If you drive down Queen Street West in Hastings, adjacent to Countdown, you’ll see three newly-planted trees on the supermarket’s carpark boundary.
These trees are the result of persistence from retired architect, regional planner and environmental activist Walter Breustedt.
Author of local brochure More Urban Green…Less Sealed Surfaces, Walter approached Countdown Head Office in Auckland and was able to comment on the landscape plan for the Hasting supermarket.
“I suggested more trees there and over there, and there,” he points as he and I stand in the carpark.
“I suppose three trees is a start, “ he admits. “They will help provide shading and reduce the cooling of the asphalt, but there should be more.”
Walter, with a wealth of knowledge and expertise behind him from working on big environmental projects in Germany, wants to raise awareness about the importance of trees in our cities. “They can significantly reduce the heating of our inner city environment.”
As well as Countdown, he has his sights on other large carparks in Hastings. And he is using his 12-page brochure Urban Green to raise awareness and perception in Hawke’s Bay generally.
Urban Green was put together early this year after Walter was one of the successful recipients of a Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay Grant. The brochure aims to educate and share knowledge about greening urban spaces.
Walter says we feel the impact of climate change in our cities, particularly in summer when temperatures at daytime reach above 30°C and do not cool down at night because the heat is retained in concrete and asphalt.
“Plants are natural air conditioners,” he says. “They provide shade and in the right locations they can reduce the cooling load of buildings. Plants evaporate moisture which has an additional cooling effect.”
The most common examples of what is termed ‘Urban Greening’ is planting trees, using grass and ground covers in place of or in conjunction with sealed surfaces, and more recently in New Zealand, the installation of living walls.
Urban Green also absorbs CO2 and “we shouldn’t forget that green absorbs noise, can filter dust, and makes our cities beautiful,” says Walter.
Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay General Manager, Debbie Monahan, says that as human populations become increasingly concentrated in towns and cities, it is more important than ever to green up our urban areas. This will help to create ‘green corridors’ whereby birds, insects and animals can move, helping to ensure the future of these ecosystems and fight against biodiversity loss.
Hastings District Council supports Walter’s ideas in principle and say the Urban Green concept fits within the Long-Term Plan for the council.
Ann Redstone, Heretaunga Ward Councillor says she has met with Walter on several occasions in her capacity as Chair of Hastings District Council’s Eco-District Committee, to talk about his concerns around too many sealed surfaces and the negative environmental impacts causing higher temperatures and pressures on the stormwater infrastructure.
She says More Urban Green…Less Sealed Surfaces is a very good educational tool which could assist in initiating positive changes across the building sector.
Regardless, Walter says he won’t give up trying to change people’s awareness about greening urban spaces.
“‘Clean and Green’ should not only be a slogan to attract tourists, it should be green reality in our cities.”
More Urban Green…Less Sealed Surfaces brochure can be found on the Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay website’s Resources page www.biodiversityhb.org