street trees and biodiversity to cool our cities

Changing the view of a common nature strip from unloved barren grass and weeds like this…

A normal footpath, street tree, footpath, cut low with edges trimmed.

… to valued places with street trees for shade, and low-growing native plants for habitat and biodiversity, stretching throughout our suburbs is our goal.

Planting out nature strips in this way brings far-reaching benefits including…

  • walkable suburbs – cool, shady, interesting, safe with physical and mental health benefits from active transport
  • creating and connecting habitat for wildlife
  • climate change mitigation with increased rainwater and carbon storage in the soil
  • mitigation of the urban heat island effect
  • active citizenry – engaging residents with their streetscapes and each other
  • physical and mental health benefits from connection with nature as a normal part of life
  • reduction of noise and emissions from mowers, blowers, hedgers
  • reduction of emissions from cars as active transport becomes more viable and attractive
  • and more opportunities discussed when we consider all the stakeholders

Shaded streets reduce the urban heat island effect (and air-con bills)

Streets lined with shade trees with an understory of native shrubs and flowers provide habitat and pollinator corridors. The trees in the gardens thrive without having to compete with grass and whipper-snippers. Streets are cooler for pedestrians and cyclists, so encourage active transport and reduce car use.

Walkable streets have physical and mental health benefits.

Paths with trees and nature strips make streets walkable – cooler and more interesting. Connecting with nature, and their neighbours, as they go about their lives is beneficial to the mental health of both adults and children. Children walk or cycle to school with associated benefits to health and independence.

Local, meaningful jobs.

As well as individual gardens created by volunteer residents, creation of verge gardens can be done by local social enterprises, local micro-businesses, or local organisations. Creating jobs close to where people live means there is no lengthy commuting and extra traffic on the roads. Hours are flexible. Workers become an integral part of the community.

Community business, pride, and participation. 

Whole street projects involve residents and the local community working together. Residents are included in the choice of understory and provide ongoing maintenance. Indigenous leaders and workers are encouraged to be involved and share their knowledge.

A Network of Projects

Each local project can connect with others as part of the Shady Lanes Project while maintaining their own independence. This allows sharing of information, experience, data, and resources, without losing the ability to adapt to local situations.

What Are We Waiting For?

Many councils have already got the policies in place to allow ratepayers and residents to convert their verges. A few councils are proactively encouraging residents to adopt verges and transform them to help cool our cities.

All that has to change is the way we think about it, and how we work together