FREMANTLE council is set to become the first Australian council to join the International Biophilic Cities network.
Biophilic cities contain “abundant biodiversity and nature, which works to conserve and enhance that nature, and provides its residents with opportunities to learn about and connect with the natural environment” according to the council’s finance and operations committee agenda.
Fremantle will have to increase its tree planting to get at least 20 per cent canopy coverage and increase the number of peopel living within 400 metres of a bit of greenery in order to secure its spot in the network.
The international project is headed by Professor Tim Beatley at the University of Virginia and funded by the Summit Foundation, whose chairman Roger W. Sant has a lengthy history of environmental projects, having been chair of the World Wildlife Fund in the 90s and a regent emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution for years.
For a one-off fee of US$250, Fremantle will be included on the Biophilic Cities social media network and have access to information sharing with the 12 other cities in the project, which include Wellington in New Zealand, Singapore and Austin, Texas among others.
The agenda listed several attention-seeking benefits for the city to signing up before considering what it might mean for residents, but the council’s director of strategic planning Paul Garbett says it’s not just a social media stunt.
“Being part of a global network will make it easier for the city to share information with other cities and learn more about what other cities are doing in this field and how that could be applied locally,” Mr Garbett said.
“Activities in these areas could include not only planting more trees but putting measures in place to protect existing parks and nature reserves, creating new nature spaces and making access to these areas easier.”
He says the City of Fremantle is committed preserving and enhancing its green spaces and biodiversity.
“Becoming a member of the Biophilic Cities Network would reinforce that commitment.”
by EMILEE NEESON