At the end of February, Infrastructure Australia released their priority projects for 2017. Disappointingly, not one of the projects in the top 100 recognises the value of green and blue infrastructure planning in supporting resilience in our cities. This is despite the problem categories identified by each project being itemised under the headings of corridor preservation, national connectivity and urban congestion. Arguably, these headings are transferrable to how green and blue infrastructure can support the delivery of broad scale ecosystem services, active transport and flood and heat mitigation. In the case of Sydney, chief resilience offices Beck Dawson recently commented that ‘within the extreme weather category, heat impacts contribute to more deaths than bushfires, floods and storms combined’ (The Fifth Estate 21 February 2017).
The opportunity to identify and support green and blue infrastructure as projects that deliver national prosperity, enhance our quality of life and deliver broad scale value to our communities is a missed opportunity. AILA’s submission to Infrastructure Australia at the end of 2015 mapped out policy and project opportunities to support living infrastructure. Significantly, like traditional infrastructures, the time scale required to support living system green and blue infrastructures is long term and thus requires the vision and funding at the federal level to ensure effective delivery at the local and metropolitan scale.
Many of you are working within the scope of large scale living system infrastructures and I would encourage you to continue to champion and find opportunities to advocate for the benefits of this approach and the real tangible value that your work provides to communities. Importantly, we must ensure this message reaches beyond the scope of landscape architects and aligned professionals so that living infrastructure becomes embedded in the term infrastructure and results in holistic long term infrastructure planning for Australia.
The website for the 2017 International Festival of Landscape Architecture: The 3rd City has gone live and tickets have already been sold. As a member of this year’s Creative Directorate, we are delighted to have approached some of our keynote speakers and look forward to revealing these to you over the coming months. The festival launch party will be held at the Calyx in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens on March 28, this will be a fantastic opportunity to generate interest in festival and Institute to a wide range of professionals and media parties.
Next week the Board heads to Perth for its first face to face meeting for 2017. The agenda is packed and we are looking forward to continuing a strategic discussion around some exciting new initiatives to be launched in 2017. It is of course a wonderful way to meet our members on the ground and we encourage those members in Perth and nearby regions to come and join the Board and your AILA WA Executive for a night of lawn bowls and drinks.
Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard