The purpose of the Living Lab at Hawkesbury is to subject a selection of common landscape trees and shrubs to Richmond’s often-harsh climate conditions. According to the Australian National University’s Climate Visualisations, Richmond average temperatures in December through to February are now 5° Celsius above long-term averages. Residents in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region have sweltered through some extremes of heat in recent years with the highest temperature on record of 46.3° Celsius recorded at Hawkesbury in January 2018.
You can imagine the impact this is having on newly-planted trees and shrubs.
The Living Lab at Hawkesbury aims to determine how plantings of differing structure (e.g. canopy height and density) differ in terms of the biodiversity they support. With some plots planted as tree and shrub mixes and some plots just as trees or shrubs, we can learn about how plants interact as they grow and how this influences the insects and other animals that arrive as pollinators, feeders or residents.
By replicating these same mixes of plantings at other Living Lab sites, we can compare how these same types of plants perform across a variety of locations and microclimates.
The best landscapes are diverse landscapes, so our network of Living Labs provides us with a way to evaluate the role of different climatic conditions on the performance of our selected plant species, and how plant species interact to support essential biodiversity within the urban landscape.
That helps everyone put the right plants in the right place, for a greener future.