Blue-Green Grid Vision & Implementation Strategy

The Blue-Green Grid Vision and Implementation Strategy was released in December 2023. This visionary project aims to protect and expand an expansive network of interconnected green and blue spaces throughout Sydney. As Sydney's population grows and urban development intensifies, the Blue-Green Grid serves as a vital counterbalance, preserving native bushland and protecting endangered species, such as the local koala populations on the city’s outskirts.

While Sydney has seen various green space initiatives over the years, none have fully addressed the pressing demands of our city's future. Here, we outline a comprehensive and actionable implementation strategy to not only expand, but also safeguard these invaluable ecological and recreational assets for generations to come.

Dive deeper into the details of our Blue-Green Grid plans, and discover how we're working to bring this ambitious vision to life. If you wish to take action, we are calling upon the community to send a message to the NSW Premier and the Minister for Planning. You can take action today.

Attributes and Locations of the Blue-Green Grid

The challenge is to provide an interconnected landscape with areas that are wide enough, connect with other lines and paths as a web across the city, and are characterised by either their Green, Open and/or Bushland attributes. The qualities of this Blue-Green Grid changes in requirements as it moves from rural to peri-urban to urban. We consider green roofs, green walls and outdoor structures poor substitutes and do not include them in our Blue-Green Grid.

Benefits of the Blue-Green Grid

The benefits of the Blue-Green Grid for health, urban cooling, climate and biodiversity are enormous. 

a table explaining the benefits of the blue-green grid vision for Sydney's open spaces

Steps required for effective implementation to grow and defend Sydney’s Blue-Green Grid

1. Blue-Green Grid Coordination Committee to oversee and embed implementation

This committee should report to the Ministers for Planning, Public Spaces and Environment and to the community:

An independent voice outside of NSW Planning is essential, with six monthly public reports on loss and gain in green spaces, grid connections, and tree canopy.

2. Institutions that line the landscape must be integral to the Blue-Green Grid

For example Transport NSW needs to provide parallel green links along major roads, so wildlife crossings and active transport are implemented systematically.

3. Koala & Whale Blue-Green Belt 

a. Our vision includes a Sydney Koala Whale Circuit: Signatory green infrastructure to connect Cumberland Plain and Hawkesbury region lands, Nepean and Georges Rivers to the Coastal Whale Walk, thus completing the world's first city circumnavigation walk.

b. Establish Sydney Koala Green Belt to protect western Sydney wildlife corridors, food bowl and water supply, and contain urban sprawl.

4. Planning Department to support fine-grain Blue-Green Grid

a. Continue acquisition strategies to support council Blue-Green Grid policy and funding tree canopy programs.

b. Ensure every precinct development adds to green space.

c. Use Housing SEPP; or a new Blue-Green Grid SEPP.

d. Prevent loss of tree canopy on private and public lands and catalogue of all parks and green spaces within Sydney.

5. Conserve existing green and open spaces

a. Do not sell or resume public open space. 

b. Do not rezone land that is open space to residential or commercial. Golf courses, in particular, are subject to intense pressure to change their zoning. Other underutilised or exclusive sporting sites must also be re-imagined. 

c. Protect the tree canopy on public and private lands. Private property has an important role to play in providing setbacks and ensuring retention of the tree canopy. Recent regulation changes to council tree preservation rules and the Rural Boundary Clearing Code (as applied in the Sydney Basin) have made tree removal easier. This trend needs to be reversed.

6. Recognise Green Spaces' monetary value in assessments

To date, little value has been placed on the green landscape in cost-benefit analysis. Total Environment Centre rejects offsets as an acceptable "remediation" tool. Rarely is sufficient nearby land available for alternative green space (and adequate for increasing populations); and young trees are no substitute for lost mature trees. 

Read the full vision and implementation strategy here

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