National Urban Forest Alliance
Urban forests are considered critical components of the urban built environment, contributing an array of social, health and wellbeing, economic and environmental benefits to communities.
The National Urban Forest Alliance NUFA) brings together a collaborative, open and diverse cross-disciplinary group of partners to promote the role of the urban forest1 throughout Australian towns and cities. NUFA is not-for-profit and apolitical. NUFA partners, reely offer resources and information to enable impartial discussion of ideas, open transfer of knowledge and implementation of actions that are independent of organisational hierarchy or commercial interest.
In recent years the research pool related to urban forests has grown and more tools have been developed to show the benefits of urban forests. It has become increasingly obvious that urban forests must be incorporated into the planning, design, construction and management of Australian towns and cities.
Healthy, resilient and liveable towns and cities that can sustain growing populations in 21st century Australia will feature viable and vibrant urban forests. 1 Urban forest includes all forms of vegetation found in an urban environment.
The National Urban Forest Alliance Australian Partnership Plan 2014–2020 provides a clear vision for urban forestry in Australian towns and cities. NUFA partners have developed this plan based on their extensive scientific and practical research, alongside their observations and trials of urban forest planning, design, construction and management in Australian towns and cities.
This document demonstrates a commitment to enhancing Australian built environments and provides case studies of activities that are already underway and reflect NUFA goals. We highly recommend the National Urban Forest Alliance Australian Partnership Plan 2014–2020 for your reading. We also would welcome any new partners who can help deliver this plan for the betterment of our urban environment and to help ensure future generations can also experience the lifestyle we now enjoy.
is to promote a thriving, sustainable and diverse Australian urban forest to support healthy ecosystems that are valued and cared for by all Australians as an essential environmental, economic and community asset, now and for future generations.
Our work is based around three areas of opportunity—policy, information sharing and resources:
Urban Forest Issues in Australia
There is much we don’t know about our urban forest in Australia. Limited local data exists describing the composition, coverage and connectivity of our urban forests, their precise influence over microclimatic urban canyons, their exact role in supporting human health and wellbeing and their overall function and the desired distribution in resilient communities of the future. Internationally, research has bridged most of these gaps, however, more localised studies are required for evidenced-based policy and planning in Australia. Plants are the last asset to be implemented in a development site or street upgrade. Unfortunately, when funding runs short, the last asset funding
is reduced. Additionally, negative attention is focussed on the urban forest on the rare occasions when humans are injured by one of its components. When such events occur they become news headlines because of their rarity, creating a perception in the community that urban forests pose more risks than they actually do. The urban forest is rarely celebrated as an essential community asset or championed for the benefits they provide to the community.
The way our urban forests are currently funded, planned and managed differs depending on the land custodian. This becomes obvious when adverse conditions prevail, such as droughts, cyclones or floods. There is no mandate for the overall protection and enhancement of our urban forests when faced with challenges such as water restrictions, heat waves and a changing climate. State governments generally have jurisdictional power to override local council decisions relating to urban forests, particularly with regard to developments and the provision of essential services. Historically, the federal government has had little influence on the planning and management of urban forests, except those on Crown land. Urban forest coverage in the private realm is hugely diverse, depending on the history of specific suburbs and the disposition of private land owners. There are currently few regulations or standards from which urban managers or private landholders can work and a paucity of localised research to substantiate any proposed guidelines. NUFA therefore sees four key urban forest issues that require attention across Australia: knowledge, guidance, communication and action.
© National Urban Forest Alliance, July 2014
For further information visit www.nufa.com.au
The development of this document would not have been possible without input from the National Urban Forest partners. A special thanks to the volunteer work of individuals from Arboriculture Australia Ltd and Nursery & Garden Industry Australia in the preparation of this document.