In 2010, a group of Grey-headed Flying-foxes – large fruit bats that are vulnerable to extinction – first appeared in a park in Bendigo. Their numbers have waxed and waned since then, but the park now provides a permanent home and breeding place for these beautiful animals.

Over the past 30 years, Grey-headed Flying-foxes have moved into many cities in southern Australia: Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo and Adelaide. They always get a lot of media attention. Flying-foxes alert city people to a world of nature.

Flying foxes keep ecosystems healthy through pollination and seed dispersal. Image by Shell Brown from Pixabay.

Flying-foxes are one of many examples of how cities can help nature adapt to a new climate. Big cities are founded on fertile soils, by rivers, wetlands and the coast. We built our cities in the most productive and biologically diverse parts of the world.

As cities grow, many of the original ecosystems become threatened. Melbourne and Canberra keep spreading into endangered natural grasslands, Sydney into endangered woodlands and coastal ecosystems. Many of Australia’s threatened plants and animals, including the Striped Legless Lizard and the Button Wrinklewort daisy, live in urban (as well as rural) areas. Their survival in urban areas depends upon good urban planning, management and care.

Making cities more liveable

City parks and reserves are also the places where many of us have our first exciting encounters with nature. Parks need our support just as we need parks to support us. Urban nature makes people better. Trees lower city temperatures and make hot summers more bearable. Parks, rivers and beaches make great places to relax and have fun.

Study after study has shown that nature improves human health and well-being. People who live and work in places with more parks, trees and animals have lower levels of stress, show less aggression and are less likely to suffer from attention-deficit disorder and other ailments.

Natural places in urban areas promote social engagement and trigger our sense of community and place. A view of a park from our office window even improves our productivity at work. We feel better when we welcome nature into the city.

To help nature adapt to a new climate

  • We are making space for nature in urban planning.
  • We are supporting urban parks and reserves.
  • We are reminding others that nature makes our cities more liveable.

Banner image: Credit Jesse Collins at JCFilmBox


This content is adapted with permission from text written by Dr Ian Lunt for the VicNature2050 booklet 10 things we can all do to help nature adapt to a new climate.

VicNature2050 was organised by the Victorian National Parks Association, The Royal Society of Victoria and The University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute, and supported by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria.

Other organisations who have participated in the VicNature2050 partnership include La Trobe University; Deakin University; Greening Australia; and the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research.

More about VicNature2050