Anthropogenic landscapes support a high and rich diversity of plants which often create unusual or unique communities. Upon a given area there is generally a greater number of plant species than can be found in rural areas of the same size. This is not to say that the area has more carbon tied up or the volume is greater as it is generally far lower than what can be found in rural gardens of the same size.
There is a lot of evidence to indicate that native species are generally displaced by foreign species in the anthropogenic landscape. Further these gardens are more typical of heaths with several specie dominating large tracts, tracts far greater than originally found in most natural landscapes where suburbia now dominates. However, in some circumstances both native species of plants and foreign species of plants increase proportionally.
This species richness stems from an increase in foreign plant species at the expense of native species and the wildlife they support. Higher plant species richness is often supported by greater bird species and numbers particularly amongst the more aggressive sociable honeyeaters. The variability in urban landscape structure mainly concentrates on landscape materials and colour rather than what is beneficial to the environment, aspect or soil for example.
Anthropogenic landscapes still play a vital role in the greening of suburbs and cities; provide some contact with wildlife, wildlife corridors with additional social ecological benefits to the overall quality of life for everyone.
The use of foreign plants that have different moisture requirements have resulted in the establishment of different understory plants and soil fungal community compositions and diversity within these landscapes. Good examples are often seen with foreign Plectranthus sp., ferns, reeds, grasses and weeds displacing native ground Orchid species, native Violets and annuals that would normally grow abundantly on the land. Although not apparently significant but directly affected is the higher numbers of higher saprophytic fungi richness and diversity in the soils of parks where Eucalyptus specie dominate. Further studies are needed to underpin any major or significant long term affect foreign plants have on our soils.
Given the undoubted ecological complexity of urban green areas and the value of these ecosystems for society in terms of goods and services, it is imperative to select natives and to have 3 tier gardens and parks that are readily accessible and reliable to design balanced urban ecosystems by linking wildlife and biological parameters to human well being.
Urban native greenery needs to rid the image of Anthropogenic landscapes which dominate most cities starts with the local councils leading the way or the residents leading by example.
Grafton and I want to use Grafton as an example throughout this section as it is my hometown and I know it intimately. Grafton has the typical conservative council. In conservative I mean is slow to adapt new ideas and to try variations. Grafton has several great features that can be utilized in landscaping projects as it already has a large number of parks that link to each other throughout the city. The many historic buildings are separated from most the modern facilities which offer a great base when considering the environmental amenities for landscaping, which include the 10 items outlined below.
Most people know Grafton as “Jacaranda City” and over the years, there have been some spectacular photos taken of the Jacaranda trees in flower. When the trees are in flower they are stupendous but for many months the trees are bare, the streets lack real cohesion in greenery and lack that vibrancy of spring.
* Public furniture- variation with pride and carry your towns signature,
* Bikes and busses – pollution free almost,
* Ecological landscaping – make cities an extension of wildlife corridors,
* Construction to suit the amenity and environment,
* Urban index systems,
* Slow Town versus City Speed Centers,
* Cheaper than building freeways,
* Quicker access to most places 20 minutes per trip in Bogata Columbia,
* Business affects.
Public furniture in the landscape needs to be bold, inconspicuous, suit the amenity of the area, have some variation, display pride with your town’s individual signature. Most cities do not consider the furniture, all that important unless it is a special sculpturing feature. The 2 most important aspect of great landscape furniture must be that it is functional and affordable.
Traditional or modern the furniture could be open to competitions inviting local engineering, architectural companies and sculptures and artists to compete in designing suitable furniture for the area. Competitions in photography overseas is now used extensively in advertising campaigns to bring about more ideas, better concepts and interest from the public. Competitions raise pride in the district and often the project being put forward. The council would not be obliged to accept any single idea and is at liberty to mix ideas into their final decision.
Too often lighting like furniture is the last consideration and is more often considered as a last resort when the project is nearing completion and suffers as a result of lack of funds.
Lighting is notionally controllable despite coherent planning and evaluation of its real function in the landscape. The lighting is often poor with all night illumination even though there is nobody there to use it. A waste of resources and pollution when you consider its main use is for safer pedestrian movement.
When designing lighting in parks too many councils and councillors look at the means rather than what the real aim is for the lighting. If the visual affect and function of the lighting is concentrated on then very different outcomes would eventuate.
There have been some suggestions that lighting aids in public order and as a police aid. This has led to pathways being highly visible and over lit more often to appease the public and look impressive rather than the good urban landscaping. The use of parks for criminal activities has never been a strong issue in Grafton so well lit corridors all night long are not warranted. Compared with the 1950’s when lighting was insignificant in either parks or streets means the lighting should never have been installed for this reason. That is not to say that the same argument can be sighted in all circumstances in all districts now or in the future.
Bikes and Buses will play an important and integral part in modern car free cities. At first the idea of an automobile exclusion zone is one of horror, dismay and negativity yet when carefully analysed there are more positives than negatives.
Let’s first look at the positives of car free zones. Very low levels of car usage eventually results in much less traffic on surrounding roads which means less maintenance and greater safety for the elderly and children.
It has been found in cities that have already adopted car free zones that the rates of walking and cycling increased phenomenally leading to better health, less pollution and greater interrelationships between people. This led to more independent movement and active play amongst children within the car free zones and immediate neighbourhoods.
Less land was required for parking along with the roads which can be made available for more urban landscaping and people friendly activities.
Business’s have nothing to fear as business activities increase by 25% to 40% within months of the roads being transformed to people friendly zones with greenery. The business center of Coffs Harbour is a typical example of how car free zones can work efficiently for both the businesses and customers. The only failure was the shortage of trees in the landscape which led to a hard, cold look instead of creating a soft warm feeling.
In Bogoata surveys taken before and after the introduction of car free zones showed that more efficient movements occurred around the cities with the average person saving 20 minutes a trip which was the time taken to get in the car drive to the destination, find a park then walk to your intended place.
Car-centric landscapes place the sidewalks for pedestrians immediately adjacent to exhaust spewing vehicles with little to no thought for buffer zones. Freeways often dissect neighborhoods and lack appropriate pedestrian or bicycle infrastructure.
The residents in these urban automobile exclusion zones are letting their local councilors know, that these inspiring endeavors are a success by way of making them popular places to inhabit. Strøget, Copenhagen in Denmark has been free of cars since 1962 and is one of Copenhagen’s top destinations for shoppers and tourists.
Strøget’s biggest disapointment is the lack of trees depriving residents & tourists of a more relaxing day.
San Fransisco’s most crooked street where trees and shrubs rule of highways and roads.
Permanent success in car free zones requires a delicate balance of many essential prerequisites. The first is that pedestrian traffic is already there. People must be already utilizing the area for shopping, recreation or other needs. In China’s Sha Ping Ba district there are over 700 persons per hectare in the city center made it ideal for a project like the three Gorges Pedestrian Promenade, a large scale pedestrian only throughway in the center of town. Effectively six street blocks were closed to vehicular traffic to create four distinct zones that attracted recreation, socializing, shopping and dining for the surrounding residents.
Sha Ping Ba Promenade found success through a densely packed community & a shortage of open space in the area at the time unless you stroll through trough the botanic Garden.
Hay Street Perth gives a relaxing feeling while shopping or dinning.
Secondly the streets are not essential for current businesses to operate or through traffic. Grid streets usually offer cities better opportunities to develop no car zones. Diverting cars from congested areas can actually improve the flow of traffic in the surrounding areas. New York’s Times Square, was one of the most congested places in the world and went car free in 2010. When closed off the surrounding streets absorbed the flow and people’s decisions moved towards walking, biking or taking public transit to arrive at their destinations. Grafton’s streets offer the ideal opportunity to have an automobile exclusion zone for people linking the area to a park on the northern side and the river to the south.
Grafton’s grid system of roads lend itself to develop a casual vehicle free zone similar to the Coffs Harbour Mall or Hay street Perth.
Thirdly Community Input to programming and converting the site an area to an automobile exclusion zone is essential for a smooth transaction to take place. Despite this there will always be some outrage and some losers. In the end the community is the winner if properly orchestrated and the landscaping is appropriate to the needs and aesthetics of the area.
Street food vendors, kiosks, street performers, artists and more are needed to bring the spaces to life. People can be entertainers not and necessarily beggars. It may take a small contribution from councils and local businesses to ensure entertainment is ongoing similar to what happens in major shopping centers from time to time. Rent paid to the council for permanent kiosk space can be low as prior to removal of vehicles the roads cost far more money to maintain than the pedestrian thoroughfares.
Despite having vehicle free days, the lack of greenery distracts from the full potential of the street making it feel hot and unfriendly.
A Harpullia pendula lined street in Grafton NSW gives the full sense of a small rural community.
The fourth consideration is has the area got a natural attraction. It is a great advantage for any district if there is a unique or distinct regional attraction at the destination or in the heart of the proposal. Rarely can a city boast of having more than two features in a small area but Grafton can. Grafton is extremely fortunate that it has many Historic Buildings, a Clock Tower, Existing Park with facilities, a Beautiful River and magnificent views of the historic Double Draw Bridge all within reach of any such proposals. The problem will be to landscape the area in such a way that all the features are highlighted and can be photographed accordingly from many different perspectives and angles. Landscaping can make or ruin the total concept of plan.
Lastly Scale the proposals to the existing population with future populations in mind. The last thing people want to see Chicago’s State Street where left pedestrian’s felt isolated in a ghost town of modern proportions. People have to be comfortable walking or cycling from one end to the other.
The vast scale of Chicago’s State Street left pedestrian’s feeling out in the vastness of emptiness and desolation where as trees would soften the scene creating an atmosphere of calmness and pleasure.
As cities continue to evolve, we are steadily seeing a trend towards automobile exclusion zones where urban landscaping spaces can help provide economic, social and health benefits alongside traditional street infrastructure. Learning from past mistakes and present examples, we can successfully use the above tips to reorientate our neighbourhoods towards people, their health and the environment.
Ecological landscaping can be incorporated into wildlife corridors enhancing the environment for all the cities dwellers. The main goal of implementing habitat corridors is to increase biodiversity pleasure with the visual effects that create relaxation, softening of hard surfaces and areas where families can enjoy a day or few hours together. When areas of land are broken up by human interference, animal populations as well as human populations become disconnected, friendships and relationships become unstable and many animal and plant species become endangered.
Wildlife corridors are important for animals to be able to move and occupy new areas when food sources or other natural resources are lacking in their core habitat.
The migration of many birds is known and these birds often rely on continuous corridors for safety and food. This is particularly evident amongst smaller birds and mammals which are greatly affected by human development barriers.
In breeding of smaller animals occurs when the habitats are small and fragmented. Finding new mates in neighbouring regions is important in maintaining genetic diversity which has an overall positive impact on the whole population.
Some species have reacted more positively to corridors than others so the type of corridor is just as important as area it covers.
Corridors can either water or land. Water corridors or riparian zones usually occur as rivers, streams, rivulets and rills though lakes, ponds and billabongs along with dams can constitute a riparian zone. Land corridors can include large areas of woodland parks, strips connecting larger woodland areas or a simple avenue of trees and shrubs along the nature strip connecting parks together.
The latter type of corridor not only aid in the movement of small animals, especially birds fluttering from tree to tree, until they locate a safe habitat to nest, hunt and migrate. Even small birds need a minimum of a few hectares of native bush before they can breed succesfully.
Corridors are also aesthetically pleasing, which encourages the community to accept and support them as well as decreasing the likelyhood of vandalism and graffiti.
Another positive is the enhancement of the area can help create positive feedback with tourism potentially benefitting in the long term.
Positive aspects continue as the corridors allow both animals and humans to virtually inhabit the same locality in harmony, and thus coexist where without the corridor this would not be possible to achieve in any numbers.
Larger animals such as possums are more likely to be attracted to residential corridors remaining there to forage while looking for other locations.
Grafton again is in a good position to redevelop local corridors at minimal expense due to the large number of parks which are in close proximity to each other. With global warming and the consequent rise in sea levels will mean that further opportunities may exist to redevelop low lying land with existing parks and remnant forests scattered throughout the district. It is also important to landscape these corridors with local native plants and from local genetic material.
Construction of any new buildings should be done to suit the existing amenity and environment. Landscaping should enhance the visual appearance of the development and create a sustainable environment that is attractive and pleasing for the local inhabitants.
Where practical landscaping should improve the amenity of surrounding area and take into account the overall concept of wildlife corridors and drainage of the city.
Landscaping should conform to existing patterns to blend in with residential, public open space areas or wildlife corridors maintain or retain any existing vegetation, where practicable. Simple, low maintenance landscaping which complements existing landscaping themes and uses indigenous plants from local gene pools wherever possible. This is above what specific councils require,
Urban index systems
The urban index system is a biodiversity system which attempts to retain and increase the biodiversity in urban zones and is best applied from a cities overall strategic planning.
Urban green spaces include parks, forests, green roofs, waterways, lakes, foreshores and community gardens which all contribute and are critical to a healthy ecosystem. Open green spaces promote physical activity, psychological well-being and increase the health and living standards of all residents. It appears on the surface that the distribution of the above green spaces, disproportionately benefit white, more affluent communities. This is done by making access to green space more difficult for the poor or more correctly easier for the more affluent to access. Park poor neighbourhoods are generally found in older poorer dominated zones.
In Europe, America, Australia and China urban green space strategies are very similar being the creation of new green spaces to address environmental injustices. Solving these problems can make neighbourhoods healthier, more aesthetically attractive, with greater pride taken by residents and a greater appreciation of the general concepts of a healthier environment. The downside is it can increase housing costs and property values though this can be somewhat offset by creating higher density living. Ultimately, this can lead to gentrification and a displacement of the very residents the green space strategies were designed to benefit.
Leading sustainable communities are increasingly supporting biodiversity within their local area utilizing the natural geography of the area. Traditional regulations and regulators focus heavily on the minimal impact that a development has on an ecosystem and the protection of existing remnant ecosystem patches. They often do not take into account the history or improving the area, thus a slow spiralling decline in the environment continues to exist. In these cases; which are very typical, the city ends up with fragmented remnant ecosystems that completely break down with time losing their biodiversity especially amongst the higher order organisms that once lived there.
The new Landscape Biodiversity Index or LBI uses 10 or more indicators to track and measure the biodiversity in an area. Councils are better able to pre-empt development and aid developers with conceptual landscape ideas with an overview of what is required and how their plans can fit into the overall scheme for the city.
The LBI is based on one or more targeted species in the area and may change as the geography of the area changes. The development uses these target species as the basis of their calculations and preservation of the biosystem.
In coming to a resolution the landscape architect considers the Habitat Area and the habitat area available for development, Habitat Variety includes what presently exists and what the historical environment was like, Habitat Quality looks at the type of vegetation whether it is native, indigenous to the area and whether it covers a single tier or all three tiers of the forest, Habitat Patch considers the size, shape while Habitat Corridors considers the distances between the patches are able to be best connected.
* Assessment of the site: This involves the physical collecting of data from the site both existing and historically. In Australia historical refers to the period prior to the arrival of the first fleet. Map with geographical data. Prioritise the species and consider any effects Global Warming may have on those species and the ecosystem.
* Model Calibration: This requires empirical research from previous studies or personal experiences. These are often not available so developers should rely upon the Keystone method of analysing projects as a second resort. Calibrating the LBI requires assessment of the projected area plus the regional ecosystems and how they work together now and in the past bearing in mind the future wildlife corridors to bring the whole concept to fruition
* Baseline Measurement: The goal is to create a planned ecosystem which simulates to a degree what would have been previously encountered on site and measure it against the present situation. The base line is the present situation.
The scores are based on 5.
1 Being a Typical landscape or low quality habitat without much diversity,
2 Small size and of average landscapes or average quality habitats that are isolated,
3 Medium size average landscapes or average quality habitats,
4 Medium size high quality habitats,
5 Large size with high quality habitats.
* Planning & Scoring: Once the base line is known overall planning of the new project can be drafted with different models to find the most effective plan for the environment and for the developer.
* Targets and Guidelines: This can take on two methods. The first is to create detailed drawings with plants and other features while the second is usually done on larger parcels of land. It requires lots to be developed with the view of attaining a certain LBI score. Each lot may be developed by individual developers or as the project advances can be incorporated into the overall plan.
* Measurement of the Project: Redefines the scores and measures progress against the base line and estimated outcomes.
* Verification: Following completion of the landscaping project it can be monitored, against existing parameters to verify the aims were achieved.
Slow Town versus City Speed Centers
Fired by the success and support for Slow Food campaign which banned fast food, the Italians set about initiating the Slow Cities movement. Slow cities are characterised by a special life style that incorporates a more relaxing pace with family green values at the centre. It is more traditional with traditional concepts playing important roles in people’s lives. Towns and cities that focus on people, people’s health, people’s environment down to a person’s well being oppose the fast-lane, homogenized world so often seen in cities where pollution runs rampant, parks and gardens are few and cars and machinery is more important than the local residents.
Slow cities have less traffic, less noise, less stress, fewer crowds, more tourists, more leisure time activities and more time for each other. It is a concept that we all espouse to but often believe it is out of our control.
Strangely enough Grafton meets most of the criteria to be called a slow town yet most the councillors oppose all moves to have Grafton gazetted a slow town.
The first criterion of a slow town is the population cannot exceed 50,000 residents. Presently there are 3 towns in Australia which call themselves “Slow Towns.” – Goolwa, Katoomba and Yea.
The Slow City manifesto contains 55 pledges or criteria, grouped into six categories upon which cities are assessed; Environmental policy, Infrastructure, Quality of urban fabric, Encouragement of local produce and products, hospitality and community and City Slow awareness. To qualify to be called a Slow City and to use the snail logo, a city must be vetted and regularly checked by inspectors to make sure it is living up to the Slow City standard of conduct.
Looking at the following criteria I believe it would be very easy for Grafton to become a slow town and profit from the deal.
- Environmental Goals:
A1 Apparatus to test air quality and report on conditions *
A2 Policies to maintain the quality of water supplies and ensure pollution free water in rivers and waterways *
A3 Plans for the implementation of new composting technology and the promotion of home composting
A4 Mechanisms to measure light pollution and action plans to reduce it
A5 Incentives to encourage the use of alternative sources of energy
A6 Mechanisms to measure electromagnetic pollution and action plans to reduce it
A7 Apparatus to measure noise pollution and policies to reduce it *
A8 Policies to eliminate advertising and signage clutter
A9 Application of a formal Environmental Management System *
A10 Participation in and support for local Agenda 21 projects
B. Infrastructure Goals
B1 Existence of well maintained public green spaces *
B2 Development and implementation of an integrated traffic management and access strategy that addresses the
needs of pedestrians and conserves the historic character of the town – The development of an automobile exclusion zone would go a long way in sealing this criteria
B3 Disability friendly access to public places and public offices *
B4 Infrastructure that facilitates alternative mobility such as walking and cycling
B5 Easily accessible public conveniences *
B6 Places throughout the town for people to sit down and rest
B7 Customer friendly and uniform opening hours for all council offices
B8 Provision of a Public Relations service to answer media and other queries about the town
B9 Provision of a customer response service to answer public queries about Cittaslow
B10 Initiatives that encourage local businesses to open at times that coincide with local residents’ needs
C. Urban Fabric Goals
C1 Plans to promote the maintenance, conservation and enhancement of historic areas, buildings and artifacts of
cultural and local significance *
C2 Policies to protect property and ensure the safety of the community *
C3 Initiatives to encourage the use of recyclable or reusable crockery and cutlery in local establishments *
C4 Policies to ensure effective litter and waste management including the provision of sympathetically designed litter bins *
C5 Initiatives to plant environment enhancing plants in public and private gardens *
C6 Provision and promotion of interactive websites where the public can communicate with the administrators of the town
C7 Policies to promote eco-friendly architecture *
C8 Production of a Town Plan, Conservation Area Appraisal, Town Design Statement or similar to promote appreciation of historic centres and to make them user friendly. *
D. Local Produce & Products Goals
D1 Maintenance of an up to date register of locally produced goods and producers within the natural hinterland of the town
D2 Organization of events and training to raise public awareness and appreciation of local cultural and artistic *
traditions and skills
D3 Policies to encourage and provide space for farmers and organic markets *
D4 Policies to increase awareness of good food and nutrition *
D5 Educational programmes to encourage and support organic, traditional and sustainable farming
D6 Policies to preserve and support unique local foodstuffs
D7 Policies to encourage organic farming and the independent quality certification of produce and products
D8 Initiatives to create awareness of traditional foodstuffs
D9 Policies to protect and support goods and produce that represent local traditions
E. Hospitality & Community Goals
E1 Commitment to develop a local Slow Food convivial
E2 Provision of multi lingual sign posting and visitor information *
E3 Provision of customer service training for all those providing services to visitors *
E4 Development and maintenance of well marked tourist routes with interpretation and information
E5 Production of printed guides about Cittaslow in the town
E6 Promotion of a wide cross section of social events, sports clubs and volunteering opportunities for the whole community
E7 Provision of managed car parks in areas offering easy access to the town centre *
E8 Promotion of special local events to encourage local people to enjoy local facilities and participate fully in community life
E9 Promotion of local initiatives that link into Cittaslow goals and principles
F. Cittaslow Awareness Goals
F1 Maintenance of a Directory of local organisations contributing to the aims and objectives of Cittaslow
F2 Display of the Cittaslow logo in public places and on official documents
F3 Promotion of the movement’s aims and objectives to local residents and visitors
F4 Maintenance of a website that illustrates how Cittaslow themes are applied in the town
F5 Promotion of family life and healthy living for all age groups
F6 Provision of monitoring systems and budgets to enhance the town’s score against the Cittaslow membership goals
F7 Collation of media coverage relating to Cittaslow in the town
F8 Initiatives to involve local businesses, organisations and opinion formers in promoting Cittaslow and enhancing
the town’s performance against the membership goals
F9 Policies to encourage schools, hospitals, community facilities and local businesses to use local produce, products and services.
Cheaper than building freeways Bogata mayor was quick to point out that it was cheaper to transform old roads, alleys and vacant land and construct new bicycle avenues lined with trees and shrubs than what it was to construct a new highway. It takes commitment and a complete about face from today’s attitudes and expectancies of often minority groups to implement new programmes.
Competitions I mentioned the use of competitions under the heading of landscape furniture. Traditional or modern furniture could be open to competitions inviting local engineering, architectural companies, sculptures and artists to compete in designing suitable furniture for the area. Competitions in photography overseas is now used extensively in advertising campaigns to bring about more ideas, better concepts and interest from the public. Competitions raise pride in the district and often the project being put forward. The council would not be obliged to accept any single idea and is at liberty to mix ideas into their final decision.
Competitions like the one I suggested above have a duel affect for the city. They save the organiser a lot of time and money in employing people to come up with a design or concept. The prise money brings forward more people with many variable ideas and often has other suggestions which the organisers had not thought of. The spin offs are varied and many including public pride in their community with a feeling the council does care for their input. Gives locals the added advantage of belonging and supports locals especially if the eventual winner happens to be local. It also gives local businesses a chance to meet their rivals and see how and what their rivals are thinking and the general direction they are taking.
Quicker Access to most places which culminated in the average person saving 20 minutes per trip in large cities like Bogata in Columbia. Similar results have been found in the Philippines, France, Germany, Holland and Denmark. In Bogata surveys taken before and after the introduction of car free zones showed that more efficient movements occurred around the cities with the average person saving 20 minutes a trip which was the time taken to get in the car drive to the destination, find a park then walk to your intended place compared to walking or driving.
Studies I conducted in Chong Qing China were sparked after I rode from the Niu Jioa Tuo to Sha Ping Ba. The 9 kilometer trip took my wife 10 minutes longer in a taxi than I and it was mid morning not peak hours.
My studies here concluded that 5 minutes to 15 minute is saved on each trip for students who lived in the same high rise apartments and attended the 3 local middle schools in the district. That is 10 minutes to 30 minutes a day 6 days a week. It also had to be noticed if they needed to find car parks the times would show greater variation as all the parents in the study dropped their children at the front or back gate. Times were taken from the time they closed the door until they step foot in their classroom or placed their bag into their locker.
Business affects Cities need to consider businesses closely and monitor the effects of landscaping around their entrances as not to block or make the access difficult or alter the visibility of the business.
Business’s have nothing to fear from road closures and greening their immediate surroundings as business activities increased by 25% to 40% within months of the roads being transformed to people friendly zones. The noticeable exception was the State Street experiment in Chicago where none of the criteria for a well designed automobile exclusion zone were met and addressed. The business center of Coffs Harbour is a typical example of how car free zones can work efficiently for both the businesses and customers. The only failure was the shortage of trees in the landscape which led to a hard, cold look instead of creating a soft warm feeling.
Noted Dangers Associated with Anthropogenic Heaths
Rapid increases in human population has led directly to rapid urbanisation, rapid spread of highways and arterial roads giving rapid rise to a chequered mosaic of woodlands, complete deforestation, weeds and grasslands crisscrossed with roads and railways. Ugliness from every aspect one cares to look at it.
The rapid rise in these anthropogenic heaths are virtually green desert landscapes. Landscape developers and real estate agents are so proud of these denuded deserts of wildlife when releasing the land they still espouse to the beauty they have created using fast growing exotics with large abundantly coloured flowers to attract the buyers. In fact it is a scourge, a scar upon the very land they sell which once held an abundance of beautiful organisms.
The effects of anthropogenic heaths have not been studied in detail to date as to the affects of Global warming or otherwise. Gardening though does bring together a rich source of floras from various geographical locations and habitats from throughout the world. As a result there is a large reduction in abiotic and biotic stresses that plants are now unnecessarily subject to. This becomes the biggest source of potentially invasive alien weeds and non local native geographical plants. With global warming shifts of only 1 degree centigrade outside the norm can enhance a once benign plants chances to become a feral weed of massive proportions.
In New Zealand alone where 25,000 alien species have been introduced in 150 years the chances of feral occupation is extremely high. This must be considered real as in Australia there are presently 32 alien plants which are now declared noxious weeds, 28 alien species on the verge of being declared noxious weeds and more than double these numbers as sleepers that are slowly increasing their range.
What is known is that average temperatures in cities are warmer than in the surrounding districts even after the anthropogenic heaths have been established and thriving. It is these increased temperatures coupled with global warming that is increasing worrying to scientists and researchers.
Urban landscapes with predominantly alien species and lawns use more than 400% more water than local indigenous plants adding considerably to the energy levels of water treatment and distribution.
With the establishment of gardens at higher elevations and latitudes further north and south gardeners are moving away from deciduous and fine leaf species to broad leaf hardwoods that emit higher levels of isoprenes and monoterpenes which are both volatile gasses further adding further to the atmospheric warming. This is further accentuated by the use of fertilizers and water which creates quick initial growth. The tall 3 tiered forests are yielding to heaths of a single tier.
The idea of creating 3 tier wildlife corridors throughout urban areas has much merit but needs further investigation to remove prove the many hypothesis correct. In the mean time we can start by developing sustainable long term 3 tier parks for our enjoyment and satisfaction.
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