Nature in the city a step closer

By Meg Hill

The City of Melbourne is set to become a lot greener over the next 10 years with the council’s “Nature in the City Strategy” moving ahead after a 10-month online community consultation period.

The strategy contains 23 “actions” designed to create a more diverse, connected and resilient natural environment; connect people to nature; and demonstrate local and global leadership.

Nature in the City has a relatively short 10-year timeline to reflect the rapidly evolving nature of environmental developments.

The council’s 2017-18 draft capital budget included $220,000 for projects to be implemented in the first year.

One of the main facets of Nature in the City is the engagement of the private sector in nature-friendly projects and biodiversity conservation. This includes encouraging and guiding businesses to utilise “green infrastructure” like Medibank did with its Docklands building. Ten per cent of the building’s surface area is covered with plants – 11,600 in total and 72 species.

The encouragement will involve biodiversity-specific guidelines that prioritise outcomes in “hard to grow places” like laneways, under bridges and in compacted or polluted soils.

The strategy also involves a large focus on “Caring for Country” in an urban context, planning to create a symbiotic partnership with local Aboriginal communities whilst also working with philanthropic groups.

Spaces and resources will be created for indigenous people to celebrate customs and engage with elders.

Another aspect will focus on initiatives that celebrate the cultural and environmental significance of the Yarra River.

Other notable actions in Nature in the City involve enhancing Melbourne’s reputation as a creative city through “art and urban nature” projects and the establishment of a collection of under-storey plant species that “reflect and define Melbourne’s unique character and support biodiversity”.

By 2027, at the very least, Melbourne should be a more ecologically connected city than it is now.

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