A powerful network of community, planning and health organisations have called on the Premier of NSW to protect and enhance the lungs of our iconic city in an open letter organised by Total Environment Centre.

We urge you to support this joint open letter by becoming a signatory.

The joint letter urges better protection of green spaces and trees from development and raises serious concerns about the proposed Biodiversity Offsets Scheme that will lead to the widespread clearing of bushland in the Greater Sydney area in return for developers’ cash payments.

"People are right to be alarmed about development projects which destroy urban breathing space," said TEC's director Jeff Angel. "The extremely negative impacts on healthy lifestyles and urban heat can't be ignored. The science is in. We need trees and green spaces for healthy citizens. As Sydney grows, bigger parks and more trees are a priority."

"With Sydney’s population projected to grow to 6.4 million by 2036, access to safe, convenient and enjoyable parks, sporting facilities and other open space will be crucial for the liveability of our city", said Mark Tyrrell, President Australian Institute of Landscape Architects NSW.

Further, Mr Tyrrell encouraged the State Government to increase the level of investment in the green infrastructure network to allow for better health and wellbeing for people living in dense urban communities.

The National Heart Foundation’s NSW Division CEO Kerry Doyle explained: "Apart from creating beautiful and vibrant neighbourhoods, good planning can positively impact on our long-term health. A lack of physical activity is one of the risk factors contributing to the growing burden of heart disease – which remains the single leading cause of death in Australia. However, by having access to green spaces for people to exercise, socialise and for kids to play helps to make being physically active part of people's every day routine."

The TEC's SOS Green Spaces Map tracks threatened spaces in over 70 locations across Sydney with detailed information about local trees, native species, and resident action groups. The Map reveals the precious areas that are under the threat of unfettered development.




    Dear Premier

    With Sydney’s population projected to grow to 6.4 Million by 2036 and the worsening climate change-related urban heat island effect, we write to urge you to ensure that adequate levels of green space are provided to all Sydney-siders and Sydney’s unique bushland and wildlife is protected.

    Sydney-siders highly value access to a range of formal and informal green spaces – trees, bushland, parks and sporting fields. This is borne out in previous public surveys and the strong community reaction whenever public green space is sold-off or alienated for development.

    Extensive research, both in Australia and overseas, clearly shows that the environmental, social, spiritual and economic benefits of green spaces are irrefutable1. Green spaces cool our city, reduce energy costs, increase property values, promote healthy lifestyles, improve air and water quality, reduce net carbon emissions, prevent stormwater runoff and provide important wildlife habitat.

    Sydney's green spaces also play a key role in the health of Sydney's iconic blue spaces. For example, the revitalisation and resilience of Greater Sydney's six major river systems – Hacking, Georges, Cooks, Parramatta, Nepean and Hawkesbury, as well as Botany Bay and Sydney Harbour depends on the health and connectivity of the surrounding vegetation.

    Despite these benefits, current NSW Government policy and legislation is failing to protect Sydney’s green spaces as these are actively being depleted by clearing and alienation for grey urban and industrial infrastructure development. The Total Environment Centre’s SOS Green Spaces map highlights over 70 green spaces currently at risk of destruction2. This includes peri-urban areas undergoing rapid development and the impacts of major transport infrastructure projects such as the South East Light Rail and WestConnex. This deteriorating situation must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

    A Plan for Growing Sydney Direction 3.2 aims 'To create a network of interlinked, multipurpose open and green spaces across Sydney' also known as the Green Grid. This concept is also supported by the work of the Greater Sydney Commission. However, specific actions, policies, legislative changes and funding are required to shift this concept from rhetoric to reality.

    As key stakeholders representing a wide range of interests and expertise about urban green spaces, we urge you to:

    • Assign responsibility for planning, implementing and monitoring Sydney’s green spaces to an independent body with the mandate, skills, funding and resources to achieve a comprehensive network of formal and informal green spaces designed to maximise benefits to Sydney-siders and protect Sydney's unique bushland and wildlife in the long-term.

    • Prevent the clearing of bushland in the Greater Sydney area unless strict like-for-like offsets can be located and protected in perpetuity within the close vicinity of the bushland being cleared (note: under the Government’s current draft Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, the proposed Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will lead to widespread clearing of Sydney’s remnant bushland, including threatened species habitat, particularly in Western Sydney).

    • Prevent the alienation of community and Crown land, as well as removal of the tree canopy, from Sydney’s green space network.

    Sydney's green spaces are a vital component of its liveability and resilience as a city. Your positive action in protecting and enhancing our green spaces would strengthen your leadership in Australia’s much-loved and admired iconic first city, for current and future generations.

    We, the sixteen signatories to this open letter look forward to an opportunity to discuss this important issue further with you.

    Yours sincerely,

    Jeff Angel et. al.

    Executive Director
    Total Environment Centre

    Level 1, 99 Devonshire Street
    Surry Hills, NSW 2010

    1 For a summary of key research relating to the benefits of urban green spaces, see pp 19-25 in the attached Environment Panel Advisory Paper produced for the Greater Sydney Commission

    2 Total Environment Centre's SOS Green Spaces Map,


    1. Total Environment Centre
    2. Dr Peter Sainsbury, Public Health Physician
    3. Institute for Sustainable Futures
    4. Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
    5. Keep Sydney Beautiful
    6. Better Planning Network
    7. National Heart Foundation – NSW Division
    8. Columban Mission Institute
    9. National Parks Association of NSW
    10. Cooks River Alliance
    11. National Trust
    12. Faith Ecology Network
    13. Nature Conservation Council of NSW
    14. NSW Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service
    15. Stormwater NSW
    16. Sydney Wildlife

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