Research shows Perth needs more trees in backyards to beat the heat

It's no secret that here in sunny Perth, temperatures get nice and toasty. Our average temperature is 25 degrees Celsius, and even at our coldest in July we still reach a pleasant 13 degrees Celsius.

However, research by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Sydney's University of Technology has found that some Perth suburbs are up to six degrees hotter than their surrounding areas - and it's all because those areas lack cover from tree canopies.

Research showcases lack of tree cover  

The University of Technology's results were found by measuring canopy cover throughout the councils and correlating these with land surface temperatures. Satellite data, ground-based thermal imaging and airborne thermal monitoring were used to conduct the study.

Findings showed that the Kalamunda neighbourhood had the most tree cover, while Belmont had the least. Other areas with strong tree cover - over 30 per cent - included Armadale, Swan and Mundaring. 

On the other hand, less than 20 per cent of Belmont, Vincent and Fremantle is covered in grass. Similarly, more than 50 per cent of these suburbs are what the study refers to as 'hard surface', meaning it is concrete or developed in housing or commercial complexes. 

To resolve these issues with smarter urban planning, the Perth councils have contracted Dr Paul Barber, owner of environmental consultancy firm ArborCarbon and associate professor at Murdoch University. 

"We need to be smart about how we develop and design urban spaces, particularly in Perth which has many hours of sunshine," said Dr Barber in an interview with WA Today. 

"It's essential when you're planning urban areas that you consider vegetation as an asset that needs to be healthy for decades to come." 

Housing design and landscaping can offer solutions 

Dr Barber emphasises that Perth needs more trees planted in local parks as part of urban planning, but just as important, our new home buildings need to have plenty of greenery too.

Here at apg homes, we are proud that our two storey designs come with outdoor living spaces with carefully chosen plants and shrubbery. We build pergolas outside with alfresco dining areas to offer healthy, green living for families. Because our building methods have the option of customisation, home owners can plan to allocate areas in their backyards for tree planting. 

This is important considering Perth is set to blossom in the coming decades, with an expected population of 3.2 million people by the year 2031 and nearly 5.5 million by 2061, according to the latest State of Australian Cities 2014-15 report. Building with intelligence will allow us to offer these future Perthians quality, healthy homes to live in. 

"Perth is a very clean, green place and always has had clean air and water and a great climate – but that will change over time if we don't develop and plan wisely, consider sustainable development and manage our vegetation sustainably," concluded Dr Barber.