UWA environmental engineering expert Anas Ghadouani has put together a map displaying the suburbs of Perth most at risk of extreme heat which you can see here: http://www.mappingvulnerabilityindex.com/home/perthvi
The methodology is quite complex but basically it takes into account the predominant surface materials in the area (roads/grass/buildings) and the amount of vegetation and combines that with socio-economic information to determine how vulnerable residents in that area are to extreme heat events (like the heatwave we're currently experiencing).
My colleague has spoken to Professor Ghadouani and I thought I'd send through some questions to get the City's perspective on the issue since parts of South Perth have high rankings.
Please attribute the following comments to City of South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty:
Are you surprised to see parts of South Perth receive 9 or 10 vulnerability ranking? Is that concerning for you?
The large number of high vulnerability rankings for suburbs all over Perth are of concern.
What strategies does the City have in place to combat this issue?
The City plants trees annually on its street verges and parks, and adjacent to waterways. Since 2005, the City has increased its net tree cover on land under our care and control by planting over 8,500 trees.
The City is developing an Urban Forest Strategy to foster a shared understanding of the loss of tree cover in the City. The Strategy will demonstrate what the City is doing and outline how other institutions and residents can assist on their land.
In order to mitigate the effects of heat, the City encourages environmentally sustainable building designs that use appropriate external materials and colour finishes.
Professor Ghadouani says that one of the biggest contributors to this problem is the sub-dividing of residential blocks by developers and then building houses/units from corner to corner of the land, leaving no room for vegetation. Does the City attempt to discourage this practice in any way?
The City of South Perth manages trees in the public realm proactively. The City’s town planners work with developers to protect trees in the private realm wherever possible.
Related to the above, Professor Ghadouani is in favour of medium to high density residential living, leaving more room for parks, trees etc. Is that something you are in favour of?
The City is renowned for its green leafy streets and public open space. In order to address the concerns that Professor Ghadouani, and many others, have raised many variables need to be considered. However, anything that supports more public open space, natural areas and tree planting is a great start.
Finally, Professor Ghadouani says that combating this issue requires a buy-in from the local community - do you believe both private and commercial landowners within the City of South Perth should acknowledge the problem and implement their own mitigation strategies (planting more vegetation, smaller buildings with bigger native gardens, conserving water etc)
A collaborative response with guidance and support from both State and Local Governments is key to ensuring all local landowners can help improve the situation. Community education is vital to mitigate the warming effect.
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