Where should all the trees go? Investigating the impact of tree canopy cover on socio-economic status and wellbeing in LGA’s

Local government Cities and towns Urban planning Public health Environmental health Trees

This project’s objective was to inform the horticulture industry and the 202020 Vision’s identification of priority areas for greening. Our central question was: how can local government greening efforts be most effective in addressing differences in metropolitan residents’ social, economic and health outcomes and vulnerabilities, exposure to high temperatures and access to green areas? Where should all the trees go?

• The team answered this question through an update to the 2014 estimated canopy cover of Australia’s 139 metropolitan local government areas (LGAs) using the i-Tree sampling method. The team examined the relationships between canopy cover and indices of socio-economic disadvantage (SEIFA), population under five years and over 65 years living alone, non-communicable disease health data from the Australian Health Survey (2011-12), and a calculation of heat island intensity derived from satellite imagery for summer 2015-2016. Using this data the team developed the VHHEDA (Vulnerability to Heat, poor Health, Economic Disadvantage and Access to green spaces) index.

The research provides an opportunity to update and track the estimates of canopy cover to monitor progress towards the goal of 20% canopy cover for Australia’s urban environments by 2020. It also highlights the vulnerability of different communities to a lack of canopy cover, heat stress, poor health, and socioeconomic circumstances. The data generated will inform the continuing development of the 202020 vision and will assist identifying locations for increased consumption of green life products by governments, businesses, schools and consumers. The work is targeted at horticulture industry levy payers and industry stakeholders involved in the 202020 vision.

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