Through the Our Park, Our Place project, we’re taking active steps with local governments and residents in urban low-canopy hotspots to reconnect people with nature by consulting communities on the design of green spaces, facilitating educational workshops and holding tree planting activities.
Our Park Our Place is currently targeting hotspots in Western Australia, where a lack of trees and vegetation is contributing to higher temperatures.
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The collaborative project is already underway, focused around three parks in some of Perth’s most heat-stressed council areas – Bassendean, Bayswater, and Canning, on the traditional lands of the Noongar people.
As more and more Australians move to urban areas, the suburbs are changing shape, with more paved surfaces and buildings per block than backyards and open green spaces.
This is increasing what is called the Urban Heat Island Effect, where urban areas are consistently hotter than country areas due to the amount of surfaces that reflect the sunlight (like windows) or that heat up and are still releasing stored warmth when the sun goes down (like walls and roads).
Street trees and other green infrastructure like parks, verges, green roofs and walls can help reduce this heating effect by absorbing sunlight and shading hard and reflective surfaces. By drawing soil moisture up into their leaves, trees and other plants can also have an effect a bit like evaporative coolers.
The lack of trees and cooling local green spaces in some areas of Perth is becoming more and more obvious as temperatures rise, rainfall decreases and heatwaves intensify. We see residents suffering from heat stress, as well as our treasured local wildlife.
According to modelling by the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, communities in suburbs with lower tree canopy cover were found to be more at risk from heat-related stress and illness in a changing climate.
Encouragingly, people are becoming more and more driven to take action close to home. However, whether due to a feeling of disconnection from the natural world, or perhaps due to feeling powerless against the changing environment, many are looking for support to overcome the barriers that keep them from taking ownership of their local environment and communities.
Thanks to a grant of more than $570,000 from Lotterywest, the Our Park, Our Place project is being rolled out in Perth, and has a strong focus on working together with local governments to enhance the wellbeing of residents – in Bassendean, Bayswater, and Canning.
The project sets out to give residents the knowledge and skills to take action for their own neighbourhoods, to reconnect with their local parks and each other, and to create cool green spaces in a changing climate. Consulting and engaging community underpins the entire project.
We’ll be asking residents what they think about green space and involving communities in designing their parks, as well as offering educational sessions, workshops and community art and planting days.
While each project may look a little different for each group of residents we work alongside, the focus is all about enabling reconnection – to nature and to each other – to co-design outcomes that are sustained and resilient.
The project involves a collaboration between Greening Australia, social scientists, landscape architects, local councils and residents to ensure the benefits of the project keep giving into the future.
We believe that people thrive when nature thrives, and that reconnecting people with their local environments, and empowering them to take ownership of their communities today, will create healthier, greener, more liveable neighbourhoods tomorrow.
Over the past few months, we worked with our partner councils and The Behaviour Change Collaborative on creative ways for residents to share their ideas about their local parks online and via print. Community consultation has concluded and we have presented designs to local residents via community events. They are available to view here:
We’re now hosting workshops for the community and giving residents other opportunities to get involved in reconnecting with nature and cooling their ‘hoods:
The Our Park, Our Place project activities in Perth are supported by Lotterywest and delivered as part of Greening Australia’s Nature in Cities program.
This project activities in Perth are also supported by Water Corporation’s Drainage for Liveability program. The program, which will see Mary Crescent basin upgraded, illustrates how functional stormwater drains and basins can continue to serve as flood prevention while also enhancing the liveability of our suburbs.
Ruth brings considerable experience in community education and environmental design to her role at Greening Australia, coupled with knowledge of sustainable land management practices. She is passionate about the environment and the need for community participation to drive and inspire lasting change. She has worked closely with school and community groups delivering environmental education programs and also on large scale revegetation projects. When she is not doing this, you will often find her elbow deep in her own garden.
Christine has considerable experience and extensive knowledge of conservation ecology and flora conservation in West Australia and a PhD in threatened flora translocations in Great Southern. Christine is passionate about the need for community involvement in conservation and organises regular talks about West Australian plants with the Wildflower Society and has close connections to a range of community groups, not for profits and government agencies across the state.