Poorer Aussie suburbs will suffer more in the heat, study finds

Photo by Bart Jaillet on Unsplash

Australia is shaping up for a scorcher of a summer, and how much you suffer could come down to where you’re living. According to RMIT University, “poor and disadvantaged Australian suburbs” may face temperatures up to 10 degrees hotter than wealthier areas.

No, it’s not to do with the amount on your energy bill or how stingy you are with the air-conditioning. It’s all to do with how much greenery surrounds your house. 

Over the past three years, metropolitan areas around Australia have lost enough vegetation to fill the entire city of Brisbane. 

According to the Where Should All the Trees Go report produced by CSIRO Data 61 and the University of Western Australia, this could see some areas starting to “act like heat sponges” due to the new lack of canopy coverage.

Read more: The perfect gardening hack is coming to Australia 

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Greater Brisbane and Greater Hobart are faring pretty well, with the areas competing for the highest percentage of tree and shrub canopy cover compared to other parts of the country. 

Adelaide and Greater Melbourne have the least amount of tree and shrub canopy cover, which puts them at risk of those 10-degree jumps.

Home ownership also plays a part in the study; on average, people who rent and move on a semi-regular basis are less likely to try and cultivate a garden, since they’re not going to be around to reap the rewards.

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People who have put down more permanent roots, so to speak, are more likely to take up gardening, thereby increasing the amount of tree and shrub canopy cover. A great backyard doesn’t seem to be part of the Australian property dream these days, however, with many preferring to build bigger houses and smaller gardens. 

Those living in Melbourne and Sydney would be better off if they lived closer to national parks, which—surprise, surprise—seem to be restricted to some of the wealthiest suburbs in those cities. Thankfully, national parks aren’t the only answer; small community gardens could help improve your local area and bring down the heat, provided you can get your local council onboard. 

Would you be interested in a community garden if it eased the heat in your suburb?