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Designing cities to keep us healthy and out of hospital

Latest research on urban greening and its health benefits presented at forum

As the health and social benefits of green space become clearer – and as the density of Australian cities grow larger – planners and real estate developers, government departments and local health districts are becoming increasingly aware of the need to create greener communities.

With that in mind, scientists and practitioners from universities, government and industry will gather in Sydney this Friday (3 November 2017) for the National Urban Greening Research Forum.

Jointly delivered by Dr Xiaoqi Feng and Associate Professor Thomas Astell-Burt, Co-Directors of the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (PowerLab) and Hort Innovation, the Forum is being held at the University of Wollongong Sydney Business School.

“With experiments demonstrating contact with green space helps to improve our mental wellbeing, physical health and overall quality of life, we need to identify what types of green space matter where, when and for whom,” Dr Feng said.

“That is how we as scientists can help inform urban planning policies and make a difference in society, so this Forum is going to be very exciting!” Inspired by the amount of research being undertaken in Australia relating to urban greening, the Forum will bring together stakeholders from across the country to share ideas and develop new networks and collaborations.

“To advance population wellbeing and prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, we know we need multi-sectoral strategies that bring together a diverse range of people: epidemiologists and urban planners; foresters and economists; landscape architects and statisticians,” Professor Astell-Burt said.

“That’s what this Forum is doing as urban greening is a big part of that. We can all can play a role in helping design cities that help keep us healthy and out of hospital.”

The scientists include those working on projects supported by the Green Cities Fund, the Clean Air and Urban Landscape Hub, and on projects funded through Hort Innovation using the nursery industry levy and contributions from the Australia Government.

The Forum will provide a snapshot of some of the key projects currently under way. Research topics to be discussed at the forum include:

  • The benefits of urban greening for a healthy start and healthy ageing
  • The business case for green cities
  • Green space and urban biodiversity
  • The benefits of green roofs
  • Measuring Australia’s green space assets
  • Integrating plant life into building and infrastructure rating tools
  • Urban greening for liveability and biodiversity
  • The “Which plant where, when and why” database