Improving sustainability will involve: incorporating natural landscape features into the urban environment; protecting and managing natural systems; cooling the urban environment; innovative and efficient use and re-use of energy, water and waste resources; and building the resilience of communities to natural and urban hazards, shocks and stresses.
All aspects of sustainability rely on maintaining and managing green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is the network of green spaces, natural systems and semi-natural systems that support sustainable communities. Its connected elements are waterways; urban bushland; urban tree canopy and green ground cover; parks and open spaces.
Parks and gardens, remnant bushland and tree-lined streets also attract and sustain the talent required for Greater Sydney to thrive as a global city. Optimising and protecting existing assets will be essential in ensuring the ongoing health and sustainability of the District.
The South District has a vast diversity of landscapes, from bushland, national parks and reserves, coastal headlands and escarpments, coastal sand dunes, ocean beaches, estuaries, wetlands and waterways. The Royal National Park, proclaimed in 1879, is the second oldest national park in the world. Urban neighbourhoods are nestled between rivers and valleys, on the sandstone Woronora Plateau and on areas of the low-lying Cumberland Plain.
Improving the health of the South District’s coast and waterways will provide habitat for aquatic ecosystems and help cool the urban environment. The Cooks River, Georges River, Botany Bay, Port Hacking and the coastline form the District’s eastern edge and help define its identity. They are important for swimming, boating and other forms of recreation.
The Greater Sydney Green Grid – the regional network of high quality green spaces and tree-lined streets that support walking, cycling and community access to open spaces – will provide cool, green links throughout the District. Expansion of the urban tree canopy will complement the Green Grid and support the cooling of neighbourhoods. The planning and design of new communities create opportunities to enhance the District’s urban tree canopy.
The District’s rural areas include mineral resources that supply construction materials as well as bushland that provides habitat for local wildlife and offset sites for biodiversity.
As the South District grows, improvements in the ways buildings and precincts are planned and designed, and the way water and energy infrastructure is delivered, can support more efficient use of resources and lower carbon emissions. The management of waste will present both an environmental challenge and an economic opportunity. New approaches to how waste materials and resources are re-used within a circular economy will help reduce impacts on the environment.
The District’s climate and natural landscape can create natural hazards such as bushfire, flooding, storms, coastal inundation and erosion and heatwaves. Natural and urban hazards will be exacerbated by climate change. Supporting actions that mitigate climate change and actions that assist communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change will be important.
For the South District, an integrated approach to improving sustainability can be achieved by the following Planning Priorities:
S13. Protecting and improving the health and enjoyment of the District’s waterways
S14. Protecting and enhancing bushland, biodiversity and scenic and cultural landscapes and better managing rural areas
S15. Increasing urban tree canopy cover and delivering Green Grid connections
S16. Delivering high quality open space
S17. Reducing carbon emissions and managing energy, water and waste efficiently
S18. Adapting to the impacts of urban and natural hazards and climate change.
Green infrastructure and greener places
Green infrastructure is fundamental to creating a high quality of life and is important in creating a region that is climate resilient and adaptable to future needs. The NSW Government’s green infrastructure policy Greener Places: Establishing an urban green infrastructure policy for New South Wales was produced by the Government Architect NSW to guide the planning, design and delivery of green infrastructure. The draft policy also highlights the role of green roofs and walls, private and semiprivate residential gardens and agricultural land that complement green infrastructure and help support more sustainable places.
The policy is based on a green infrastructure framework that has three key components:
- Bushland and Waterways – delivering green infrastructure for habitat and ecological health
- The Urban Tree Canopy – delivering green infrastructure for climate change adaptation and resilience
- Parks and Open Space – delivering green infrastructure for people.