28.10.17 GIRG PhD Researchers win Melbourne Climathon

School of Forest Ecosystem Science PhD students and combined lab groups, Waterway Ecosystem Research Group (WERG) and Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG) were the winning Green Team, sharing first place with another team, Chill Out at the Melbourne Climathon 2017 organised by the EU Centre on Shared Complex Challenges at The University of Melbourne.

The Climathon movement’s climate change hackathon is organised simultaneously in major cities around the world and took place from 27-28 October, 2017.

The participants collaborate as teams bringing together innovative solutions for today’s climate challenges. With 42 participants, Melbourne Climathon was one of the top global city hosts.

The Green Team’s winning concept was ‘Building a cool grid.’ The Green Team wants to integrate and improve existing green and water sensitive urban design solutions to build a grid of green and cool corridors that connect existing safe and suitable spaces during heatwaves.

The Chill Out team’s concept was more technically focused with plans to develop a website and complementing app on ‘Where do you meet during the heat?’.

Climate KIC has now invited the two winning teams to merge their solutions into an idea or ideas that could be developed further during Climate-KIC’s 2018 launchpad program, with the possibility for six team members to win the national finals and take their idea to Europe. Alternatively, six team members will also have the opportunity to attend the Victorian Sustainability Awards 2018.

From left to right: Desmond Ofosu Anim (WERG), Congying Li (WERG), Jasmine Thom (WERG & GIRG), Joerg Werdin (GIRG), Andrea Piannella (GIRG) and Mariana Dias Baptista (GIRG)

22.02.17 Claire Farrell, the coordinator of the green roofs and walls postgraduate qualification, presented at a special edition of Canopy, the City of Melbourne’s Green Infrastructure Industry Forum on the basics of green roofs at the Sustainable Living Festival.

11.16 Made Possible by Melbourne is a free exhibition of world-changing research around Melbourne’s CBD, with corresponding stories on Pursuit. SEFS researchers Claire Farrell and Nick Williams work on Growing Greener Cities features in the 14 stories.  To read the pursuit story click here.

17.11.16 A joint project between The City of Melbourne and the University of Melbourne’s Dave Kendall and Jess Bauman from GIRG, the Future Urban Forest Reportwas publicly released today which  advises which trees to plant to better prepare for climate change.

11.16– Nick Williams (SEFS) discussed the use of green roofs to conserve rare plants  in New Scientist and how  green infrastructure can  provide valuable services that help make our cities more liveable in  The pursuit.

15.11.16- The final event on the 125 calendar, the seminar – Where people, landscapes and biodiversity collide was held on Tuesday evening. It was another successful event with a crowd of 85 people, including a number of Alumni and participants from the City of Melbourne’s Green infrastructure Industry Forum (Canopy) who partnered with GIRG for the event. The seminar focused on the challenges and possibilities of biodiversity in our cities tackling issues of plant blindness, biodiversity on green roofs to using urban gardening as a tool for conserving agro-biodiversity.

11.10.17 Urban Plantings as Living Laboratories for Climate Change seminar attracted over 120 registrations. Part of the Burnley 125 series, this seminar focused on GIRG research as well as the collaborative research work with City of Melbourne in creating resilient and diverse urban forests and plant communities for future climates.

10.16 Julianna Rozek’s article about greening city walls and facades with plants is featured inLateral, a magazine that explores relationship between science and society.

23.09.16 Congratulations to Caragh Threlfall and Nick Williams for their contributions in the collaborative project Biodiversity in Melbourne’s East which has been listed as a finalist in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards in the Local Government category. Local councils, researchers, agencies and government are trialing a framework for monitoring of biodiversity

12.09.16 The Green Infrastructure Research Group partnering with City of Melbourne

GIRG members and students have planted sites at Royal Park and Birrarung Marr as part of the Woody Meadows Project, an innovative research project,  funded by the City of Melbourne and partnering with the University of Melbourne and the University of Sheffield. Inspired by low maintenance, but visually spectacular flowering meadows that are becoming increasingly common in public landscapes in the United Kingdom, this project explores the use of Australian shrubs to achieve a similar effect. A total of 21 different shrubs have been selected for use and evaluated against environmental, ornamental, functional and maintenance criteria with the aim to create a captivating display with extended seasonal interest. The project was profiled in the The Age  and online at the  ABC.

20.07.2016 Managing for resilient landscapes

GIRG hosted a one day symposium in conjunction with the Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand and Parks Leisure Australia for professionals on urban landscape management. The successful industry event attracted 120 attendees to the campus, who listened to GIRG members translate research on creating resilient and diverse urban forest and plant communities for future climates and research and visited experimental sites and research facilities on Campus.

17.05.2016 and 27.01.2016 GIRG played host to two Nursery and Garden Industry of Victoria sponsored events providing an opportunity to showcase the green infrastructure research on Campus to a wide and varied audience. These types of events help consolidate our industry partnerships.

04.2016 Green Infrastructure research tourswere conducted at the Burnley Festival and Alumni day. Many interested visitors, from a crowd of 1000, attended the tours, learning about the research work into green roof, biodiversity and raingardens.

22.02.2016 A number of GIRG members present at the 2nd International Conference on urban tree diversity that was held in Melbourne. Steven Livesley from GIRG was one of the main organizers along with City of Melbourne, Arboriculture Australia and International Society of Arboriculture.

21.11.2014 Design and Research Award Winners 2014

Congratulations to the Green Infrastructure Research team (GIRG), John Rayner, Sue Murphy and Adrian Marshall, for taking out three of the prizes in the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Victorian State Awards on Friday 21st of November 2014 for contributions to landscape architecture and urban design, research and communications.

The Burnley Demonstration Green Roof, a collaboration between the design practice HASSELL and GIRG won the major design award of the evening. In announcing the award, the judges highlighted the strikingly bold landscape that immediately draws the visitor along a superimposed walkway, revealing the diverse array of plant communities, corresponding soil profiles, seating places and teaching nodes.

The Growing Green Guide, a multi-stakeholder project co-authored by John Rayner and Dr Sue Murphy, won the Research and Communication Award. Becoming a valuable reference for landscape architects and related built environment professionals, the guide includes extensive technical details and provides a comprehensive resource to support green infrastructure design and construction.

Adrian Marshall won one of the top awards, the AILA Victoria’s President’s Award, for his work developing ‘Start with the Grasslands’ for the Victorian National Parks Association. His work is a rigorous new model of best practice for preserving what is Australia’s most endangered ecosystem. It focuses on the urban context of grassland remnants, and synthesises ecological research, environmental psychology, history, social studies and landscape architecture.

03.09.2014 AWARD- Best Presentation for Kate Lee

Many congratulations to Kate Lee, who has won the best presentation at the International Congress on Applied Psychology for a Division 4 PhD student (Environmental Psychology). Kate’s presentation was entitled Restorative views of city green roofs boost attention, and influence recovery, mood and performance. The ICAP is a large international meeting held every four years.  This year it was held in Paris, with 4500 delegates from over 100 countries attending.

The jury was unanimous in awarding Kate this prize, stating “Kate’s research was seen as novel and having a potential to make a significant contribution to the existing literature. In her presentation, Kate kept her audience engaged. She presented original work on how viewing nature, and particularly green roofs, can improve concentration, mood and influences productivity. The presentation generated a very lively discussion.”

Kate is supervised by Kath Williams, Nick Williams and Leisa Sargent (Marketing and Management) and the paper drew on a collaboration with Katherine Johnson from Psych Sciences.  Well done Kate!

02.06.2014 International Conference on Urban Tree Diversity

Ruzana Sanusi, Steve Livesley, Denise Johnstone and Peter May will talk about “Intermediate and dense deciduous canopies: microclimate benefits to pedestrians” at the next International Conference on Urban Tree Diversity, 16-18 June, Alnarp, Sweden.

13.05.2014 European Forum on Urban Forestry conference

Ruzana Sanusi, together with Denise Johnstone, Stephen Livesley and Peter May will present at the next European Forum on Urban Foresty (3-7 June, Lausanne, Switzerland) a talk titled “Trees and microclimate – Take a walk on the shady side of the street”

13.05.2014 IALE UK conference

Alessandro Ossola will talk about how “Fine-scale heterogeneity of urban landscapes affects soil hydrological processes and services” at the IALE UK 2014: Urban Landscape Ecology: Science, Policy and Practice (Urban Patches and Heterogeneity session), held from 1st to 3rd September 2014 at King’s College in London, UK.

09.05.2014  #C14 Hack and BiodiversityOnCampus

Alessandro Ossola led an interdiscliplinary team of young students in the #C14 Hack competition 2014.

The team goal was to set up a viable project to promote biodiversity at the Parkville Campus of the University of Melbourne to be presented to the University leaders.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

21.04.2014  “A Low Carbon City Agenda”

GIRG will host a seminar titled “A Low Carbon City Agenda“, spoken by Martin Brennan, CEO and Regional Director of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – OCEANIA. The seminar will be held on Thursday 15th May, 3PM, room MB10, ground floor, University of Melbourne, Burnley Campus.


21.04.2014 #C14 Hack and BiodiversityOnCampus

#C14Hack is an eco-innovation workshop designed to develop projects that reduce environmental impact at the University of Melbourne. Ideators, Innovators and Inventors from across the university will come together the 8th and 9th May developing novel solutions that will address five environmental challenges on campus (solid waste, organic waste, biodiversity, energy efficiency, policy development).

More info and enrollment here

06.04.2014 “Nature” Community Choice for Urban Birds and Plants

Nick Williams’ recent paper “A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers” published in Proceedings Royal Society B has been profiled in the prestigious journal Nature as the Community Choice paper.

Read more at:


29.03.2014 CALL FOR PAPERS for consideration in an ‘Urban Forest and Ecosystem Services’ Special Section of JEQ.

Dr Steve Livesley (GIRG, Australia), Dr Carlo Calfapietra (National Research Council, ITA) and Dr Greg McPherson (USDA Forest Service, USA) invite researchers to submit suitable abstracts (>300 words) for consideration in a Special Section of the Journal of Environmental Quality (IF = 2.3). Deadline for abstracts is 30 July 2014….read more here.

28.03.2014 Green Roof display at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show!

After months of plotting, planning and potting a shipping container adorned with a showy green roof was assembled and put on grand display at Melbourne City Square to help kick-off the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Read more here!

25.03.2014 Green thumbs emphasise the benefits of roof-top gardens 

Researchers from the university’s Burnley campus have been looking at what flora, typical of natural rocky outcrops, is the best to plant on the top of buildings in Australian cities.

Claire Farrell explores this topic in an interview to ABC NEWS.

20.03.2014 Green roofs and walls – a growth area in urban design  

“As the demand for greener and cooler cities increases, new “green infrastructure”  technologies, such as green roofs and walls, are coming to the fore. But what are they?”

John Rayner explores this topic in the last issue of  The Conversation.

17.03.2014 Planting outside the box

A new article in “The Age” explores the “living city” green container which will be presented at the next Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show at Carlton Gardens later this month.

Here the full article

03.03.2014 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

The Green Infrastructure Research Group in partnership with City of Melbourne, Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Victoria will be present with a garden display at the next Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show held from 26th to 30th March at Carlton Gardens.  The design features a modified shipping container with multiple ‘green infrastructure’ elements, including a modular green roof, green facades and living                                            walls, an ‘urban forest’ and vegetable rain garden.

More info and bookings here.

25.02. 2014 PAPER – People’s preference for biodiverse green roofs

Green roofs provide various benefits within urban landscapes. Building thermal regulation, stormwater mitigation and resources for the local biodiversity are just some major benefits offered by living roofs. And yes, green roofs are aesthetically pleasant offering unexpected bits of nature in our grey cities. Nevertheless, people’s preferences for plant species and assemblages is still relatively unclear. What level of plant diversity is preferred? Do people favor particular plant traits (life form, colour, dimension, etc)?

A new research recently published in Landscape and Urban Planning is addressing this topic. Download here.

Lee, K.E., Williams, K.J.H., Sargent, L.D., Farrell, C., & Williams, N.S. (2014). Living roof preference is influenced by plant characteristics and diversity. Landscape and Urban Planning, 122, 152-159.

21.02.2014 PAPER – Wood decay and chlorophyll florescence measurements

Can bark and leaf chlorophyll be used to predict wood decay and change in structural properties of trees? And what are the implications for assessing the health of urban trees? A new paper published in Annals of Botany investigate this topic on Eucalyptus saligna(Bateman’s Bay), Sydney Blue Gum,  commonly used in Australian arboriculture.

Johnstone D, Tausz M, Moore G, Nicolas M. 2014. Bark and leaf chlorophyll fluorescence are linked to wood structural changes in Eucalyptus saligna. AoB PLANTS6: plt057

19.02.2014 City of Melbourne – Greening Kensington Urban Forest Breakfast

City of Melbourne is developing the plans for the urban forest in North & West Melbourne, Docklands and Kensington. You can join the conversation online or attend the Greening Kensington Urban Forest Breakfast on Sunday 16th March 9:30am-12:30pm, Kensington Community Recreation Centre. Registration here.

12.02.2014 Nick Williams on ‘The World Today’, ABC news

Nick was interviewed by Simon Lauder on The World Today about a study recently published on the affect of urbanisation on the world’s biodiversity, that surprisingly shows the large numbers of species that survive, even when cities take over much of their habitat. The researchers looked at more than 100 cities around the world, including Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Aronson, MFJ, FA LaSorte, CH Nilon, M Katti, MA Goddard, CA Lepczyko, PS Warren, NSG Williams, S Cilliers, B Clarkson, C. Dobbs, R. Dolan, M Hedblom, S Klotz, JL Kooijamns, I Kühn, I MacGregor-Fors, M McDonnell, U Mörtberg, P Pyšek, S Siebert, J Sushinsky, P Werner, and M Winter.  2014.  A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers.Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20133330.

21.02.2014 Linking urban ecology, design and management to improve biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service in cities

You are invited to join an afternoon workshop (1 pm to 5 pm) funded by CEED, hosted by School of Botany, The University of Melbourne. Room G26.

We will discuss how best to integrate multiple-discipline perspectives to improve biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in cities. All welcome to join!

20.02.2014, 10 am LAUNCH of the Growing Green Guide

Australia’s first guidelines for the construction and maintenance of green roofs, walls and facades.

John Rayner and Susan Murphy have been beavering away like green roof monkeys (do monkey’s beaver?). Anyway, it’s done and ready to cut a swathe through the barriers to green infrastructure uptake and integration!

Where? – Burnley campus, Main Building.

10.02.2014 – Our cities need more tree and water, not less, to stay livable

In order to promote more livable and resilient cities we have to invest in designing and managing “green and blue” cities, where tree and water components are promoted and not decreased. Nickolas Williams, Andrew Coutts and Steve Livesley debate on this topic in the last interview for The Conversation.

Read the full article in here.

1-7 Feb 2014– GIRG-WERG writing retreat Mt Hotham

Writing retreat

This first week of February in 2014 added a new twist to the routines of GIRG and WERG members who opted to participate in a writing retreat organized by Steve Livesley held at Mt. Hotham. Much was accomplished by all participants from submitting papers that had been needing finishing touches and outlining the next manuscript, to generating a strategy to get more funding and an exchange of general knowledge gained through simple cross discipline conversations. Please click to get the scoop!

02.2014 Thermal properties of green facades review paper

A critical review on thermal properties of green facades and green walls has been published in the last issue of Ecological Engineering – Hunter, A.M., Williams, N.S.G., Rayner, J.P., Hes, D., Livesley, S.J., 2014. Quantifying the thermal performance of green facades: A critical review. Ecological Engineering 63:102-113.

02.2014 GIRG lab meetings                                                         

In the first semester lab meeting are scheduled on alternate Thursdays.  We will host some special talk as well.

Monday 31st March we will be joined by Prof. Timothy Entwisle, Director and CEO of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, who will talk about “Curing plant blindness and illiteracy” and the future role of Botanic Gardens in plant conservation.

Thursday 15th May Martin Brennan, CEO of ICLEI Oceania, will talk about the role of local governments in urban sustainability with particular reference to the Australian situation.