DELWP has worked in partnership with RMIT University, CSIRO, and the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Hub of the National Environmental Science Program to map and analyse vegetation, land use, and urban heat across Melbourne. The project has been supported by our implementation partner Melbourne Water.

The project used UrbanMonitor – a digital aerial photography monitoring system developed by the CSIRO – to create the first high-resolution map that records the baseline of urban vegetation across Melbourne. This project mapped imagery in 2014 and 2018.

For the first time, we can precisely measure the area of tree, shrub and grass cover at a land parcel level and track changes in this area over time.

Mapping and analysing vegetation helps us to understand the relationship between urban vegetation cover and the urban heat island effect. We have also prepared a vulnerability assessment to identify areas that are vulnerable to heat waves. This assessment takes into account the location of vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly, very young and those with lower capacity to adapt to heat.

The project delivers an important component of the ‘Cooling and Greening Melbourne’ work program (Action 91) of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 and will support the creation and expansion of urban forests and cooling measures throughout metropolitan Melbourne. It will also enable us to track our progress towards a cooler and greener city.

Project Progress

The completion of 2018 vegetation, urban heat, and heat vulnerability data is a significant milestone in the project. This data has been added to the 2014 data available on Spatial Datamart. Cooling and greening datasets can be accessed here:

An interactive Mapshare tool that consolidates 2014 and 2018 data in a single platform has also been developed: Cooling and Greening Melbourne Interactive Map. The map provides a visual representation of vegetation cover, land surface temperature and the urban heat vulnerability assessment.

Why we need to measure and monitor our urban forest

Vegetation mapping is done locally in many different ways which makes it difficult to have a clear picture of vegetation cover at a metropolitan scale and at a high enough resolution for local decision-making.

Key benefits of improved mapping and monitoring include:

  • enabling evidence-based planning and decision-making for urban forests
  • informing greening targets and tracking progress
  • assisting with identifying priority areas for action and investment
  • providing a resource for local government to develop local greening strategies, and
  • providing a baseline for monitoring the implementation of greening strategies and regulatory responses.

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Page last updated: 06/11/19