The Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) has called for increased investment in green infrastructure to adress heat-related deaths in Melbourne.
A study from Thomas Longden at University of Technology Sydney showed Melbourne has the highest rate of heat-related deaths out of all Australian capital cities. AILA's Victorian Chapter president Adrian Gray believes this issue is not currently being addressed at the urban design and planning stages.
“With Victorians dying from heatwaves due the high temperatures we experience, the topic of cooling the city is a must for the political agenda to save lives and improve liveability," says Gray.
“Steps can be taken at planning, policy and urban design phases to lowering temperatures in Melbourne which include increasing the tree canopy cover across all of Melbourne, revising tree clearance guidelines and implementing planning scheme protection for all trees across Melbourne."
The campaign statement from AILA notes that over half of the surfaces in Melbourne are heat absorbing materials including darker coloured roofs, car parks, roadways and footpaths despite research showing that cooler places enable people to live longer through improved air quality, reduced c02 emissions and the resistance to heat related deaths.
“Even those suburbs that are renowned as ‘leafy’ face the threat of losing that status with increased housing density, reduced backyard size with subdivisions and the rising number of cars driving down streets," says Gray.
Other key areas of AILA's campaign statement are increasing active transport systems to promote a healthy city such as more walking and bike paths to promote active travel and healthy cities as well as the improvement of access to nature.
“Melbourne needs to become less car-oriented with walking trails, bike paths and pedestrian access requiring improvement. Cities need to support human health and wellbeing and one way this can be achieved is by increasing investment via green infrastructure, urban design and improving mandatory requirements for green infrastructure in the planning scheme," adds Gray.