Managing and mitigating climate impacts through good planning and design
Reducing emissions is the critical first step
Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions primarily from land-use change and the burning of fossil fuels that release of million year old gases is heating up the planet.
The number one priority step is to drastically reduce emissions.
AILA is calling on Australian landscape architects projects to be climate positive by 2030. We are setting a 2030 emissions reduction target of 75%, with a climate positive outcome through soil and plant based sequestration.
Our 2040 target is to have zero embodied emissions.
Here are 10 things you can do to minimise your projects greenhouse gas emissions:
- Minimise unnecessary soil disturbance to could lead to losses of soil carbon
- Retain as many existing trees on site as possible, particularly larger trees
- Reduce the extent of high carbon elements such as concrete, steel, aluminium and kiln dried timber
- Specify low carbon alternatives where you cannot design these out. Replace grey infrastructure with green
- Prioritise high-quality ground preparation, and maximise soil volumes and root plate area for tree planting pits so our trees have the best possible foundation for growth. Carefully match any manufactured soil to specific species mix requirements
- Incorporate water sensitive urban design ideas, such as sponge cities, passive irrigation and on-site capture and re-use.
- Find space for as many large trees as possible on your sites for long term adaptation benefits and sequestration
- Use a biodiverse species mix to provide habitat and ecological values, to encourage pollinators and provide high carbon outcomes
- Specify biodynamic / pro-biotic fertilisers that don’t release nitrous oxide like chemical based ammonium nitrate fertilizers
- Specify that all maintenance on the project is carried out with electric powered equipment. Raise awareness with local councils, land managers and landscape contractors
Why good soil and healthy trees are so important to climate positive design?
The only greenhouse gas we can pull out of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide (CO2).
Nature based solutions are part of the everyday toolkit used by landscape architects.
Responses to climate are often placed into two key areas. Firstly Mitigation measures that directly reduce green house gases that are heating up the planet. And secondly adaptation, which is about responding to changes anticipated with rising temperatures and climate change.
In reality the work of Landscape architects integrates both, along with other co-benefits such as biodiversity, health and well being.
When we plant a street tree it is providing both mitigation and adaptation outcomes. It mitigates by pulling C02 out of the atmosphere helping to cool the planet. It provides adaptation from its shade which stops pavements heating up and contributing to urban heat island effect. It captures urban storm water and filters pollutants out of the atmosphere. The tree also has multiple co-benefits. It is attractive to look at, in a park it provides health and well being benefits, along with nesting and food for insects and birds.