Higher resolution imagery is needed for mapping vegetation cover in urban areas towards more clearer insights. We therefore decided to use the readily available vegetation cover product provided by Geoscience Australia to answer our question and quantify the ‘Greeness’ for all suburbs in Australia. At 25 meter spatial resolution, cover of all plant materials are measured over the year of 2020 at 16 day intervals, and the annual median value is used in our calculation. This means that the measure does not split out layers of vegetation, and it doesn’t measure the quality of vegetation. What it does do via our Urban Greening Platform is provide a first insight into a simple question, with the intention to provide easy access to the user about the status of their environment.

OPO Dashboard measuring vegetation cover or the year 2020

Fig 2: Vegetation Cover over the City of Melbourne: Click to Enlarge | 100m Resolution, 25m Resolution, 10m Resolution

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It provides a first insight into a simple question, with the intention to provide easy access to the user about the status of their environment.

This relationship with our local surrounds can now be quickly underpinned with data provide by satellite. At OPO, we can do even better with the resolution, clarity and insights for city planning purposes. Our Urban Greening Platform will allow you to go beyond our initial question, to access an ordering dashboard for 30m, 10m and sub 1m decision ready data products. These products we call 'Analysis Packs' will help you map vegetation at high resolution for time series insights across your selected area of interest, and time period. This will give you more detailed data, and allow you to compare vegetation cover and health from season to season, underpinning city planning decisions across policy, reporting, planning and design.


For our high-resolution products which give you key urban greening insights, visit our Urban Greening Platform below.

While this dataset gives a reasonable picture of vegetation at a continental scale, its limitation becomes apparent when zoomed in. For cities such as Melbourne (shown above), narrow paths of vegetation covers between buildings and streets are missed due to the 100 m spatial resolution. On the other hand, cover fraction is over-estimated for grassland and parks because soil and concrete surfaces are not detected.

The lawn in our own yard and our neighbours’, all contribute to creating healthy sustainable cities.

The first dataset we proposed was the Land Cover product provided by the Copernicus Global Land Service. This dataset measures proportions covered by different land cover types for each 100 meter by 100 meter area on the ground. Trees, shrubs and ground covers are summed up to provide total natural vegetated fraction. As shown in the figure above, Australia is quite ‘green’ over all. Besides the Red Center, vegetated fractions are low in the Murray Darling Basin in East Australia and the Wheatbelt region in West Australia because crops are not included in the accounting.

Fig 1: Total natural vegetation for each 100 by 100 meter area estimated by Copernicus Land Cover product

The lawn in our own yard and our neighbours’, all contribute to creating healthy sustainable cities. This includes helping to cool down the local environment in summer towards combatting the urban heat island effect. Also allowing for connections to green space which promotes important health and well-being benefits to the community. Today, it’s having easy access to the status of our urban greening metrics which is key to better understanding how our everyday actions in the built environment impact this overall climate resilience of our cities.


At OPO we answered the question How Green is Your Suburb? with satellite measured metrics. We did so for every suburb and council in Australia, and now looking to do so for other parts of the world. This metric is easily accessible on our Urban Greening Platform (beta), via our website, and will show the entire measure of vegetation cover across your suburb and council boundary for the year of 2020. Also providing a comparison to the year of 2019.

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09th September 2021

How Green is Your Suburb?

From hundreds of kilometers above where we stand, satellites are regularly mapping almost every corner of Earth. They are great at tracking natural processes at a global scale, but also offer opportunities to better understand our immediate living environment.

‘How Green Is Your Suburb?’ is a simple question many of us may have wondered. The answer, however, is not so simple, and turns out to depend on how you measure it. Quantifying public open spaces, counting tree canopy along with measuring shrub and groundcover layers in public owned land may give you one answer. However it doesn’t provide a complete picture, because private gardens also contribute to our collective green infrastructure - along with also giving us that pleasant walk in the neighbourhood!

Going to space to observe Earth can help us answer every day simple questions. Enriching our city planning with urban greening knowledge.

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Acknowledgement

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We recognise the traditional owners of the land where we work, their elders past and present and their relationship with the landscape.

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We recognise the Earth’s right to exist in its integrity, with all planetary boundaries intact and healthy so that all life on Earth can be sustained.

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