To become an eco-city the living, working, cultural and recreational activities of the municipality will be integrated into a dense and liveable urban ecosystem at the hub of a metropolitan network of similar urban nodes, creating environmental, economic, social and health benefits alike for the metropolitan area and the municipality.
Future Melbourne 2008
A very high number of people made statements about eco-living in the dense urban centre of Melbourne. Feedback here covered two main themes, inner city biodiversity and inner city food growing.
People overwhelmingly wanted more planting in the city, this included in places visible from streets, in designated areas, and in innovative places like rooftops and walls. More vegetation was seen as beneficial to people mainly for health and wellbeing reasons. Plants that were edible or useful to attract birds or animals to the city were also important.
Summary of ideas (total 193 Statements)
Biodiversity in a dense urban centre (67 Statements)
A large number of people made comments encouraging more biodiversity in the urban centre.
A large number of people stated that their preference was either for more vegetation in Melbourne, for exampling, ‘greening the city’, or simply more trees. Many people used the words ‘ecosystem’ or ‘biodiversity’ to convey their priorities for Melbourne city. Some people provided detailed ideas proposing restoring or recreating historic ecosystems in the city, phrased individually as Aboriginal, pre-European, natural, or wild.
Living Eco Community Archive -- … there a few places in the inner city that remind us of the 'wild' landscapes that overlooked Port Phillip Bay over two centuries ago. Informed by historical literature and expert knowledge, a living archive of ecological communities could see small, disused or vacant spaces that have little other amenity value turned into valuable botanical reference sites. These would be created to represent the diversity of indigenous flora that existed in the city prior to European settlement…
Melbourne should set itself the challenge of repairing and reconnecting the ecosystem that has been displaced. Much could be achieved within the ten years of the Future Melbourne 2026 scenario.
Some people recommended nature strips/corridors (i.e. one person specified Bourke, Latrobe, and Swanston Streets as ideal for this), and some recommended attention to understorey as an important biodiversity measure. Individual statements mentioned urban agriculture, and high green walkways as ways to increase biodiversity.
People stated a broad range of benefits could be attributed to increased urban biodiversity. These fitted into two themes: socio-cultural benefits and ecological benefits. One of the ecological benefits that many saw as important was biodiversity for animals and birds to use as habitat.
Many statements directly addressed urban biodiversity to attract animal life into the city. Feedback on this aspect of biodiversity was centred on attracting more birds to the city, and for several other people, more bees were the issue. Some people stated that attracting more creatures through diverse urban vegetation was a good idea, one of these identified possums in particular, as species to support.
Food Growing (67 Statements)
enabling, encouraging and education on food growing
Many people identified that Melbourne could make better use of its city space to enable increased food growing. Rooftops were highlighted by many as ideal sites for this. There were several detailed ideas about rooftop gardens within conversations. Some supported the idea for the following reasons, reducing carbon emissions, reducing pollution, beautifying the city, supporting local biodiversity, encouraging rain harvesting within urban spaces, saving space, creating a closed nutrition loop of food production and managing consumption and waste through composting organics and food.
Another conversation discussed the idea of Melbourne city as a ‘food bowl’. With advances in vertical gardening, food-bowl initiatives could be resource efficient — particularly with regard to water. A few people agreed with this idea, citing the following reasons; it is a good way to use underutilised space in the city; it could help connect people back to the food cycle; provide solutions to social and environmental problems, including reducing city temperatures; assist in food security; and, create jobs for people displaced from work by new technologies.
One conversation stressed the importance of reviewing policies and planning related to food innovation and sustainability. These included permit applications, procurement by-laws and tendering processes, along with a reduction in existing rules. This person also saw the need to improve and enable processes that encourage food innovation. One other person agreed with the above idea, because they felt the current system of rules and policies led many people to abandon great ideas. The following statement illustrates this point.
… many a great idea is abandoned due to the layers of obligation that working with council suggests. Reality should enable a clear path of safe food regulations, planning and affordability so that small and/or community organisations have an opportunity for activity.
Another short conversation proposed the idea of creating a food task-force which was seen as a more diverse and fair food system. It was described as follows.
People’s Food Task-force -- Empowering citizens to create a fair food task-force. The task-force would promote a shared understanding of the food system as it currently exists, identifying key challenges for action. Partnering with the community, the task-force would support grass roots initiatives, whilst developing strategies and policies for a more sustainable and resilient future.
One person, in connection to increasing urban agriculture, suggested appointing an officer to oversee and encourage urban agriculture. A few people suggested creating urban gardens in schools, existing and future green spaces, or strips within the city.
A couple of statements highlighted the importance of soil to urban food production, and a couple more suggested incentives to individuals, businesses and body corporates who encourage rooftop and urban farming within their buildings.
Food growing in community gardens
Many statements identified community gardens as important when living in a dense urban centre. Points made on this topic used the following terms: community gardens/gardening, permaculture, productive planting, urban green commons, allotments, and community food forests; all statements were in favour of more of these elements.
Take the community gardens out to the streets, less regulation and allow more productive planting for the community to look after. Encourage community socialising and community pride. Also cooling down the planet!
The above statement touched on the range of perceived benefits to the city of having community gardens. Other benefits mentioned included the promotion of healthy eating, reducing waste, reducing food miles, increased social connectivity and cohesiveness, demonstrating to children where food comes from, and providing access to gardening as a leisure activity.
Urban edible planting
Edible plants were identified by many as ideal for urban centres. People wanted to see productive plantings in urban areas, as a means of increasing people’s access to food, and as a means to better utilise scarce urban space.
There are plenty of urban dwellers who don't have access to a garden but would happily tend some of the garden spaces within the city and inner suburbs. Grow more fruit trees (olives and figs) and herbs and edible flowers so that people can harvest from shared street gardens.
Fruit trees were identified by some as the main edible item from plantings, and one person suggested selling excess fruit to offset set up costs.
Brief supportive statements (59 Statements)
Many short statements were made which were generally supportive of creating a green or eco city. This is one of those statements, which is similar to many others.
Love to see an eco city that is also continues to be alive with art