The papers presented at the 2015 State of Australian Cities National Conference (SOAC 7) were organised into seven broad themes but all shared, to varying degrees, a common focus on the ways in which high quality academic research can be used in the development and implementation of policy.
As cities grapple with the impacts of heatwaves, exacerbated by the urban heat island effect and progressively amplified by climate change impacts, green spaces can cool urban areas, as well as providing many other functions and benefits to city dwellers’ health and wellbeing, and habitat for urban biodiversity.
Cities are complex and dynamic social-ecological systems; both human and ecological systems are in mutual interaction. As a social-ecological system, a city’s form and structure can change over time. The transcendence and durability of cities is in fact due to their continuous change.
In Australia, there is an increasing interest in using extensive green roofs to make buildings more sustainable and provide a number of social, ecological, aesthetic and thermal benefits to cities. The potential of green roofs to reduce building energy consumption has been extensively studied overseas in a variety of different climates.
Urban green space provides multiple benefits to city dwellers— both human and non-human. These ‘nature-based solutions’ include mitigating urban heat and stormwater runoff, providing biodiversity habitat and contributing to human health and wellbeing, and social and cultural processes, which are key elements in creating ecological cities.
Theories of sustainability transitions aim to explain the processes, pathways and actors that are involved in transformations in technologies and practices. Whilst there is a growing body of research developing theoretical understandings, there has been less documented on how theories are utilised and applied by practitioners themselves.
As cities grapple with the impacts of heatwaves, exacerbated by the urban heat island effect and amplified by climate change impacts, green spaces can cool urban areas, as well as provide health and wellbeing benefits to city dwellers and habitat for biodiversity.
Australian cities contain millions of trees that provide amenity, important ecosystem services such as cooling and slowing stormwater, and provide habitat for birds and animals. There is growing recognition that increasing temperatures due to urban heat and climate change are a threat to some tree species in our cities.
This Urban forest horizon scanning research aims to further the knowledge of the potential changes to species, resources and conditions facing future urban forests, through a horizon scanning exercise involving end-users and researchers from CAUL Hub and other institutions.
Trees and green spaces are essential for urban sustainability and liveability, but so is planting the right things in the right places...
Read the full article on the University of Melbourne's Pursuit site.