Stirling Urban Tree Network: Urban planning must include trees

Scientist Paul Barber with Ruffein Tshiamala, Leisha Jack and Sean Heathcote-Marks of the Stirling Urban Tree Network. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au   d443082
Scientist Paul Barber with Ruffein Tshiamala, Leisha Jack and Sean Heathcote-Marks of the Stirling Urban Tree Network. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d443082

RECENTLY formed community group the Stirling Urban Tree Network is hoping to raise awareness about the important benefits of urban trees and the role of trees in reducing effects of urban heat.

Group convener Leisha Jack said the urban heat island effect was a product of society’s attitudes towards trees.

“We have designed treeless airconditioning-dependent homes and businesses,” Ms Jack said.

“Even if global temperatures stopped rising, our urban temperatures will continue to rise, because of population growth and infill, unless we change the way we design our homes and suburbs.

“Heatwaves often lead to black-outs in summer due to increased energy consumption from air conditioning, which overloads the grid.”

Ms Jack said the group was asking for residents, developers and business owners to contact them with comments or suggestions.

“It is possible to have big trees and density, they used to retain and build around existing trees in the past, we are going to have to learn to do that again and build up rather than out, to leave room for trees,” she said.

Group member and real estate agent Sean Heathcote-Marks said trees greatly increased property value.

“Trees without a doubt add value to a property,” Mr Heathcote-Marks said.

“I’ve got lots of records to show that houses with developed trees and gardens will sell.

“It’s subliminal but there’s a switch that’s flicked when people walk into a leafy suburb, they’re prepared to pay more,

“Without trees there’s no character or atmosphere.”