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February 24, 2021 Wednesday 11:13:30 AM IST

Identifying the Green Canopy for Schools

Best Practices

Macquarie University has started a project to identify tress that will provide the best shade for Western Sydney school yards are summers are getting hotter in Australia. The year 2019 was the warmest year on record with maximum and minimum temperatures above average. Prof Michelle Leishman and his team at Macquarie University led a team that looked at the 30 most commonly planted trees in Western Sydney and selected the best ones for school playgrounds.  The trees were selected based on various criteria: Are the leaves poisonous? Do they drop soft fruit that children could slip on? Do they produce pollen that is an irritant? Do they have green limbs that are at risk of dropping? The Which Where Plant Project is about “selecting the right plants for the right urban space with an eye on the future”. 

“We need climate smart trees that can cope with the increase of 49°C days we are expecting,” Leishman says.  “The most suitable trees we found for school yards in the Western Sydney area were jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) and weeping lilly pilly (Syzygium floribundum), as well as weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) and Queensland brush box (Lophostemon confertus) .”  

The joint project of Macquarie University and Western Sydney University called School Microclimates, was a part of the Cool Schools initiative of Western Sydney University, and co-funded by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, WSU and Macquarie.