Cashing in on parks and gardens

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This University Square proposal forms part of the City of Melbourne's $15 million plan to convert underused roads into green spaces.

This University Square proposal forms part of the City of Melbourne’s $15 million plan to convert underused roads into green spaces. Image: Courtesy of the City of Melbourne

A group of Melbourne councils, the state government and Victoria University have launched Australia’s first Economic Framework for Green Infrastructure, which details ways to develop a business case for urban greening strategies.

The new framework explains economic methods and approaches for developing a business case for green infrastructure by looking at economic, social and environmental benefits. The framework is designed to make it easier for other councils to follow suit.

Green infrastructure refers to urban features such as parks, gardens, waterways, wetlands, pathways, greenways, public spaces, trees, roof gardens and green walls. Conventionally, green infrastructure has not been valued as an essential part of a community in the same way regular infrastructure such as roads have been.

A recent article by NSW Government Architect’s Office landscape architect Barbara Schaffer, published in Landscape Architecture, discussed the growing trend toward recognizing the importance of green infrastructure, and its role in, “underpinning economic prosperity, health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Arron Wood, the City of Melbourne environment portfolio chair, said, “This framework will support better decision making and smarter investment for local government. We know that green is fundamentally good for our cities, but we have to make the business case stack up.”

Organizations involved in developing the framework include the City of Melbourne, the City of Banyule, the City of Kingston, the City of Moonee Valley, Victoria University and the Victorian state government. Funds of $250,000 were provided by the state government.

“If we want to improve our liveability in a hotter, more changeable climate, we need to invest in green infrastructure projects, both big and small,” said Victoria University chancellor George Pappas.

“The framework will help councils build better business cases for doing so.”

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Putting a dollar value on trees

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