Ex­pert warns of cli­mate cri­sis

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Josh Zimmerman

A CITY-WIDE fo­cus on green in­fra­struc­ture is ur­gently re­quired to help cope with a po­ten­tial health cri­sis caused by more fre­quent and longer last­ing heat­waves.

An en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing ex­pert at UWA has iden­ti­fied dozens of Perth sub­urbs he be­lieves are most at risk, with tem­per­a­tures in some ar­eas ca­pa­ble of soar­ing up to 10C higher than their greener, leafier coun­ter­parts.

Re­search con­ducted by Pro­fes­sor Anas Ghadouani, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Co-op­er­a­tive Re­search Cen­tre for Wa­ter Sen­si­tive Cities, has iden­ti­fied large swathes of South Perth, in­clud­ing Como, Man­ning, Sal­ter Point and Karawara, as among the sub­urbs most vul­ner­a­ble to ex­treme heat.

“It is re­ally no sur­prise that some sub­urbs are more at risk than oth­ers; there are some old large in­dus­try ar­eas that are noth­ing but con­crete,” Dr Ghadouani said.

“Coun­cils now need to look at the de­tail and find out how they can mit­i­gate that. We need to retro­fit our city to cope with what the cli­mate has in store for us.

“It re­quires a holis­tic ap­proach to plan­ning and a fun­da­men­tal in­clu­sion of green in­fra­struc­ture, which in­cludes trees and veg­e­ta­tion as well as sur­face wa­ter.

“When you say to some­one they need to put a pipe on their prop­erty, they can un­der­stand; it’s cru­cial to bring in wa­ter and take away waste.

“Trees are just as es­sen­tial as pipes. With­out trees, peo­ple will die of heat stroke.”

Dr Ghadouani said with Perth’s cli­mate pre­dicted to be­come hot­ter and drier in com­ing years, the onus was not just on govern­ment to try to mit­i­gate the ef­fects.

“Ev­ery­body re­ally has to do their bit,” he said.

“It’s im­por­tant for home­own­ers to keep their trees and have wa­ter sen­si­tive plants and gar­dens.

“One of the big­gest con­tribut­ing fac­tors in Perth in re­cent times has been peo­ple buy­ing houses and then get­ting rid of es­tab­lished trees and gar­dens to ex­pand the house or sub-di­vide the prop­erty.

“Buy­ing a plot of land and build­ing a house or mul­ti­ple houses from edge to edge is not a good idea.”

City of South Perth Mayor Sue Do­herty said the City planted trees an­nu­ally on its street verges and parks, and ad­ja­cent to wa­ter­ways.

“Since 2005, the City has in­creased its net tree cover on land un­der our care and con­trol by plant­ing over 8500 trees,” she said.

“The City is de­vel­op­ing an Ur­ban For­est Strat­egy to foster a shared un­der­stand­ing of the loss of tree cover in the City.”

Ms Do­herty said the strat­egy would demon­strate what the City was do­ing and out­line how other in­sti­tu­tions or res­i­dents can as­sist on their own land.

“The City of South Perth is renowned for its green leafy streets and pub­lic open space,” Ms Do­herty said.

“In or­der to ad­dress the con­cerns raised by Pro­fes­sor Ghadouani, and many oth­ers, many vari­ables need to be con­sid­ered.

“How­ever, any­thing that sup­ports more pub­lic open space, nat­u­ral ar­eas and tree plant­ing is a great start.”

Perth is dry­ing out as the tem­per­a­ture rises.

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