2020: A YEAR IN REVIEW

14 December 2020

THE YEAR THAT NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION

The past 12 months certainly had its share of challenges, and along the way, Greener Spaces Better Places reflected on the many events which unfolded around the globe. As the year progressed, it was clear that many of these events would have an impact on the world of urban greening here in Australia.

But these events have had their silver linings, too, and each in their own way has reminded us of the bigger picture of what we do: the critical importance of connecting with nature in times of crisis, and how we can ensure it’s woven into the fabric of our suburbs and cities.

The year kicked off with a catastrophic fire season which burnt through 24 million hectares, destroying over 3,000 homes and killing or displacing 3 billion animals. While recovery efforts remain ongoing, the onset of summer once more means it is time again to turn our attention to bushfire preparedness. This article from Greener Spaces Better Places advocate Isabelle Connolly is a great place to start.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which as the months rolled by, had record numbers of Australians turning to nature to seek solace, restoration and relaxation. To understand the concerns and needs of green space professionals at local and state levels of government in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, Greener Spaces Better Places conducted a research project – you can read that report here.

Then, in May, events in the United States propelled the Black Lives Matter movement to centre stage worldwide – and along with it, a range of social, cultural and political issues for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). The May edition of the Living Network e-newsletter asked: how can we begin to consider and address some of these issues within the urban greening space? One way is by bringing indigenous leadership and advice to the planning and design process, as the NSW Government has been exploring throughout the year.

As we neared the year’s end, we thought it was time to turn our attention forward with the ‘Where Will All the Trees Be?’ research project, which explored how green – or grey – our suburbs and cities may be in the future. Led by RMIT University, Greener Spaces Better Places and funded by Hort Innovation, this report – the third in a series of national urban canopy benchmarking studies – provides longitudinal research results from 131 Local Government Areas (LGA) on urban green cover increase and decline, through the lens of six different place types determined by rainfall, urbanisation and population density. It also dives into best-on-ground case studies and future projections for urban greening around the country.

So, while 2020’s plethora of unprecedented events uprooted many urban greening events, activities and schedules, Greener Spaces Better Places is encouraged to see that healthy, liveable cities are more on the agenda than ever. As urban greening experts and practitioners look to 2021, the ‘Where Will All the Trees?’ research provides a great launch pad for the coming year’s work.

What urban greening activities do you have planned for 2021, or that you know about which should be on our radar? We’d love to hear them – please get in touch via hello@greenerspacesbetterplaces.com.au