Thursday, 03 December 2020 13:28

Future-proofing Western Sydney’s urban forest

Leaves burnt by summer heat Leaves burnt by summer heat Dr Paul Rymer, Western Sydney University

Media Release, 1 December 2020 WSROC will lead a project to ensure Western Sydney street trees can survive and thrive in a changing climate, thanks to a NSW Greening Our Cities Grant announced this week.

WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert, said “WSROC welcomes the NSW Government support to deliver an exciting new research project investigating how climate-tolerant tree species and passive irrigation can maximise cooling of Western Sydney streets.

“More than one third of Sydney’s urban tree species are vulnerable to summer temperatures and drought. Extreme heat and drought events are already resulting in tree die-off and many remaining trees are just holding on. Climate change is predicted to push additional species over their survival thresholds,” he said.

“When trees become stressed, they are no longer able to provide cooling benefits. Careful species selection and irrigation practices are needed to build urban forests that are both healthy and enduring.

“This issue is of particular concern in Western Sydney, where average temperatures are increasing at around double the rate of the Sydney CBD. Last summer, we saw local temperatures hit 50C. Western Sydney also cops the brunt of prolonged heat events, with the region experiencing 37 days over 35C last year, compared with six in the East,” said Clr Calvert.

Building on current research from Western Sydney University, this project will look at selecting appropriate tree species for a changing climate and incorporating passive stormwater irrigation systems to ensure trees reach a healthy mature size.

The project is a partnership between WSROC, Western Sydney University, University of Melbourne, Stormwater NSW and Blacktown and Penrith City Councils.

Dr Paul Rymer, Senior Lecturer in Plant Ecological Genetics at Western Sydney University, said “We are excited to work with councils in Western Sydney to deliver research to inform the development of Australia’s green cities of the future. It is important that we can test how different species grow and behave with and without access to passive irrigation systems in a real-world setting. We will monitor tree performance to assess growth, leaf transpiration and stress over the establishment period.  The outcomes of the project will provide important information about how we can improve urban greening and cooling strategies that prioritise resilience and liveability across Greater Sydney.”

Clr Calvert said “WSROC, together with councils and other stakeholders, has been working on initiatives that address heat in the region over several years. While greening is an important aspect to creating cooler, more resilient suburbs, it is vital to understand that that trees alone will not be able to cool our cities enough in the face of increasing heatwaves.

“Ensuring that our homes and our infrastructure can cope with extreme temperatures and keeping people comfortable and safe are of equal importance to planting and establishing more trees,” he said.

These Western Sydney councils have been awarded NSW Greening Our Cities Grants: City of Parramatta, Cumberland City Council, Hawkesbury City Council, Liverpool City Council, Penrith City Council, Blacktown City Council, The Hills Shire Council.


Image Credit: Western Sydney University

Media contact: Kate O’Connell or Kelly Gee, 02 9671 4333, 0425 871 868 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last modified on Thursday, 18 March 2021 11:18

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