Expert warns of climate crisis
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.