Project scope

The provision of shade through the urban tree canopy is critical to urban resilience, health, social equity and child friendly cities in a warming world. A growing body of research also documents well-being outcomes of human-plant interactions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, greening policies at the local and state level have proliferated in recent years. These include ‘Adopt-a-tree’ programs and commitments to greening such as ‘10 Thousand Trees’. However, despite these initiatives, tree cover remains stubbornly uneven. A comparative analysis of vulnerability and tree-cover by location shows that those who are most vulnerable to extreme heat events (Loughnan et al. 2013) often live in those parts of cities that are most poorly shaded (ISF, 2014).

Shading Liveable Cities brings together researchers in Geography, Planning, Ecology and Health to explore the opportunities for urban greening in suburban contexts. Combining both Geographical Information Systems and qualitative research methods, the project aims to:

  • Explore the relationship between urban tree canopy cover and socio-economic status;
  • To explore the factors shaping urban canopy cover, including urban development processes, water supply, housing density, car-ownership;
  • To identify the governance frameworks through which the urban tree canopy is developed and maintained;
  • To explore opportunities for community engagement and resident stewardship in developing and maintaining the tree canopy.

Read output papers from the project here. A Working Paper from the project was released in October 2015.

Working paper


Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) 2014. “Where are All the Trees? An analysis of tree canopy cover in urban Australia” University of Technology. Sydney for Vision 202020, Nursery and Garden Industry Austrlia

Loughnan M et al. (2013) “A spatial vulnerability analysis of urban populations during extreme heat events in Australian capital cities’ National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. Monash University