A new research report from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has found Hobart, Brisbane and Darwin’s CBD councils performing better than Sydney and Melbourne in urban greening with the highest percentage of tree canopy cover among all Australian cities.

‘Where Are All The Trees’, a new report from the 202020 Vision analyses tree canopy cover in Australia’s most urban, dense, local government areas (LGAs). The 202020 Vision is a collaborative initiative between business, governments and community groups to increase green space in urban areas by 20 per cent by 2020.

According to Dr Anthony Kachenko, Research and Market Development Manager, National Urban Forest Alliance (NUFA), the report is significant since such a national analysis that has tracked and measured the number of trees in Australia’s most dense urban areas has never been done before.

Dr Kachenko observes that trees and urban green spaces have the unique ability to improve the environment, save lives, mitigate the risks of climate change, and provide significant cost savings across the economy. Governments across all levels as well as several businesses are looking to mitigate the critical effects and costs of significant changes to the climate, lowered productivity, environmental degradation and ill-health, such as obesity and mental illness.

Extensive global research underlines the importance of maintaining and increasing high-quality green space in cities, given the positive impact on the environment, productivity and society, especially with benefits such as reduced pollution, improved air quality, decreased utility costs, more efficient water management, increased commercial productivity, better health and wellbeing outcomes, and more cohesive community spaces.

The research for the report was conducted by UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), led by Dr Brent Jacobs, utilising a software program called i-Tree Canopy to analyse the amount of tree canopy cover in 139 of Australia’s most urban LGAs, which are home to 68 per cent of the country’s population.

The report also analyses grass and bare ground coverage such as lawns, industrial estates and sporting grounds, and hard surfaces such as buildings, asphalt, water and coastlines. These findings indicate the possibly significant opportunities for councils to turn older industrial areas into community parklands or green rooftops.