The climate is changing, and like us, plants are having to adapt to survive. Some are coping with the increased heat and dryness by evolving to meet these new conditions, others are migrating to more suitable climates, and some are simply unable to weather the weather.
- So what does that mean for our backyards and gardens?
- And what should we be looking for at the nursery and why?
According to Gregory Moore, doctor of botany at the University of Melbourne, all ecosystems, including our backyards and urban forests, will be affected by climate change.
“In Australia the rises in temperature are likely to be in the order of four degrees Celsius,” Moore says, “and the decreases in rainfall in places like Victoria will be in the vicinity of 10-15 per cent.
“Urban forests will experience increased temperatures, changed, often lower rainfall, greater storm intensities and droughts.”
40 per cent of trees lining the streets in parts of Sydney, 32 per cent in Melbourne and 85 per cent in Darwin will be vulnerable if current carbon emissions continue.
Moore highlights that while these changes will not be uniform across the country, it means that favoured environments of certain plants are becoming less hospitable.
One study from 2016 investigated the vulnerability of the City of Melbourne’s current tree stock. It found that 19 per cent of tree species planted were already vulnerable to climate change, and that as many as 35 per cent could become vulnerable by 2040 and 62 per cent by 2090.
Another 2017 study of 1.5 million trees in 29 council areas across Australia echoed this sentiment. It revealed that “nearly one in four trees in urban centres will be at high risk of dieback,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald. This includes wilting, browning of leaves and dead branches as a result of climate change.
Around 40 per cent of trees lining the streets in parts of Sydney, 32 per cent in Melbourne and 85 per cent in Darwin will be vulnerable if current carbon emissions continue.