, Grenfell M, Kent T. Developing a Metropolitan-Wide Urban Forest Strategy for a Large, Expanding and Densifying Capital City: Lessons from Melbourne, Australia. Land. 2021; 10(8):809. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080809Chicago/Turabian Style
Hartigan, Martin, James Fitzsimons, Maree Grenfell, and Toby Kent. 2021. "Developing a Metropolitan-Wide Urban Forest Strategy for a Large, Expanding and Densifying Capital City: Lessons from Melbourne, Australia" Land 10, no. 8: 809. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080809