Thursday, February 29, 2024

Melbourne urban forest set to grow

Melbourne tram stops are set to be transformed into lush eco-installations as part of a half-million dollar effort to grow the city’s green space.

Five projects form part of the latest round of the City of Melbourne Urban Forest Fund Grant Program, supporting organisations and community groups to deliver greening projects that will beautify and benefit the city. 

Together with partners, the projects are worth more than $3.8 million and set to create 1,000 square meters of new green cover throughout the municipality.   

One innovative pilot project, to be delivered by Yarra Trams, will see green roofs installed at four popular city tram stop shelters.  

Council says the mini rooftop ecosystems will reduce the impact of heat on the shelters and reduce rainwater runoff.

They’ll also create healthier and safer environments by reducing graffiti and air pollution, improving the experience of more than 800,000 tram commuters each year, said Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.

“We’re thrilled to support community organisations with the delivery of innovative and sustainable projects to help accelerate greening in the city as part of the Urban Forest Fund Grant program,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“Since its inception, the program has created a variety of jobs for Melburnians and has generated almost five times the economic return on investment. 

“Not only will these projects beautify our city, but they will also create opportunities for community connection and draw more visitors back to the CBD.  

“We look forward to working alongside our collaborators to bring their brilliant ideas into fruition.”   

The installed plants will include a of local grasses and wildflowers found within Volcanic Plain Grasslands. The drought tolerant plant palette will withstand the challenging growing conditions of tram stop rooftops, and the hash, dry summers that Melbourne can offer, the Lord Mayor said.

The plants will be grown and installed by Port Melbourne-based eco developer, Plant Based Building Solutions.  

The initial trial of four tram stops is being jointly funded by the City of Melbourne, Department of Transport and Yarra Trams, with the tram stop rooftop planters expected to be installed by mid-2023.  

Two of the central CBD stops for the trial will include Stop 3 on Routes 11, 12, 48 and 109 (Collins and William Streets) and Stop 5 for Route 58 (William and Bourke Streets).  

“Everyone has a role to play in creating a more sustainable and livable Melbourne, and this partnership with the City of Melbourne and Department of Transport to trial the installation of green tram stops is just one way we’re working to make a difference for our city,” said Yarra Trams’ Chief Executive, Julien Dehornoy.

“Melbourne’s iconic trams are already powered by solar power and the most eco-friendly mode of public transport to get into the city, but we’re not resting on our laurels. In recent months we’ve installed solar panels across our depots, continued supporting Victoria’s circular economy, and are investing to localise our supply chains to cut down on CO2 emissions while supporting job creation right here in Victoria.” 

Another project will see a historic fire station in North Melbourne become a green oasis through the development of a community garden, improving biodiversity and canopy cover.

The grants will also help create a new native communal garden for an apartment block in Agnes Street, Jolimont, and an eye-catching green wall for the Hero Apartment Building on Little Collins Street.   

Council says the final project to receive funding as part of the fourth round of the Urban Forest Fund will take greening in the city to new heights and will be revealed in early 2023.

“City greening projects like these are essential to adapting our city to a changing climate, supporting its continual transformation into a thriving urban forest,” said Environment portfolio lead Councillor, Rohan Leppert.

“Together, these projects will increase our climate resilience by improving biodiversity and canopy cover, reducing air pollution and mitigating impacts of the urban heat island effect.” 

The Urban Forest Fund is supported by tree removal fees. 

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