Funded under the Hort Innovation Green Cities Fund, and in partnership with Macquarie University, Western Sydney University (WSU) and the NSW Office of Heritage and the Environment, the Which Plant Where Project aims to improve future planning outcomes to achieve greater environmental sustainability in urban green spaces.
The project initially saw more than 13,000 individual plants and over 500 popularly planted tree and plant species put through rigorous testing and bioclimatic models to see how each would perform in the years 2030, 2050 and 2070.
Hort Innovation General Manager for Research and Development David Moore said, once live, the online tool would create market opportunities for growers – through identifying native and exotic species resilient to climate change and enable urban planners to make more informed decisions around which species to plant to future-proof urban landscapes.
“This project will benefit growers by ensuring that plants are better matched to appropriate climatic conditions around Australia, improving plant survival and sales,” he said.
“It will also benefit consumers and government stakeholders alike by allowing them to make more informed purchasing decisions, taking into consideration a plant or species best performance in varied urban environments based on tried and tested scientific research.
“During the glasshouse experiments we exposed half of the plants to drought by gradually decreasing soil water content over several weeks, and then all of the plants were exposed to a 6-day heat wave, reaching temperatures of up to 41 degrees,” he said.
“We then measured individual plants to record stress indicators, plant performance and wilting point to determine which species were resilient and which were vulnerable to heat and drought.
“What we found was that some of the more popular plants would not cope as climate change intensified. This means that government and growers alike will have to better consider what plants they are investing in when growing and designing green spaces to achieve optimum sustainability.”