New tool helps plan resilient urban greening projects

Researchers from Macquarie and Western Sydney universities have developed a new tool to help local government work out which plants will survive and thrive in various locations over the next 50 years.

Gwilym Griffiths

Program manager Gwilym Griffiths, the former urban forest and ecology manager for Inner West Council, says the Which Plant Where tool is a key resource for future-proofing urban greening projects.

The website, funded by not-for-profit research and development corporation Hort Innovation and launched last week, is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia.

It was developed during a five year research project which included compiling a database of more than 2,600 plant species, as well as simulated greenhouses testing and 12 ‘living labs’ across Australia.

“The database is really comprehensive, you can look up heights, tolerances, whether it’s suitable as a street tree, or a park tree. Combining all that information with climate data makes this a really powerful tool,” Mr Griffiths told Government News.

Ensuring resilient landscapes

Mr Griffith says the tool can be used by arborists and urban forest teams to identify which of their existing inventory is likely to do well in the future, and to align future planting with the changing environment.

Landscape architects and capital project teams, meanwhile, can use the tool to check off planting palettes and make sure the plants they are selecting are going to be resilient.

“A lot of people rely on past experience – you build up a palette of plants that you keep in your back pocket because you know they do well and are interesting plants to use,” Mr Griffiths says.

“But that can be a dangerous approach. What worked in the past might not work in the future, because we are going to see changes in the plants that are surviving, and the tool’s demonstrating that already.

“The biggest mistake people make when planning for green spaces is failing to select the tree that’s going to reach peak performance in a particular location, and the tool’s going to help that.”

The tool will provide a valuable resource when making choices about sustainable urban greening, developers say.

Climate change scenarios

Which Plant Where also provides best practice guides on topics including plant selection, procurement and urban tree management, as well as maps highlighting changes in climate suitability for plants under predicted climate change scenarios in 2030, 2050 and 2070.

Subscribers will also be able to build plant palettes, access information such as carbon and shade values and download a spreadsheet to send to the nursery to check for availability.

Access the tool here .

To book a demonstration on how to use Which Plant Where contact

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