Vision for greener cities by 2020

A new campaign is pushing to boost greenery across Australian cities after new research revealed community complacency is the biggest hindrance to more urban canopies.

A lack of awareness in the community on what councils are doing to boost urban greening is the biggest roadblock to greener cities, according to new research, which also found many residents don’t understand the terms used by councils in urban greening plans.

The research, from 202020 Vision, a campaign to increase greenery by 20 per cent across Australian cities by 2020, found that while an overwhelming 92 per cent of residents support urban greening, 72 per cent don’t know if their council is actively pursuing plans to boost greenery.

More than two thirds also said they were either unwilling, unable or indifferent about lobbying councils to increase greenery, while 59 per cent said the same about volunteering to maintain green spaces.

Valli Morphett, CEO of the CoDesign Studio, an urban consultancy working with Vision 202020, said the findings suggest councils need to raise awareness in the community of the value of urban greening and the work they’re doing.

“These results suggest councils need to engage more with their communities to explain their role and current activities regarding urban green space to garner their support,” he said.

The research also found a number of residents were oblivious to who is responsible for urban greening work, with 55 per cent unaware of who looks after their local green spaces.

“There has long been a disconnect between community action and council initiative, despite both groups prioritising green space for broadly the same reasons including aesthetics, recreation, mental and physical health benefits,” said Mr Morphett.

As well as being complacent, the study found councils were often speaking a different language to residents when it comes to greening work, with only one quarter of residents saying they understand the majority of terms used by councils when they communicate their greening plans.

New toolkit for councils

The findings indicate the need for more engagement with the community by councils, Mr Morphett says.

This lack of understanding is what prompted Vision 202020 to launch a new community engagement kit specifically designed to help councils overcome communication barriers to urban greening strategies.

The kit includes a ten-step guide to help aid meaningful collaboration between residents and councils and includes posters, signs and artwork which can be attached to trees, as well as advertising assets.

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