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30,000 Trees to Fight Urban Heat

Oct 27, 2023

In a bid to combat the stifling urban heat, Western Sydney University (WSU) has teamed up with Creating Canopies to plant 30,000 native trees at Hawkesbury Campus over the next three years. The first step in this green journey took place last week as students swapped textbooks and lecture halls for gardening gloves, planting 2,000 trees in one day.

In the coming weeks, an additional 7,000 trees are set to take root at WSU, bringing the total number of new trees planted in 2023 to 10,000. 

Executive Director of Resilience and Urban Sustainability at the Department of Planning and Environment Steve Hartley said the tree-planting initiative would aid communities in coping with extreme heat and escalating temperatures due to climate change.

“Growing our urban tree canopy reduces land surface temperatures, provides cleaner air, and improves the local habitat for native birds,” Hartley said. 

The tree-planting campaign is a pivotal element of WSU’s comprehensive sustainability initiatives, as outlined in its decadal strategy, Sustainability and Resilience 2030. 

WSU Professor Barney Glover AO, Vice Chancellor and President of WSU said they were delighted to partner with Greater Sydney Landcare for this program.

“This is a significant step in Western Sydney University’s ongoing journey toward becoming nature-positive by 2029 and a testament to our commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship,” Glover stated. The university recently achieved its ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2023 and has been recognized as the world leader for social, economic, and environmental impact in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for two consecutive years.

Glover said planting more trees on campus aligns with the university’s vision for a flourishing Western Sydney region and addresses the challenges posed by urban heat. “We are pleased to work hand-in-hand with our local communities to lead the way in driving climate action and help create a more sustainable and resilient future for all,” he said.

Western Sydney University students planted at Hawkesbury Campus with Greater Sydney Landcare’s Creating Canopies team. Photo: Greater Sydney Landcare.

Greater Sydney Landcare, the driving force behind these tree-planting events, is executing its Creating Canopies project with the backing of the NSW Government. This initiative aims to plant 200,000 trees in Greater Sydney by 2025 to combat urban heat. 

Creating Canopies Project Manager for Greater Sydney Landcare, Danielle Packer said partnering with the university was invaluable as it provided a space for planting and a dedicated army of tree planters.

Packer said Greater Sydney Landcare contributes expertise from bush regenerators and ecologists to determine the most suitable locally native species for each site. They also handle the procurement of plants, site preparation, and volunteer training. Moreover, they go the extra mile by performing follow-up maintenance to ensure the highest possible survival rate for these plantings.

“Creating Canopies is about partnering with private and public landowners and volunteers to plant 200,000 locally native trees across Greater Sydney by the end of 2025,” Packer said. By prioritising planting in local government areas with less than 30 percent canopy cover, they aim to mitigate urban heat by nurturing trees that will provide shade and cooling in the years to come.

 

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