Image: City of Sydney

Local councils will now be able to put a dollar value on their urban greening activities, thanks to an Australian-first economic framework launched today (Thursday) at Victoria University in Melbourne.

The Economic Framework for Green Infrastructure is a joint effort by City of Melbourne, City of Banyule, City of Kingston, City of Moonee Valley and Victoria University in partnership with the Victorian Government.

City of Melbourne Environment Portfolio chair Arron Wood said the framework would allow better decision-making and investment by councils.

“We know that green is fundamentally good for our cities, but we have to make the business case stack up,” Mr Wood said.

The Framework identifies the key steps needed to value “green infrastructure”, and outlines a full life cycle management process to assist decision making. It also provides explanations around various approaches used to value green infrastructure.

Victoria University Chancellor George Pappas said green infrastructure was fundamental to Melbourne’s liveability.

“Melbourne keeps winning awards for being the world’s most liveable city, and why? Our green infrastructure plays a big part.

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

Environment and Climate Change Minister Lisa Neville, whose government contributed $250,000 to the project, said climate change required action from all levels of government.

“The Victorian Government is committed to working alongside local councils to drive action at a community level, and I commend this project for its innovated and coordinated approach.

UTS study shows pollution reduction benefits of trees

The news comes as UTS research shows that the City of Sydney’s plan to increase tree canopy by 50 per cent could have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution than cutting cars.

“Our results were taken from a number of sites selected for traffic density and amount of canopy cover,” study lead author Peter Irga said.

“The study showed that areas with a high number of trees led to reduced air pollution as the trees either trap the pollutants or allow them to be removed from the air.

“We were surprised to discover the City of Sydney’s plan to increase current canopy cover by 50 per cent could have a bigger impact on reducing air pollution than a reduction in traffic.”

The study also found community health benefits would be seen from increased urban greening.

“Trees and their canopies can help with the deposition and dispersal of particulate pollination that cause serious respiratory diseases, such as asthma and several types of cancer,” Mr Irga said.