Posts Tagged ‘biodiversity’

Potential Urban Orchards: City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Consultations

Posted in Events, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on April 4th, 2013

6 April , 2013
10:00 amto11:00 am
20 April , 2013
10:00 amto11:00 am
4 May , 2013
10:00 amto11:00 am

Pear-Shaped_London Apple Festival 030
Photo: Roots to Fruit

If we want council to consider productive street trees in Melbourne, we need to ask for them – that was the message when some of the Urban Forest team participated in the EcoCity Food Forum a couple of weeks ago, and it was also clear that they are really keen to get diverse and plentiful public feedback on the Urban Forest Strategy.  There are three more workshops left to run in the consultation process.  Feedback can also be posted directly to the Urban Forest website.

From the Urban Forest Conversation website:

We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about the development of the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest.

The City’s Urban Forest Strategy provides a robust framework for the evolution and longevity of our urban forest but what will that look like at an individual street level? Join the conversation to influence the plan for your neighbourhood’s trees. In 2013, we are developing the plans for the urban forest in Carlton, East Melbourne, South Yarra and the CBD.

Join the conversation online through this forum, post your comments on our urban forest map or participate in a workshop to influence the plans for your neighbourhood’s trees. You can register for a workshop via the key links on the right hand side of the Urban Forest page.

Register for Upcoming Workshops:


Food for thought? Some thoughts on productive trees in public space:

“Edible Street Verge Gardening is something that has been going on for the past 20 years or so in our cities but is now capturing the public imagination such that the number of plantings is rapidly increasing.  For advocates of edible landscaping in our cities, this is good news but for local government the practice can be confusing. What has become apparent during the recent upsurge in the popularity of edible footpath planting is that a set of design and planting guidelines are desperately needed.  Most verge plantings to date have been created by gardeners who know what they are doing. The possibility emerging from the current boost in popularity is that those less knowledgeable will create gardens with inappropriate plants and without considering other footpath users.”

“The biggest objections to planting food-bearing plants in public spaces have always been, and will likely continue to be, maintenance and aesthetics.  Public officials are quick to point out that edibles are messy and difficult to maintain, precluding their use in the urban environment. … These concerns are often based largely on misconception and subjectivity.  still, many of these concerns can be addressed with an understanding that maintenance and aesthetics can be balanced by choosing certain plants over others, mixing edibles with ornamentals, utilizing existing maintenance staff and methods, and properly gauging community demand for fresh, local produce.”

“The City of Yarra recognises the importance of urban agriculture in supporting community sustainability, especially in times of changing climate and the myriad of associated issues such as food security due to diminishing oil supplies. Neighbourhood gardening using productive trees1 is recognised by Council as a form of Urban Agriculture that can be used by local communities to create sustainable, resilient and liveable neighbourhoods in an effective and meaningful way. Planting productive trees is considered by Council to be an effective, means of inspiring and enabling community food production in the City of Yarra by generating environmental, social and economic wellbeing from the ground up – created for and by local people. Planting productive trees can be initiated, operated and maintained by the local community with support from Council. Council’s Guidelines and registration process will assist in making neighbourhood gardening with productive trees effective, enjoyable and safe for all.”

“We’ve all seen trees over laden with fruit that the trees owner isn’t eating. Generally the tree is in somebody’s garden where it can’t be reached from the street, and in these days of lost community and increasing crime it’s kind of hard to randomly approach people for fruits. There must be a way that more community food can be grown. There are many families where the kids don’t get enough nutrition, especially in the form of fruit, where dinner is straight from the freezer into the microwave. Yuck! I know of two parks where fruit is grown for the public to eat. One is Gourley Park in East Freo, the other is King William Park in South Freo. There must be scope for more. I know some people are concerned about fruit fly (and others who unfortunately aren’t concerned enough), but not all fruit attracts those rotten pests. It’s already common to see tasty loquats ignored in gardens , so we don’t need to add to the burden of fruit fly. There’s plenty of other varieties to choose from and if it was well known that the fruit was available and folk were educated about when to pick it there wouldn’t be lots of rotten fruit around to attract nasties. […]

Free fruit could be the only fruit so what can be grown that wouldn’t cause problems? Some nuts would be a good start. Almonds are good and grow well around here. Macadamias do well in some areas around Perth. They’ll also feed black cockatoos. Bunya pine nuts are pretty good, but need cordoning off in autumn (as they do in Hyde Park, Perth) because people have been killed when the huge cones of seeds drop on their head! Not a tree to sit under at the best of times with their wickedly spiny leaves, but much more useful that its oft’ planted relative the Norfolk Island pine!! Many kinds of citrus would be suitable with the right care. […] There’s a fantastic tree called Ziziphus jujuba, commonly called Chinese date, which grows numerous little apple like fruit about the size of olives. They are a tough species which provide a common meeting place in some desert countries, providing shade and food that can be eaten fresh or preserved for later use. Olives are good public trees with very useful fruit (though obviously not good for hand to mouth browsing). There are a few bush tucker foods that could be grown too, such as muntries/muntari (Kunzea pomifera), a creeping member of the Myrtaceae family, which has pretty white flowers followed by tasty little apple like berries. It grows on the east coast and is often sold in Perth. Quandongs are a native species which has deep red skins on pretty nuts. Some bush foods require some retraining of the taste buds, but they are generally pest and disease free, and don’t need help once established. Obviously somebody would need to be looking after these things, but if parks had more community input and a little council money to feed the trees a few times a year and have them drip irrigated they could become important meeting and snacking places. Parks could even be designed to be useful on purpose!!”



Coral: Rekindling Venus

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on October 3rd, 2012

15 October , 2012
7:30 pmto9:00 pm
9:30 pmto11:00 pm

Presented by Melbourne Festival and Museum Victoria

Lynette Wallworth (Australia)



In November each year, on the night of the full moon, the hundreds of millions of coral beings that make up the Great Barrier Reef spawn in unison – a blinding, awe-inspiring whorl of colour and light. It is here that our greatest natural wonder stands in harmony with the Solar System, here that it stakes a claim to its continued existence.

Australian installation artist Lynette Wallworth has spent the last five years surveying the majesty of our coral reefs for Coral: Rekindling Venus, an immersive, kaleidoscopic journey through the glowing underwater forests of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Presented in the enveloping full dome of Melbourne’s Planetarium, Coral: Rekindling Venus takes us deep into a world that only a handful of humans have ever seen before – the infinitely complex, vibrant aquatic kingdoms of this planet’s coral reefs.

Featuring jaw-dropping cinematography from Emmy Award-winner David Hannan and a hypnotic, ethereal soundtrack featuring specially recorded songs from Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), legendary film composer Max Richter and our very own Gurrumul, Coral: Rekindling Venus is a staggering cinematic experience and an ecological call-to-arms.

Mon 15 Oct at 7.30pm & 9.30pm

Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks
2 Booker Street, Spotswood

>> Bookings and more information here or visit the project website.

“Audible gasps filled the room, audience members clasped their hands to their chests and a few left the planetarium in tears… Wallworth offered audience members an opportunity to gain a personal connection to our oceans.”– Huffington Post

“We were all spellbound, gasping with joy… The journey is riddled with astronomical metaphor, occasional bursts of the familiar, and things recognisable only from science fiction.” – New Scientist

Growing Green Guide for Melbourne

Posted in Movements, Policies by Kate Archdeacon on May 23rd, 2012

Photoshop image from Do It On The Roof, a campaign for (public) green roofs in Melbourne

From an InDesignLive article by Annie Reid:

Picture this – Melbourne’s city rooftops covered in lush greenery. It may sound fanciful, but a new project launched last week by the City of Melbourne is hoping to green our buildings and houses for good.

The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne was fittingly presented on the rooftop garden of the council’s CH2 building, and will be produced by the Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP) comprising the 4 inner city councils – Melbourne, Yarra, Stonnington and Port Phillip – as well as the University of Melbourne.

The project will comprise a ‘how to’ handbook guide on constructing a green roof or wall, and help people consider all the aspects they need to cover before transforming these spaces into vegetated, leafy habitats. It will also identify prime sites for the future development of green roofs, walls and façades in inner Melbourne, says The University of Melbourne’s senior lecturer, John Rayner.


Read the full article by Annie Reid or visit the City of Melbourne Growing Green Guide site.

Attracting Wildlife to Your Backyard

Posted in Events by samgreen on October 26th, 2011

9 November , 2011
12:30 pmto1:30 pm

Endangered: Regent Honeyeater.  Photo by marj k via flickr CC

How we garden makes a big difference to the health of our local environment – water conservation, growing our own chemical free food and creating wildlife habitat all help keep our environment healthy.

In this session you will learn how you and your community can create food, water, shelter and nesting sites for birds, bees, frogs, butterflies and other wildlife in your garden and local neighbourhood.

Date: Wednesday 9 November 2011, 12.30-1.30pm
Location: Reception Room, Maribyrnong Council Offices, cnr Hyde & Napier Sts Footscray

To register please visit or contact Council’s Sustainability Officer on 03 9688 0357 for more information.

2011 Bioregional Permaculture Conference in Melbourne: Registration Closes Today

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on September 23rd, 2011

30 September , 2011
12:00 amto11:00 pm
1 October , 2011
2 October , 2011

Workshops, speakers, site tours, party, film screening, a marketplace of ideas

The conference and its associated events will bring people together to share stories and discuss where we’re going as a movement. Presentations will be given by a wide range of local activists from local group leaders to gardeners, educators, writers, designers, foresters and more. Site visits will be happening to local gardens and community sites and a market place will take place. Evenings will be social time – Friday will be a large party with food, music and dancing, Saturday evening will be a screening of the new film Anima Mundi and a talk with the director. Both evening events will be suitable functions for bringing partners and friends. A marketplace area is available for ideas and produce – for stalls, posters and displays so please make use of this opportunity to tell your story and to let others know what you and your community are doing.

Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October

Venue: South Melbourne Commons, corner Bank & Montague Sts, South Melbourne.

Visit the Permaculture Melbourne site for more information – registration closes September 23.

Queen of the Sun: Film Screening

Posted in Events, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 20th, 2011

4 October , 2011
6:00 pmto8:00 pm

Greening a Changing City: Urban forest, health, liveability

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on July 27th, 2011

28 July , 2011
6:00 pmto7:30 pm

Image: stevendepolo via flickr CC

Greening a changing city: urban forest, health, liveability:

As Melbourne inevitably grows, central to its environmental and economic sustainability, is its capacity to have green spaces that can be the lungs of the city. Appropriate tree planting can serve to reduce the heat island effect, as climate change affects our city. The benefits of an enhanced urban forest and green infrastructure will be part of the solution to future changes, as we grow and old trees need replacement. Commentators will discuss how a future urban forest might evolve. Better places and spaces, healthy trees and water storage contribute to human health, wellbeing and economic sustainability.

Panellists include: Dr Cecil C. Konijnendijk, Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, University of Copenhagen; Dr Kate Auty, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Melbourne; Rod Marsh from Net Balance, Joy Murphy AO a Wurundjeri elder and traditional owner and GP Dr Dimity Williams the Secretary of Doctors for the Environment Aust.

Thursday July 28, 6 – 7:30 pm

Melbourne Town Hall

No RSVP required

A Wildlife Experience in St Kilda

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on July 22nd, 2011

30 July , 2011
2:00 pmto5:00 pm

A Wildlife Experience in St Kilda (for parents and kids) on Saturday 30 July

Aimed at kids, together with their parents, this workshop is designed to stimulate interest in native animals and birds. It also provides kids and their parents with a project that they can tackle together at home i.e. constructing a nesting box and then attracting owls, birds, etc. to their home, school or neighbourhood. Gio, a local 14 year old boy, is a keen naturalist and has built and deployed nesting boxes all over St Kilda and even as far afield as Phillip Island (where the hospital there has attracted a barn owl into one of his boxes). Marian is a PhD student specializing in a local bird, the tawny frogmouth.

2.30 pm : Gio, (14), will teach parents and their kids how to make a nesting box to attract birds and animals.

3.30 pm: Marian Weaving will explain how to do wildlife surveys.

4.30 pm: A walk around the St Kilda Botanic Gardens with Gio & Marian to observe wildlife and to illustrate the best way to conduct a wildlife survey.

Date: Saturday 30 July; Cost: $20 per family

Bookings essential – phone 9534 0670.

For more information, contact Bede Doherty (GM at Port Phillip EcoCentre)

Where Are They Now? Ben Nicholson, Groof

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 30th, 2011

Here at Sustainable Melbourne we’ve been contacting Sustainable Cities Round Tables (SCRT) presenters, to find out how their projects and ideas have grown and changed since Ferne Edwards first launched the Round Tables in May 2007.

Ben Nicholson gave a presentation at the SCRT in November 2008, after spending two months studying green roofs in cities around the world as a Churchill Fellow. During this time, Ben met green roofs advocates; planners, environmentalists and designers, and he visited research sites and commercial sites, some of which have been in existence since the early 1990s. In his presentation, “Vital Signs for a Healthy City”, he described Melbourne as an adolescent city at risk of on-going health problems due to its large energy requirements, poor water management lack of biodiversity. Green roofs would change this prognosis by cooling the city, increasing urban food-growing space and wildlife habitat, and conserving storm water and energy.

In 2007, Ben established his own green roof consultancy, Groof, providing designs and advice to green roof developments in Victoria and overseas.

We caught up with Ben to ask about the changes in green roof implementation and acceptance in Australia since his presentation in 2008. There have been some notable green roof and wall projects developed in that time, including the vertical garden we sat next to in the foyer of the Gauge building in Docklands. During our conversation, Ben reiterated the importance of solid research and demonstration projects for industry players to assist in the development and maintenance of a successful Green Roof program in Australia’s cities.

Below are some extracts from Ben’s Churchill Trust Report:

Just as the ant spends a lifetime crawling up and down a tree without ever comprehending the tree’s full scale or its place in the wider world, so we spend our lives in cities without ever comprehending their true size or the impacts they are having on the planet… imagine for a moment you are sitting on a hill, watching a tree grow that, one day, will be crawled upon by an the ant mentioned above. And from this hill, imagine that you can fast-forward time as quickly as you like, so you sit and watch this tree grow from a tiny seed to a sapling to a huge, spreading lemon-scented gum in only a few short minutes. Now imagine that from the same hill you are watching your own city grow up from its earliest days of a few tents and dusty tracks into the sprawling suburbs, skyscrapers, freeways, factories and warehouses that it has become today. From this perspective, it is suddenly much easier to comprehend the amount of disruption that has occurred to all the other living things and natural systems forced to make way for the people and non-living things that make up your city today. We may never be able to bring everything back, but from the vantage of this hill we can at least start to imagine what our cities would look like when transformed into thriving eco-systems.

In many cities around the world, harm is being reducing by people as they build each new piece of eco-infrastructure into the city fabric. To do this properly, people first ask:

  • what does harm look like?
  • where is it most concentrated?
  • where is the worst of it coming from?


During the fellowship I learnt that the green roof and wall industry in each city has developed in the presence of local champions, detailed science, government support and an enlightened citizenry. The people in the cities I visited have developed policy responses and designed ‘eco-infrastructure’ that is unique to their local topography, climate and system of governance. In the more advanced cities, I observed some or all of the following activities taking place:

  1. Environmental indicators such as topography, temperature, rainfall and biodiversity are examined to understand the ways in which a city impacts upon its host environment. Using data sourced from early settlement to the current day, time-lapse analysis reveals the extent to which the city has affected its surrounds. Forecasting models are then used to predict future impacts with the key variable being extent of vegetation cover.
  2. Economic costs for the design, construction and maintenance of air conditioning/cleaning systems, water supply/removal systems and agricultural production/distribution systems are compared with the costs of using green roofs and walls to identify areas of city management that can be carried out more efficiently using green roof and wall technology.
  3. The benefits of green roofs and walls are tailored to address environmental and economic ‘trigger points’ specific to each city. These trigger points inform local green roof and wall design and assist in targeting the most effective locations for the placement of green roof and wall infrastructure.
  4. Demonstration and research projects raise awareness and provide information for public, private and government sectors.
  5. Political support for green roofs and walls leads to subsidies for the eco-infrastructure industry and the incorporation of built form standards and incentives.
  6. Environmental and economic indicators are regularly monitored to refine eco-infrastructure design and placement.
  7. Over time, the economic and environmental costs associated with the negative impacts of urbanisation are reduced and the benefits associated with an increase in vegetation cover are multiplied.


As eco-infrastructure projects begin to reduce harm, there will be an increase in the demand for high quality products and services. It is therefore up to the people and companies who stand to benefit the most from this demand to provide funding for eco-infrastructure research and demonstration projects in the early phase of the industry’s development. We can learn a lot from the failures and triumphs of other cities. Now is the time to transform our negative impacts into positive ones. And in doing so, we will transform ourselves from being harmful pests to welcome guests.

Download Ben’s report to read more about his research, including case studies from his tour and further reading and recommendations.

Earthwatch Australia – get involved!

Posted in Seeking by EarthwatchAustralia on March 1st, 2011

Earthwatch engages regular citizens in scientific field research alongside scientists to work together for a sustainable planet. As a not-for-profit organization, Earthwatch is committed to conserving the diversity and integrity of life on Earth. The need for further research into species, habitat management, agricultural practices due to climate change and natural resource use is significant in order to understand and manage our environment.

Earthwatch involves matching volunteers from around the world to suitable scientific research projects. They also collaborates with global partners on conservation and management plans, and communicate with scientists about proposed research projects.

Anyone can do their part in preserving our natural environment. Join an expedition today!

Wildlife of the Mongolian Steppe

Explore the lives of unique grassland animals, from lesser kestrels to Siberian ibex, to help conserve their wilderness home

Origins of Ankor

By uncovering Southeast Asia’s past, you’ll learn how agriculture, technology, and changing climates affect civilizations.

For more visit for more expeditions and information or check us out on Facebook !