A new research report on the 202020 Vision Policy Guide has identified the Top Ten Challenges preventing greener and more liveable cities in Australia.
Conducted by Josh Byrne & Associates for Horticulture Innovation Australia, the study found that the lack of formal recognition of the value and importance of plants and trees in cities by the Federal Government was the single biggest challenge to overcome.
Inconsistent policies, excessive clearing, poor planning decisions and lack of incentives for truly innovative and world class green infrastructure developments had left the 202020 Vision’s 400-strong network members and organisations frustrated and confused, leading to the emergence of the three-part Policy Guide.
The Policy Guide not only recognises major policy ‘pain points’ but also identifies opportunities for all levels of government as well as the private sector to overcome them and realise the health, economic, cooling and productivity benefits of urban greening.
Gregory Priest, Project Manager – Policy & Strategy, Josh Byrne & Associates explains that this national level support is required to provide guidance as well as a real incentive for State and Local Governments to align with national objectives.
While this gap in policy has been, to some extent, acknowledged by recent Federal Government policy documents including the Australian Infrastructure Plan, the Smart Cities Plan and The Sustainable Cities Investment Fund, all of which recognise the value of urban green space, they do not provide concrete recommendations for action, says Priest.
According to the research, the local government being the key provider of green space is well positioned to create change but the structures and policies in place that protect and create green space vary greatly around Australia, often leading to uncertainty about the ability of local governments to create real change.
Crosbie Lorimer, Director at Clouston Associates observes that State and Territory governments play an important policy role in supporting green space; however, the insufficient regulatory structures in place to protect existing green space have led to tree loss from urban development pressures including urban infill, which has resulted in the loss of Australia’s iconic gardens and yards.
The lack of clear urban development policy guidance from States to promote creation of new green space in Greenfield developments may additionally result in the provision of smaller residential blocks, which cannot support healthy gardens.
However, the research study reveals broad support for improving mechanisms to support green space. There is significant opportunity for coordinated responses to challenges with states and territories learning much from each other and the green space industry and stakeholders having a wealth of knowledge and experience to support improved policy and planning structures.
Key recommendations from the report include the need for State, Territory and Local Government to improve their understanding, planning and management of current and future urban green spaces.
Observing that ‘Improved Land Use Policy’ is also a key recommendation, Cathy Oke, Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, University of Melbourne, states that implementation of clear guidance for the provision of adequate green space requirements within State level urban land use and development policies would provide local governments with a firm policy basis through which they can work with developers to provide sufficient green space within communities.
Oke added that embedding urban green space protection and enhancement principles in existing national, state and territory legislation and encouraging developers and architects to integrate green spaces within urban building design and construction practices would further assist in creating a more coherent understanding of green space.
The 202020 Vision have released a The three-part Policy Guide developed from the Identification of Barriers to Adoption of 202020 Vision Goals research report by consultants Josh Byrne & Associates for Horticulture Innovation Australia. They’re below:
The 202020 Vision Policy Guide 1: The Playing Field
Here the team outline the regulatory playing field, including the government departments and influencers responsible for setting the rules and regulations.
The 202020 Vision Policy Guide 2: Rules & Regulations
Here the team outline the rules and regulations one needs to understand in order to create more and better green space..
The 202020 Vision Policy Guide 3: Top Ten Opportunities
Here the team look at the top ten opportunities to improve current rules and regulations in order to make it easier and more attractive to create green space projects.
Image: The 202020 Vision is a national initiative to increase urban green space by 20 per cent by 2020 and is funded through a levy by the sale of plants and trees.