Improving our understanding of clean, healthy urban environments

Climate change mitigation, resilient built environments and functional green space – these were just some of the key topics explored at the 2019 State of Australian Cities Conference (SOAC 2019).

As part of the conference, the CAUL Hub led a special two-part session titled ‘Improving our understanding of clean, healthy urban environments’.

Deputy CAUL Hub Leader Associate Professor Joe Hurley and Dr Bryan Boruff chaired the session and discussed the impacts of urban development on tree cover in Melbourne and Perth, respectively.

Dr Judy Bush explored the voices of urban green space managers, what they say, what processes they work through, and the implications this has for urban greening.

Dr Chayn Sun spoke about fine-grained heat data and how it can be used to map lower temperature routes for cyclists and pedestrians.

Finally, Dr Natasha Pauli shared research about the social and ecological values of native verge gardens. Read more about the conference and topics from other CAUL researchers here.

Image: Dr Bryan Boruff presenting at SOAC

Launch of the Three-Category Approach Toolkit

For thousands of years, Indigenous knowledge systems have formed and shaped Australia’s environment. To make cities better for people and biodiversity we need two-way sharing between Indigenous experts and non-Indigenous researchers and practitioners.

The CAUL Hub was proud to launch the Three-Category Approach Toolkit at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne in November. Created by Indigenous researchers, communicators and designers, the Toolkit supports cross-cultural work through a workbook and workshop. It guides non-Indigenous researchers and practitioners through three categories: communicate, collaborate and co-design.

Mandy Nicholson, Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds, gave an Acknowledgement of Country and spoke of her hopes for the Toolkit in supporting greater Indigenous participation.

The Hub is also hosting a series of practical workshops in Canberra, Wollongong, Perth and a second workshop in Melbourne. To read more about the Three-Category Approach and to register your interest in a workshop, click here.

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