A plan to save the 70,000 council-owned trees in Melbourne and continue greening the city for the future was celebrated by the industry at the 2014 Australian Institute of Landscape (AILA) Victorian Awards.

Designed by the City of Melbourne, the Urban Forest Strategy and Precinct Plans was developed in 2012 to establish a new legacy for the city and a strategic framework that creates a forest for current and future generations.

This urban forest is envisioned to be diverse, robust and resilient in the face of climate change, urban densification and the impacts of urban heat island (UHI).

Melbourne’s tree population, which is worth around $650 million, is currently under threat from more than a decade of drought, water restrictions and periodof extreme heat – a problem compounded by an ageing tree stock.

This has led to expectations that 27 per cent of its current tree population will be lost in the next decade, and 44 per cent in the 20 years.

Formulated in response to these issues, the plan aims to adapt the city to climate change and bring inner-city temperatures down to mitigate UHI effects. It also seeks to create healthier ecosystems and become a more water-sensitive city. These are to be achieved by a range of strategies, including increasing canopy cover to 40 per cent by 2040, increasing forest diversity and improving soil moisture, vegetation health and biodiversity.

“The Urban Forest Strategy and Precinct Plans provide an exemplar of how to transform policy into practice to create a distinctive and liveable city, whilst providing a common ground for sharing and building community links to place,” praised the AILA.

“The project marks a transformational change in the way the urban forest is considered and managed in the city. By demonstrating the essential social and economic and environmental services that trees provide, the strategy clearly articulates the benefits that nature can deliver in creating liveable cities.

“The strategy expounds the significant contribution that a Green Infrastructure design-led approach can make towards addressing social, environmental and economic issues in our urban environment whilst also contributing to climate change resilience.”

Find out more about the project here

A project that has revitalised central Dandenong has also won kudos at the AILA Vic Awards, with Rush Wright & Associates taking home the Design in Landscape Architecture Excellence Award for their Dandenong Civic Centre.

According to the awards jury, the public square created under the Central Dandenong urban renewal initiative could have easily been dominated by the neo-brutalist architecture of the adjacent Lyons-designed Dandenong Civic Centre and Library.

However, the fine grain of its paving design and splashes of colour has worked to give the square a strong, warm and welcoming presence.

The paving motif, done in collaboration with Material Thinking, was created from fabric patterns found around Dandenong. In the centre of the square a grid of mature araucarias provide definition and intimacy, and a large public screen ensures a constant sense of activity.

Full list of award winners:

The Victoria Medal for Landscape Architecture

City of Melbourne Urban Forest Strategy and Precinct Plans – City of Melbourne

Key Partners: Jenny Rayment, Grapevine Design – Ron Jones, Jones & Whitehead, Australian Centre for Urban Ecology

Design in Landscape Architecture Excellence Award

Dandenong Civic Centre – Rush Wright & Associates

Design Awards

MacKenzie Falls Gorge Trail – Hansen Partnership

Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza – Convic

Afghan Bazaar Cultural Precinct – HASSELL/Sinatra Murphy

Deakin University Central Spine Precinct – Rush Wright & Associates

Burnley Living Roofs – HASSELL

Urban Design Awards

Surabaya Urban Corridor Development Program – Hansen Partnership

Edna Walling Award for Residential Designed Landscape

Cubo Rear Garden – Simon Ellis Landscape Architects

Key partners: Phooey Architects

Planning in Landscape Architecture Excellence Award

Converting Roads to Parks Program – City of Yarra

Planning Award

Summerland Peninsula Infrastructure & Procurement Master Plan – TRACT Consultants

Key partners: Peter Elliott Architecture & Urban Design, Urban Enterprise, Cardno Grogan Richards Slattery Australia, Sanmor & Associates

Land Management in Landscape Architecture

Gum Scrub Creek, Officer – Outlines Landscape Architecture

Key partners: Brown Consulting, Neil Craigie, BIOSIS, Peter Gannon, Melbourne Water, DEWHA, DEPICRC

Research & Communication in Landscape Architecture

Urban Voices – Urban Initiatives

Key partners: Bruce Echerg, Leila Griffiths, John Byrne, Bill Chandler

Research & Communication Award

The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne Project – Inner Melbourne Action Plan & The University of Melbourne

Key partners: City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, City of Stonnington, City of Port Phillip

President’s Award

Making Sense of Landscape – Taylor Cullity Lethlean

Start with the Grasslands – Adrian Marshall