Drowning in concrete.  This was a hot place to stand.

Drowning in concrete. This was a hot place to stand.

I read a wonder blog post in Resilience called, ‘The Magic of Trees’ written by Sarah Kobos.

I can’t share it all because of copyright, so I encourage you to go & read it. See – http://bit.ly/29d9YeH

She writes about walking & cycling the streets & the impact of street trees; good street trees.

It is a a hot day & Sarah is riding her bicycle along lovely tree-lined streets when…..

Unfortunately, my sanguine attitude evaporated the moment I emerged from the sanctuary of a shaded neighborhood into a treeless, asphalt furnace.  No disrespect to Joan of Arc, but at least if you get burned at the stake, it’s a dry heat.  This was more like being boiled.  And then fried.  If you built a sauna inside a kiln, it would feel something like this street. The only thing worse than biking on a treeless street on a scorching hot day is walking on one.” 

“…..So when you talk about “complete streets” and “active transportation” be sure to mention the importance of canopy trees.  Because in a hot climate, if you don’t have shade, these options are moot.  Everyone with a car is going to drive.  Everyone without a car is going to suffer, or stay home.  And if you’ve never thought about street trees as a social justice issue, an afternoon spent in the summer sun walking to (and waiting for) the bus might just change your mind.”

“….Simply put, trees matter.  And I don’t mean those shrubs people stick in parking lots to fulfill the landscaping requirements of the zoning code.  I mean real trees.  The kind that line sidewalks and create canopies over the street.  The kind that turn inhospitable environments into pleasant places for people.”

This is a superb post & one that I am sure we can all relate to.

With climate change breaking all our meteorological records in Australia, we need street trees more than ever.  It is hard out there without the comfort of our car’s air-conditioning, but it is relatively easy to fix.  We just need more street trees – good street trees with a healthy canopy that shades both the footpath & the street.

We need shade trees near bus stops, outside cafes, public spaces & in shopping strips.  We need shade trees in all places where people walk, where people wait & where people like to sit.

We also need more trees in our gardens, because this will help cool the whole block & ultimately the whole suburb if there are enough trees.  With the cost of electricity having risen once again, a tree or two in the right place in our garden will have a positive impact on our power bills.

Lastly, our parks need more trees & less concrete.  We do need concrete paths so every place is accessible, but I think a number of our parks have too much concrete.

The bottom line is that if we want a cooler environment, then we need to de-pave & plant more trees.  The Sustainable Streets program is doing well in my opinion.  Every street that has more verge gardens & less concrete is cooler, more attractive & nicer to walk along.

The community benefits, the wildlife benefits & so does our collective health.  Heat kills more people than we realise & this will become more of a known issue as our city becomes hotter.  This is why the City of Sydney is increasing their urban forest by 50%.  They know that the urban heat island effect has the potential to kill.

The Inner West Council needs to allocate more in the annual budget that will allow the increase of our urban forest.   You just need to look at the suburbs of Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle & Annandale to see what the potential is.  These suburbs are now part of our municipality.  I am sure if the residents who live in these suburbs took the 20-minute drive to where I live they would not be in any doubt that their urban forest is far superior & this is despite their narrower streets & footpaths.

While I feel sad that Marrickville Council is no longer, I am hoping that the amalgamation will bring some equity in terms of the urban forest across the whole of the new local government area. We are entitled to expect that our urban forest too can look like it does in Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle & Annandale, although it will take time.

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