WATCH: Heat and drought tolerant plants for urban greenspace

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The team at Which Plant Where (WPW) hosted a webinar on 22 June 2021 to discuss how to best plan for urban greenspaces by using heat and drought tolerant plants that will be resilient in predicted warmer, drier climates.

This webinar has now been made available for anyone to watch via this link (password: whichplantwhere#21).

Facilitated by co-project leads, Professor David Ellsworth, Professor Michelle Leishman and assisted by Post Doctorate Researcher Dr Alessandro Ossola, the webinar showcased the beta version of the WPW Plant Selector Tool which aims to help users make smarter plant investments that focus on climate longevity, suitability, sustainability, and amenity value.

Key insights from the webinar included:

  • Climate change and extreme climate events are outstripping abilities to choose the right plant for the right place.
  • Evidence has been built about plants with heat and drought tolerance to enhance resilience in our urban plantings.
  • The process of finding and selecting ‘climate-ready’ plants involves a trade-off: for more detailed information the number of species & varieties possible to test are limited.
  • The WPW team has collected data over the last 5 years so that the following approaches can be used: climate matching, drought tolerance indicator traits, and scientific experiments (measuring thresholds for heat and drought).
  • Sharing information on how plants do in heat or drought extremes and encouraged the adoption of the WPW webtool.

The final Plant Selector Tool is set to be launched in spring 2021, giving users access to a list of recommendations that enables the creation of pallets of plants showcasing the plant species diversity, biodiversity benefits, shade value and the carbon sequestering abilities of a minimum of ten plants within a specified project.

Through uptake of the tool, it’s expected that the nursery industry will see increased demand for plants with future sustainability and reliability in the changing climate, which will only continue to grow as councils and developers rethink the future of urban planning using the Tool.

The project team are calling on the nursery industry to provide images of various plant species to incorporate in the online Plant Selector Tool.

For more information and to send images, please contact Leigh Staas at leigh.staas@mq.edu.au.