The effects of land tenure and land use on the urban forest structure and composition of Melbourne
Dobbs, C and Kendal, D and Nitschke, C, The effects of land tenure and land use on the urban forest structure and composition of Melbourne, Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 12, (4) pp. 417-425. ISSN 1618-8667 (2013) [Refereed Article]
The urban forest provides valuable ecosystem services for enhancing human well-being. Its structure and composition determine the quantity and quality of these services. There has been little research on the heterogeneity in structure and composition of urban forests in the Australasian region, especially in the centre of a highly dynamic and rapidly urbanizing city. This paper quantifies the structure and the composition of the urban forest of Melbourne, Australia's city centre. The effects of land tenure and land use on the heterogeneity of canopy cover, tree density and canopy size were explored. Species and family composition by land use, land ownership and street type were also analysed using the Shannon–Wiener and Jaccard similarity indices. Most of the canopy cover in the city centre is located on public land and is unevenly distributed across the municipality. The mean canopy cover (12.3%) is similar to that found for whole city studies around the world, which often include peri-urban forests. Similarly to other cities, structure varied across different land uses, and tree size, density and cover varied with land tenure and street type. The diversity index shows that the urban forest is rich in species (H′ = 2.9) and is dominated by native species. Improving the distribution, and increasing tree cover and variety of species will result in a more resilient urban centre, able to provide multiple ecosystem services to their residents and its large population of visitors and workers. The study of the urban centre provides further understanding of compact city morphologies, and allows inter-city comparison independent of the size.