From the Total Environment Centre:

The Total Environment Centre has initiated a powerful new network of communities concerned about the growing assault on our green spaces, which kicked off with an SOS Green Spaces Forum on April 1.

Over 100 individuals and groups active in their local areas heard about the proven health benefits of green spaces as fundamental assets to an active lifestyle; the dangers of urban heat; degradation of Sydney’s unique bushland identity – and resolved to take the fight to the state government and councils.

“People are right to be alarmed about development projects which destroy urban breathing space,” said TEC’s director Jeff Angel. “The extremely negative impacts are not confined to vulnerable citizens such as children, and the elderly. The science is in. We need trees and green spaces for healthy citizens.”

Apart from the impact on local character, recreational activity, birds and other wildlife, “losing parks and trees has real health implications with the potential for sizable budget expenditure,” said James Grant, one of the Forum’s key speakers, principal urban designer JMD Design, and former president of the NSW Association of Landscape Architects.

Mr Grant noted that more people die from urban heat stress than bush fires or car accidents.

A report by Deakin University has revealed that residents of towns and cities should have access to natural green space at least two hectares in size, located no more than 300 metres, or five minutes walking distance, from home to counteract chronic diseases such as depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and stress related illnesses.

“The current spate of ill conceived and hasty urban infrastructure projects, and local council sell offs of public spaces is setting Sydney up for costly, irreversible, and quite unnecessary negative impacts on a fast growing population which is being squeezed into smaller and less liveable spaces,” said the Forum’s mediator Corinne Fisher.

The Forum’s speaker presentation notes will be available on the TEC website from April 7.