With the formal consultations now closed on the ACT government’s planning reforms, many in Canberra’s community groups would be wondering about the motivations of the planning bureaucracy.
With the formal consultations now closed on the ACT government’s planning reforms, many in Canberra’s community groups would be wondering about the motivations of the planning bureaucracy.
Dealing with the complexities of Greenslabor planning reforms has been an unpleasant experience for those reading the badly written documents that were drip-fed to the public last year. There is nothing positive about what is being proposed. Continue reading ACT Greenslabor have truth and transparency as options
The ACT Greenslabor government regularly makes re-announcements about commitments to sometime soon provide homes that are sustainable. Continue reading Housing ACT as the rogue developer
In February, 2012, the then-ACT Labor Environment and Sustainable Development Minister, Simon Corbell, officially opened the Dickson Wetlands (completed in 2011). This marvellous water feature changed the neighbourhood.
There used to be the sound of owls in the inner north of Canberra at night time. I didn’t really appreciate the beauty of their call until, one day, I realised it was no more.
During a recent Inner South Canberra Community Council meeting, a topic mentioned by several speakers was one of the fundamental problems with the ACT planning system.
Several conversations of late have centered on the question – what has happened to the much-touted Draft Variation 369?
When Marion Mahony Griffin provided those glorious drawings for the submission to design Canberra, she included a distant view of the mountains.
There are many open spaces in Canberra that could be doing far more for biodiversity.
During the last decade the ACT Labor Party has depended on the ACT Greens to form government. What has come of the ACT Greens? Click here
With the Christmas release of the draft City and Gateway Urban Design Framework, the ACT Government’s City Renewal Authority undertook media advocacy during February for an apartment suburb on West Basin. The ACT Government continues with its proposal for West Basin against the opposition of the Canberra community – click here.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote on the threats to biodiversity caused through inappropriate developments across Canberra.
Someone needs to ask the ACT Planning Minister why the planning directorate continues to encourage local residents to form residents’ associations to oppose inappropriate developments.
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).
All is not well in the mountains.
Any tree is worth saving. Any group of trees is always worth fighting for. But I also acknowledge that when absolutely necessary any tree can be replaced.
The first impression of Canberra from the north is of trees.
Take a very hot day, take a small crowd of press and politicians and a few designers – and where would you head on a day of 36 degrees in Canberra.
Let’s start with the reality of this claim. Lake George is not in the ACT.
Far too many topics are not being handled honestly and openly in the public discourse.
The high line just keeps on being a wonderful concept – click here for the latest developments.
Turkey is losing precious green areas and open spaces as the number and scope of construction projects continue to expand.
Recent construction projects launched all over Turkey have fueled public concern as they destroy not only habitat but also cultural heritage. click here
The writers cover most topics including: health, the environment, education, migration, science and the economy. It is definitely worth the time to make your way through them.
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.
This is a job well done. I saw an article about this and was determined to have a look. Now if only they had been sensible and given an address.
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.
Paul Costigan, 20 August
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.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the country, and aircraft noise is a problem in the surrounding cities. Low-frequency ground noise created at take-off is especially difficult to combat because standard noise barriers are largely ineffective against it. Schiphol is implementing acoustical landscaping in the form of large ridges that dampen longer wavelengths.
I spotted this YouTube introduction to the Far East Organization Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
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.
I came across this garden when looking through the short listed projects for the World Architecture Awards to be announced in Singapore in early October 2014. At first I was very impressed with the technical qualities and that it was a form of the old fashioned maze, but done with plants in a more sustainable manner.
I later searched for more on this and realised that it was very much a decorative maze in a resort in Vietnam. The resort being a re-use of a former French colonial resort. Below I have given a report on this garden from World Landscape Architecture.
How the liveability of our cities means designers and planners working with the landscape rather than against it.
A video, about six and half minutes, introducing the concept of valuing landscape and the link to liveable settlements.
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.
Dealing with contemporary planning agencies has become a very stressful task for any person with concerns for their immediate and future urban environments.
(part of the series on the 2014 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference
“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?
click here for the full article.
Paul Costigan, 17 June 2014
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
The web site has limited information – click here. Still worth a look through the pages and images.
The celebration includes those women who photographed the gardens.
Now all I need is a ticket to New York to provide a review of the exhibition.
Paul Costigan, 24 May 2014
There’s an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot titled:
Can you put a price on the beauty of the natural world?
Those who reduce nature to a column of figures play to an agenda that ignores its inherent value – and seeks to destroy it
To which one response online was: Great article George.
The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.
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.
There’s many a piece of research and publication about the links between access to parks and people’s health and wellbeing. Any urban area that includes ample public green spaces will always be sought after and the benefits are evident in the community attitudes towards their residential areas. Parks enhance the sense of community.
Most Australian urban areas usually have had parks provided as part of the urban infrastructure. However in too many cases these parks and open spaces end up not being maintained well and sadly many also become places of neglect.
from the online – Foreign Affairs, April 2014
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.
The evidence is out there. “A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.”
Yet governments continue to play down the message in order for short term political gain. The article is definitely worth a read, not to become alarmed, but to become more informed of the need to rethink the way we do business. click here.
a presentation put online by the UK Landscape Institute. Enjoy!
To quote from the article on The Nature of Cities” : The arguments for an urban Sustainable Development Goal are many. Urbanization has the ability to transform the social and economic fabric of nations and cities are responsible for the bulk of production and consumption worldwide, and are the primary engines of economic growth and development. Roughly three-quarters of global economic activity is urban, and as the urban population grows, so will the urban share of global GDP and investments.
The right to development for low-income and middle-income countries can only be realized through sustainable urbanization that addresses the needs of both rural and urban areas. It must also be recognized that cities are home to extreme deprivation and environmental degradation with one billion people living in slums. In many countries the number of slum dwellers has increased significantly in recent years, and urban inequality is deepening. see the full article here
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.
There is book review on the Guardian site. This is timely as Australia government goes through all sorts of actions to set the clock back on environmental issues. I dread what chance anyone would have right now of confronting this government over the long-term treatment of our soils, our biodiversity; in fact anything at all to do with nature.
Referring to a posting on The Nature of Cities: Involving Children in the Design of Park Renovations to Create Green Places for Play with Urban Nature
Locally there have been several wonderful initiatives that have delivered wetlands to local neighbourhoods. These developments were very much welcomed and have become destination for people taking walks.
The new wetlands were primarily established to become catchments for run off water that had previously been channeled into 1960s concrete drains straight down through the suburbs into the lake. Water is now being partially diverted along the way to provide storage as well as being piped off site to other large water tanks for other irrigation purposes.
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.
I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.
As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.
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.
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.
re-posted from Philly.com
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
it is a good document – but warning – it is 10 MB – may take a moment to download Continue reading LIFE and Soil protection
From the Guardian (Friday 24 January): This Australia day, us underdogs will fight Big Coal to save Maules Creek. In the battle that is gripping my community, my fifth generation farming family and I are siding with traditional owners and environmentalists against miners to save the land we love; an article by Phil Laird.
This Australia Day, many of us will gather to reflect on and celebrate what’s great about our democracy. It’s our good fortune as a nation to be blessed with abundant natural resources that are our common wealth. Our fertile land, clean air and water underpin our country’s agricultural heritage, which has fed and clothed us. Australia’s native wildlife is unique, and the bush where Australians walk, fish, hunt and camp is habitat for the animals that are emblems of the country itself. Traditional owners of the country have the longest continuing culture in the world, and a connection to the bush that goes back tens of thousands of years. click here for the Guardian Article
While sustainable settlements debates more often than not focus on such key issues as climate change, carbon, energy, green infrastructure, weather etc, emphasis must also remain on the rights of children to have access to play.
It is overdue that planning and development legislation to be inclusive of the ‘need to create time and space for children to engage in spontaneous play, recreation and creativity, and to promote societal attitudes that support and encourage such activity’ (1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child article 31).
The problem has been that play has been a separated issue for planning. At worst it is a token of optional matter to be addressed. The contemporary view is that whether the planning is for a street, a park, a suburb or any form of redevelopment of urban areas, play and the rights for children to have access to safe and engaging recreation must be as important as the rest of the requirements. This is rarely the case.
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.
Reporting on research being undertaken
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.
Living in an urban area with green spaces such as parks has a long-lasting positive impact on people’s mental well-being, a study has suggested. UK researchers found moving to a green space had a sustained positive effect, unlike pay rises or promotions, which only provided a short-term boost.
The authors said the results indicated that access to good quality urban parks was beneficial to public health. The findings appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Re-posted from The Nature of Cities
Cities and biodiversity and national parks.
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.
Cities and Urban Wildlife
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.