Can we have more trees as well as more buildings? Yes we can, and we must. Read on to find out why and how.

There’s an intense burst of “densification” going on in Adelaide: we’re creating compact suburbs so more people can live closer to transport, services and each other.

Most obvious is the growth in what’s called minor infill, where existing buildings are demolished, and the land often subdivided to allow more people to live in the same area. This currently accounts for around 40% of new residences in Greater Adelaide.

There are many social, economic and environmental advantages to this, not the least because tighter communities encourage walking, cycling and public transport, and that keeps cars off the road. It also helps avoid urban sprawl into undeveloped areas on the edges of the city, maintaining natural areas and habitat for native wildlife.

The downside, of course, is that when buildings go up, trees tend to come down. Each year between 2013 and 2017 Adelaide’s green cover diminished by an area estimated to be equivalent to 150 Adelaide Ovals.

But it doesn’t have to. More land dedicated to buildings might mean less is available for vegetation, but we can achieve a lot if we use the available space wisely and well. We need to find the sweet spot. Think green walls and roofs. We can achieve a lot if we all work together.

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Here are a few guiding principles:

  • Don’t assume (or let people convince you) that trees have to be removed as part of your new home demolition or renovation. It may seem more convenient at the time, but it’s costly in the long run.
  • If a tree doesn’t appear to be in the ideal spot, consider how your building design or processes can be tweaked to make it fit. You’re creating a home and garden.
  • Give trees and plants the best chance to prosper. Seek advice on what’s best to plant and how to incorporate what’s known as WSUD (water sensitive urban design).

Keen to learn more about the benefits trees in urban areas? Read about why Adelaide's greenery is key to our city’s liveability.

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