Lack of community support and awareness is impeding the implementation of urban green strategies, according to new research by 202020 Vision.
202020 Vision is a national initiative involving over 400 organisations that are collaborating to increase urban green spaces by 20 percent by 2020, and help create greener, healthier and more liveable cities.
Back on the road for their bi-annual Australian urban forestry roadshow, 202020 Vision is focussing on community engagement to address communication barriers, create more awareness, increase community involvement and help councils successfully implement urban greening strategies.
The Growing Together tour will launch a new community engagement kit consisting of a comprehensive ten-step guide to aid meaningful collaboration and change, as well as a readymade campaign that councils can use online and in the real world. The kit includes posters, signs and artwork for attaching straight to trees, plus advertising assets.
According to the 202020 Vision research paper titled ‘Who’s with us?’, the study, which took feedback from 1600+ Australians on green space revealed that the majority of people (92 percent) supported urban greening; however, most (72 percent) didn’t know if their local council was actively pursuing the expansion of urban green space in their area and over half (55 percent) were unaware of who looked after their local green spaces.
Most people were also unwilling, unable, or indifferent to volunteering in the maintenance of urban green spaces (59 percent) or in lobbying local government to increase the amount of this space (67 percent).
CoDesign Studio CEO Valli Morphett observes that there has been a disconnect between community action and council initiative, despite both groups prioritising green space for broadly the same reasons including aesthetics, recreation, and mental and physical health benefits. Councils, therefore, needed to engage more with their communities to explain their role and current activities regarding urban green space.
One of the core issues identified by the study was that councils and developers weren’t on the same page about green space; meanwhile, this is lost on the community altogether with less than 25 percent of those surveyed understanding the majority of terms used by councils when they communicate their urban greening plans.
This problem can be addressed by councils through improved communication with the community and by giving them accessible ways to participate in the conversation on green space.
Various councils across the country have successfully worked with local communities to implement urban greening programs by creating ownership of, and engagement with environmental initiatives.
The City of Brisbane’s tree giveaway program, which has provided over 600,000 plants and trees over the last 10 years, has encouraged the community to think about how they can play a role in greening their neighbourhoods.
Waverley Council’s new Living Connections initiative, which aims to connect habitat corridors throughout the local government area, works with residents to create fauna-friendly gardens and give them the autonomy to survey bird visitation and maintain their new plants.
The City of Vincent’s adopt-a-tree or verge program encourages residents to sign up to care for a specific tree or verge within their community, providing ownership over public spaces and allowing individuals to get involved without having to invest in or change their own space.