Heat on in City as shade fades


Perth local governments and their percentage of tree canopy coverage.
City of Belmont lost 161,800sq m of tree canopy area.
Heat on in City as shade fades
Perth local governments and their percentage of tree canopy coverage. City of Belmont lost 161,800sq m of tree canopy area.

Aerial surveying is under way this month to determine if the situation has improved since the City implemented its urban forest strategy 18 months ago.

The strategy was introduced in 2014, not only for aesthetic reasons, but to combat the impact of urban heat island (UHI) effect.

UHI effect is particularly noticeable in cities with populations over one million and is the result of a combination of factors like dark surfaces, hot air trapped between buildings and limited tree cover.

A recent report shows average annual air temperatures in dense urban areas are one to three degrees hotter than greener areas while in the evenings the difference can be up to 12C.

Perth-wide, the incremental loss of vegetation has been compounded by the push for higher residential densities to cater for the growing population – meaning smaller yards and often fewer trees.

City of Belmont has set a target to revegetate tree canopy to the 2001 level of 12.05 per cent, however it has set no timeframe for achieving its goal.

Last year, City of Belmont approved 61 planning applications for multi-dwelling developments two storeys or higher – not including subdivision approvals.

This financial year, City of Belmont has budgeted $100,000 to progress its urban forest strategy.

City of Belmont chief executive Stuart Cole said several efforts to replenish tree canopy proportions had started, including new trees in parks as part of the park upgrade program.

“It also plants new trees on street verges and will be planting trees on Housing Authority properties and street verges in Rivervale in winter 2016,” he said.

“Residents can request a tree from the City for their street verge at any time.”

According to a Climate Council report released last week, Australia needs an urgent whole of government response to the rise in heat-related deaths.

The release of the report, The Silent Killer: Climate Change and the Health Impacts of Extreme Heat, coincided with a summit of 24 health experts in Melbourne.

According to the report, the number of record hot days in Australia has doubled in the past 50 years and heatwaves have become longer, hotter and more intense.

Heatwaves have killed more Australians than any other natural hazard and have caused more deaths since 1890 than bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined.

Summit co-chair Liz Hanna said a comprehensive and streamlined response to the increasing dangers of extreme heat would save lives.