Welcome to 2022. While there are many things not yet addressed in planning and development by the elder Andrew Barr and his government, there are some tangible programs to do with biodiversity that are waiting to happen.
Residents take the lead in planning for their suburbs
First, a shout out to the hard-working community council volunteers who bring together views of residents and then present these to the government. The latest has just been published by the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC).
For almost half a decade, the Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) has been careful not to oppose development. The WCCC has focused on the quality of the developments and to have the redevelopments include social and sporting facilities.
For most people, what happens with planning regulations tends to be of little interest, until the day arrives when it becomes the issue requiring their utmost concentration to work out what the hell is going on.
When the ACT’s City Renewal Authority made its announcement on Tuesday (August 11) about the latest plan for West Basin, there was a slight glimmer of hope that, at last, maybe someone was listening. Not so!
Here’s praise for an ACT politician. The accolade goes to the Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur for her work in chairing (from 2016) the Legislative Assembly committee on planning and urban renewal and the release of the April report – “The Inquiry into Engagement with the Development Application Process in the ACT”.
When the government slipped through the unique variations to the rules for south-east corner of section 72 Dickson, all the local government members, including Green/Labor member Shane Rattenbury, signed off on this most inappropriate action by the planning minister.
Good journalism is welcomed and embraced. Journalism that is written to promote bad decisions by government must be called out. Here’s an example of the latter. The author, Tom Greenwell, starts well by making some points about Walter Burley Griffin’s planning for Canberra. But then he commits the crime of using Griffin’s name and visions to justify some outrageous developments being planned by the ACT Government (Urban Renewal Authority again!) that will destroy a wonderful part of the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. Click here for the article in City News.
and for more about West Basin alternative facts – click here; includes letters from Richard Johnstone of kingston – a supporter of West Basin developments.
And for more on the arguments against what Tom Greenwell has written – click here for a very well informed piece by Penny Moyes, one of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians.
This post starts with being in front of our house at 6.15 am listening to the cacophony of sounds coming from what must have been a rowdy Christmas Day gathering of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos at end of the street (near the Dickson Drain).
It was announced in the UK that the winner of a competition has proposed that to deal with population growth that new cities should be built nearby established ones. These would be garden cities connected back to the older city by public transport.
How making London greener could make Londoners happier
an interactive map
From The Guardian: London – with all its tarmac, brick and glass – is actually 38.4% open space and ranks as the world’s third greenest major city. Now Daniel Raven-Ellison wants to go further … and make Greater London a national park. His campaign and online petition aims to have the city treated in the same way as parks like the Peak District and the Brecon Beacons, to conserve its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it. With our local trees comes other biodiversity and heaps of bird life. Researchers have just worked this out. Click here for a story on this.
I have the benefit of living in a suburb with plenty of tree cover. In fact the view outside onto the streets is almost as if the street is a parkland. The concept that any suburb should have an abundance of trees and shrubs and associated bio-diversity is simply so logical that one wonders why would anyone think otherwise.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) is a program based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment and can be planned, designed, developed, and maintained to protect and enhance the benefits we derive from healthy functioning landscapes. Sustainable landscapes create ecologically resilient communities better able to withstand and recover from episodic floods, droughts, wildfires, and other catastrophic events. They benefit the environment, property owners, and local and regional communities and economies.
“Urban agriculture is a phenomenon today,” said Farham Karim, an architectural historian at the University of Kansas, at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in New Orleans. Upwards of 70 million people are now involved around the globe — on Farmville, at least, the popular game app, he laughed. But, in reality, there are many tens of millions farming on the ground, too. With all the growing interest, Karim played devil’s advocate, wondering: is urban agriculture scalable? And who is going to be doing all this urban farming? And if we know it’s not a cost-effective solution for solving the world’s food problems, why the persistent interest?
from The Guardian, Designing cities and factories with urban agriculture in mind. The Netherlands offers inspiration for designers looking to create environments that harvest water, energy and nutrients.
Urban farms are transforming inner city spaces – rooftops, infrastructure, streetscapes, building skin – into generative ecologies that support the lives of people, and pollinators too. They are bringing into cities, and into plain view, the natural systems that sustain urban life
Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.
This wetland was part of a series of several wetlands installed into the inner northern suburbs of Canberra. Our hope is that one day the same local government will take on the challenge of enlarging the nearby wetlands to include much of the concrete drains through the inner northern suburbs. This would then be then be a linear park and wetland that would wind its way through several suburbs and increase the amount of green infrastructure. It would also be a wonderful walkway and increase the chances of locals getting out and walking.
Conservation is for the first time beginning to operate at the pace and on the scale necessary to keep up with, and even get ahead of, the planet’s most intractable environmental challenges. New technologies have given conservationists abilities that would have seemed like super powers just a few years ago.
Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas. Random House, 2010
As if there was not enough information available on how the world is not paying attention to all the warning signs, this book was recommended to me to make me aware of the dire situation coming our way in relation to the supply of adequate food for coming generations.
This is all linked in with the issues of climate change, population growth and the way we have allowed our food supplies to be controlled by particular market and political forces. This book is a must read for all.
While the predictions forecast an increase in temperatures and a drier climate for places such as most of Australia, especially in the South East, the same predictions forecast much wetter conditions in countries in the north, such as the UK.
While the former predictions are starting to be fulfilled, the latter for the UK is now being questioned. That is, not whether they are true, but whether climate change has already affected the weather in the UK.
With the massive flooding now underway and more expected, these questions are being asked and answered by the scientists within their bureau of meteorology.
A presentation: Turn your city to being an edible city
Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy to deal with the forecasted food shortages as climate change kicks in. The presentation demonstrates how to turn a conventional community into an edible city. Learn how to transform unproductive spaces into agricultural landscapes that help fight obesity and reduce food deserts. Make sure you note the address and send it onto anyone in decision making roles.
A presentation: Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air
Developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects, this presentation will assist advocacy for more resource allocation for urban forests. Governments need to deal with climate change in the urban areas, and dealing with urban forests is a good place to concentrate some resources. The urban forest issues are linked to the population’s health and wellbeing and avoiding heat island effects.
Online Presentation: The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System
Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.
There are a host of professions that could be showing much greater leadership. Many have learnt to be spin doctors and have filled pages with their commitments and their policies. All this is very nice and very polite.
Posted: January 07, 2014 Coming from image-conscious professionals who prefer to gush about the beauty of flowers and the joys of growing vegetables, the words were downright shocking: “Horticulture is under siege.” They jumped off a three-page letter penned by a half-dozen of the country’s most prominent plant people sent in December to 800 schools and universities, government agencies, industry associations, and growers of everything from almonds to onions. Clearly, horticulture – once a priority, if not an obsession, for generations of Americans – is in trouble. The letter warns that if something isn’t done soon to boost the ranks of plant scientists, breeders, students, and others in the field, horticulture could become a lost art and a forgotten science. see the full article on Philly.com: click here
With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this brand-new LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection.
The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFE’s contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination. The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE program’s contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channeled and have an even greater impact in future. Download LIFE and Soil protection
Big old trees grow faster, making them vital carbon absorber
from the Conversation ( where would we be without The Conversation?)
The linked article has ramifications for the current forest management methods and choices about what to log or not. The piece also reminds us all of the importance of all trees, not only for shade and green infrastructure benefits, but also as carbon sinks.
While becoming carbon neutral must be the top priority, it remains that trees are part of the adaptation processes of dealing with some of the carbon in our atmosphere. This points to the need to increase our urban forests and to ensure that new developments include more than adequate trees to deal with heat island effects, to provide for increase health and wellbeing and to be part of city-wide urban carbon sinks.
You are urged to ‘watch this space’ for research and reports by scientists who have been carrying out research on Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health. To quote from their website:
Safeguarding future health in Australian cities, The CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship has funded scientists and researchers from a range of disciplines to develop adaptation strategies which will improve the health of urban populations in the face of a variable and changing climate.
The Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health Cluster was established in 2010 and officially launched in March 2011 at a Conference in Cairns, bringing together nine different partner organisations focusing on 7 major research projects.
In Australia planning authorities and government administrative services sections still do not address the proven links between health and the access to open spaces. One has to only look to the small budgets for parks initiatives and worse still to the shrinking allocations for park maintenance within local governments.
Meanwhile all our governments are under stress because of the increasing requirements being identified under their health portfolios.
It is about equating the Natural Environment of National Parks to the natural environment of Cities – there are the one environment!
Many the time I have had frustrating debates with bureaucracies over how we address the issues of biodiversity and landscape. Often it results in the otherwise intelligent bureaucrat insisting that we talk about two separate entities, the built environment and the natural environment. This perception has also surfaced in discussions with organisations such as Conservation Foundations and their like.
If cities look to stay within their boarders, there is the need to seek acceptable ways to intensify the number of residents within the older suburbs. This requires an intelligent engagement with the present residents of suburban areas on a case by case basis.
Given the need to address climate change within the suburbs as they are being redeveloped and upgraded throws up a host of requirements that should have by now have been built into legislation. Sadly this is not so as most of the re-development and intensification as been left to laissez-faire market forces.
Take any city and ask, has the government in place a long-term strategy to enhance the biodiversity through maintaining and increasing its green infrastructure? This requires not just consideration of the public realm but also ways to encourage citizens that this needs to happen in the backyard of every home.
In the past governments have often established arboretums to undertake research on trees and shrubs. It is now far more realistic to continue the aims of arboretums not by having these specialist sites, instead the approach needs to be to increase the range of trees and shrubs within the urban areas themselves.