November 2019 Urban Beat

For many, living in one of Australia’s vibrant cities offers a rewarding lifestyle. But urbanisation can come at a cost to our wellbeing and to the plants and animals that also call our cities home.

In the latest edition of Urban Beat, we explore the case for greener density, the liveability of regional cities, novel conservation solutions and more. By improving the sustainability and liveability of our urban environments we can create better cities for all.

View Issue 11 online here.

Wiley Next Generation Ecologist Award

More than ever, cities around the world are embracing new ways to become more sustainable and balance the impacts of urbanisation. To better integrate biodiversity into cities, governments are spending millions of dollars on popular habitat restoration projects such as nest boxes, shelter sites and artificial refuges.

But just how effective are these initiatives? This is the question CAUL Hub researcher Dr Caragh Threlfall hopes to answer as the recipient of Ecological Society of Australia’s Wiley Next Generation Ecologist Award.

The award recognises excellence in Australian ecology research and provides support for early-career researchers through a research grant and speaking opportunity at the ESA19 Conference. As the 2019 recipient, Caragh will establish an urban habitat restoration network to test the effectiveness of urban restoration initiatives and identify national benchmarks.

The project builds on CAUL Hub research which established a national inventory of urban biodiversity conservation actions in Australia.

Modelling vehicle emissions nationally

Traffic congestion is an unpleasant fact of life in Australia’s ever-expanding cities. Not only that, chronic exposure to vehicle emissions can carry major health risks. There are ways for cities to reduce traffic pollution, but first they need to better understand how emissions are distributed.

CAUL Hub researchers from the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility are developing a new traffic emissions modelling framework that aims to address the lack of affordable and consistent modelling of traffic emissions across Australia. The framework design comprises a chained sequence of models, including emissions and dispersion models, as well as inputs of roads, terrain and meteorology.

The framework will be tested in Wollongong, Sydney and potentially Melbourne. Nationally consistent data will help improve comparisons of exposure between people living in different cities.

Photo by Koushik Pal on Unsplash

Building urban resilience with nature-based solutions

Cities face increasing environmental, social and economic challenges that together threaten the resilience of urban areas. These challenges include chronic stresses and acute shocks, amplified by climate change impacts.

Nature-based solutions have emerged as a concept for integrating ecosystem-based approaches to address a range of societal challenges. Nature-based solutions include the green and blue spaces of cities, such as parks, street trees, water-sensitive urban design, and coastal structures such as mangroves and dunes.

Implementing urban nature-based solutions is inherently complex, given the range of ecosystem services, their multi-functionality and trade-offs between functions, and across time and spatial scales. Urban planning can support the implementation of nature-based solutions, by managing trade-offs and conflicts, as well as addressing social equity dimensions.

In a new CAUL Hub paper, researchers present a framework to guide the application of urban planning to nature-based solutions’ implementation to support urban resilience.

Photo by Rafał Rudol on Unsplash


Springtime pollinator observatories

CAUL Hub researcher Dr Luis Mata will be facilitating a number of pollinator observatories and related workshops in the greater Melbourne area.

Pollinators are essential for the reproduction of many plants, and pollinator observatories provide reliable opportunities to observe and research pollinator species and their interactions with plants. In addition, these events are opportunities for citizen scientists to get involved in learning more about this aspect of biodiversity.

Pollinator observatory events will be held on Sunday 27 October at Westgate Park and on Sunday 10 November at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. In addition, the Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria will be hosting an Insectopia workshop on Sunday 3 November. Please book directly through the links provided.

Featured image credit: Native bee on native paper daisy by Luis Mata