The role of parks, playgrounds and natural areas is becoming increasingly important in our cities and suburbs. We know through our Liveability Index survey of our communities that the proximity and quality of local parks and natural environments are key drivers of liveability, particularly in more populated cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020, as people have increasingly ventured out in their local areas for physical exercise and perhaps more importantly, their mental wellbeing, the significance of green spaces has increased.
Across our two major projects in western Sydney, Willowdale in the South West and Elara in the North West, we will be creating close to 60 hectares of parklands, twice the size of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden. Both projects will feature picnic areas, open park areas and a combined 12 kilometres of walking trails with a variety of environments to experience along the way, including native food trails and bird watching facilities.
Project Director, Patrick Noble, said, “Creating spaces for our residents to get out and explore nature is not only important to the lifestyle and wellbeing of our residents but also fosters pockets of biodiversity in Greater Sydney.”
Over 1.1 million plants will be planted across both projects, building on the existing natural areas and protecting and enhancing endangered riparian forests and the Cumberland Plain Woodland ecological community. As at August 2020 we have completed close to 50% of the planting. The application of Water Sensitive Urban Design principles within both communities will filter rainwater runoff and protect and enhance wetland habitat. Ongoing conservation activities such as weed removal and formalisation of walking trails will continue to improve the role of these parkland corridors for biodiversity habitat, and will support migration opportunities for native plant and animal species across Sydney’s west.
Across all our projects we have set ourselves a target to achieve a net positive outcome for biodiversity measured using our biodiversity masterplan calculator. The calculator is broadly based on the biodiversity calculators used by the GBCA to support their Green Star tools, and has been adapted by our consultants, Eco Logical Australia, to ensure relevance for large masterplanned communities.