Where should all the trees go?

Imagine having to look at 139,000 photos, and decide if they’re mostly of grass, trees, or hard surfaces.

That’s what a team of researchers has spent the past few months doing, as part of the project Where should all the trees go? An investigation of the impact of tree canopy cover on socio-economic status and wellbeing in LGAs (NY16005).

It follows on from the 2014 report Where are all the trees? – which created Australia’s first national baseline measurement of tree canopy cover – and will update and compare those figures for each of Australia’s 139 urban Local Government Areas.

The 202020 Vision team will use the comparison to help encourage conversation and collaboration between councils, developers and decision makers to better understand the existing tree canopy in their local areas and guidance on how to measure it.

RMIT University is carrying out the current work, using ultra-high resolution aerial PhotoMaps™ from Nearmap, taken from a satellite in a single month across the entire country.

Images of 1,000 random points have been selected in each of the LGAs, and then each one classed on whether it’s grass and shrubs, trees, or hard surfaces like roads, buildings and carparks.

Each council area will then be compared with the previous measure of tree cover, in an effort to see if urban greening is happening faster than development.

The project team are also working with University of Western Australia and the Data 61 Unit of CSIRO. Together, the team are gathering health and socio-economic data for each LGA, and mapping temperatures to get an idea of the ‘heat island’ effect.

The aim is to correlate tree cover against these other measures, to build an argument of the benefits of urban greening in reducing temperatures and therefore providing health benefits to the population.

Project Code: NY16005

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