The US Environmental Protection Agency reported last year that trees and vegetation lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade through what is known as evapotranspiration — defined as the combined processes by which water from the Earth’s surface enters the atmosphere.
Their researchers found that evapotranspiration, alone or in combination with shading, can help reduce peak summer temperatures by 1 to 5 °C. It seems logical that this would mean that the days when air conditioning is needed could be reduced, which could save electricity that might have been generated using fossil fuels. It sounds like a win-win situation.
Tom Forrest, executive director of the Urban Taskforce, says the new rules will prevent increased housing density in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. He suggests that city councils should buy land for parks and green public spaces, but the responsibility for greening our suburbs should not be left to city councils to orchestrate and fund.
But, as Woollahra argues, development on private land must do its part, or be required to do so.
While we are not ignoring the real and pressing problem of housing, we also support initiatives that ensure our city remains liveable. Ambient temperature rise knows no community boundaries and we believe Woollahra Council is leading the way.
The sooner we fully realize that trees are a necessity and an asset, and not just an inconvenient obstacle to building lots or roads, the better off and cooler we’ll be.