Keeping our city cool

Climate change is impacting our city in many ways, from increasing urban heat and increasing flood risk. Living infrastructure, such a trees, wetlands, and green spaces, is an important way to improve community resilience to climate change and keep our city cool.

Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan (the Plan) sets out the Government’s commitment to maintain and improve living infrastructure within urban Canberra. The Plan's success will rely on the government, local business and our community taking collective action to care for and enhance our living infrastructure.

What is living infrastructure and why do we need it?

Living infrastructure comprises vegetation, soils and water systems and

In Canberra's urban context this includes street trees, ovals, wetlands, creeks, parks and nature reserves, private yards, green roofs, balconies and living walls.

One of the downfalls of built infrastructure, such as buildings and pavements, is that these materials trap, then slowly release heat. This is known as the 'urban heat island effect' and leads to higher temperatures and prevents night-time cooling. Impermeable surfaces such as concrete and asphalt also prevent water from being absorbed by the landscape and increases the risk of flash flooding, erosion and water pollution.

Enhancing our living infrastructure helps to reduce these effects and provides a wide range of economic, health and environmental benefits to our community.

A graphic listing the benefits of living infrastructure above a cartoon image of elements of the urban environment such as buildings, people, trees and transport. Doted lines connect each benefit to a relevant image.  The environmental benefits listed are reduce stormwater runoff, provides biodiversity and habitat for wildlife, provides oxygen, stores carbon, air pollution removal, and reduces urban heat.  The social and health benefits listed are improves health and liveability, access to shade, provides amenity and aesthetic, and access to nature.  The economic benefits listed are cost effective cooling measures, and reduce energy costs.

Actions and targets

The Plan identifies fifteen actions, including measures to

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