HomeNewsAustraliaGardener Sophia Pashalis advocates for more trees in Melbourne's western suburbs

Gardener Sophia Pashalis advocates for more trees in Melbourne’s western suburbs

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Gardener, Sophia Pashalis, is an advocate for planting more trees in her suburb of Sunshine West, Melbourne, with the decline of tree canopies in the area affecting temperatures.

In a 2018 study, scientists revealed the western suburbs of Melbourne have the lowest tree canopy in the city. Using arial mapping, the researchers discovered the western suburbs averaged less than six per cent in tree canopies, while the eastern suburbs averaged around 26 per cent. Sunshine West, in the City of Brimbank local government area, is part of the six per cent.

Tree canopies help to keep the suburbs cooler especially in the warmer months, and can also decrease the need for air-conditioning use.

Green spaces and shade improve our mental health, and play a vital role in keeping us cool during the hot days, according to Melbourne GP Jennifer Conway.

GP Conway is a member of the Doctors for the Environment, an advocacy organisation showing the impacts of the environment on health. She further stated in regards to the issue of declining trees, “There is lots of evidence about how important green space is to our health—both physical and mental.”

The Greek Australian gardener is living proof that spending in the garden amongst the trees contributes to her overall quality of life. Mrs Pashalis says it’s a form her therapy for her. She finds it calming to wander her garden, clipping plants and maintaining the wellbeing of her trees.

According to ABC news, Mrs Pashalis further added, “The more trees you have, the cooler the place will be, the better the oxygen we will have, the trees will bring in the moisture.”

Melbourne’s west. Photo: Nic Walker

Mrs Pashalis is a member of the West Sunshine Multicultural Senior Citizens Club in Melbourne. In a meeting at the citizens club, members said Mrs Pashalis is one of the fiercest advocates for more trees in Sunshine West and the western suburbs, according to ABC news.

Thami Croeser, an urban planner in Melbourne who studies ways to make cities greener, says there is a tug of war going on around trees, ABC news reported.

Trees on private land are being lost to urban development and while the council endeavours to keep up with the decline by planting on public land, Croeser believes, “It can be one of those two steps back, one step forward things.”

In a Monash University study researchers found temperatures rising by up to 13 degrees Celsius in the suburb of Sunshine west because of the declining tree canopies and urban development in the area.

The suburb, along with local government area of Brimbank, experience “heat island” effect in summer due to the lack of tree canopies in the suburbs, according to scientists. This makes certain parts of the western suburbs hotter and affect people mentally and physically during the summer months.

Melbourne’s west. Photo: Isamu Sawa

Mrs Pashalis and her friends at the West Sunshine Multicultural Senior Citizens Club want more trees and parks in the neighbourhood, but are concerned by urban development taking over.

Mayor Tony Briffa of the Hobsons Bay City Council in the western suburbs says the council is endeavouring to turn things around with an “urban-forest strategy developed to increase canopy cover to 30 per cent by 2040.”

“It’s an ambitious target but we are working really hard to meet it,” Mayor Briffa added.

Source: ABC news

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