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Biological potential in cities: An estimate from Melbourne

Croeser, Thami
Urban forestry & urban greening 2016 v.16 pp. 84-94
cities, ecosystem services, geographic information systems, microclimate, models, urban areas, vegetation, Australia
Despite the many benefits of vegetation in urban settings, inner-city areas often are sparsely vegetated or devoid of plants. This suggests substantial opportunity for improving provision of ecosystem services in densely populated areas, through retrofitting of urban environments with plants. This paper introduces the concept of ‘biological potential’ – the pragmatic potential for urban areas to be retrofitted with suitable green infrastructure.This paper demonstrates a method for making a quantitative, spatially explicit estimate of the biological potential of walls in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia. The results of this study represent an estimate of how much wall space could be home to green façade plants (i.e. creepers and climbers). The methodology is also spatially explicit – it estimates where the best locations in the city are for this kind of greening, recognising that not all walls have suitable physical characteristics or local microclimates. Employing a combination of GIS and microclimatic modelling techniques, this study estimates that over 16ha of wall space has potential for greening in Melbourne's CBD, with 1.8ha showing optimal characteristics.