Experts meet in Sydney to share vision for greener cities

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

The challenges and opportunities to make our cities greener and more liveable in the future were under the spotlight earlier this month, as key representatives from local and state government, universities, industry and business converged on Old Government House in Parramatta.

It marked the fourth event of the Green Light Tour: a national roadshow funded by the nursery industry to build capacity in local councils by sharing with them the latest policy updates and research findings, as well as best practice case studies on greening.

The Green Light Tour aims to deliver the findings of the nursery industry’s latest research report ‘Where Should All The Trees Go’ and bring together key decision makers and councils to progress their urban forest strategies and greening projects.

Key themes included the need for increased community education, the growing pressure of streets to deliver a myriad of services, and why a long-term vision for urban greening is vital.

The first speaker was NSW Commissioner for Open Space & Parklands, Fiona Morrison, who oversees a number of green projects and is helping to deliver the NSW Government’s ‘Five Million Trees’ initiative.

Turning ideas into action was a key theme of Fiona’s presentation, which also included examples of urban greening at the local level, like Penrith Council planting more than 96,000 trees in recent years.

Environment Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission Rod Simpson reiterated the importance of education as a vehicle to drive understanding about why green space was vital as well to answer hard questions around wildlife, bushfires, parking and other community concerns.

The presentation explored the ‘tale of the three cities’ in Sydney and highlighted that future tree plantings must be strategic, systemic and place based, citing the new Western Parklands City as a prime example.

Local councils from across NSW and Victoria also provided practical case studies including NSW’s Sutherland Shire which has 102 new projects underway and is planting 8,034 trees.

For Sutherland, getting internal stakeholders on board ensured their policies aligned with their urban greening goals. Council employees also had access to the right tools and locations to plant trees, which meant residents were more supportive of their tree planting programs.

Councils found that tailoring messages about green infrastructure to different audiences was effective, including the way it can help boost residential values; increase health and wellbeing; and decrease energy costs.

Participants heard about the use of sophisticated data and heat mapping tools by the Parramatta Ways project to make an informed and consultative decision on where to plant future street trees.

The newly amalgamated Inner West Council, which stretches from Balmain to the Cooks River in Tempe, is currently planting 1,000 trees each year. The council had a strong focus on good planning and education on why trees were important for the community.

All councils agreed that maximising any opportunity to plant trees was vital and greater collaboration with nurseries, civil engineers, developers and builders meant that green infrastructure would be more strategic and gain greater acceptance in the community.

The final presentation of the day was delivered by Leigh Staas, on behalf of the Which Plant Where research group, a Green Cities co-funded project investigating the landscaping species which will cope under the more extreme climates that Australia’s cities will face in the future.

More details about new species and varieties for the urban context will be made available as the project progresses. Stay tuned on Your Levy for key updates or visit the official website at

If you have any feedback or questions about the day, please get in touch with the team at

See the full list of speakers and their presentations from the five-city Green Light Tour here.

Project code: NY17000