The $43.5 million public domain improvements to Sydney’s George Street pedestrian boulevard, inspired by Jan Gehl’s vision, have provided us with 9,000 square metres of new car-free space for walking, shopping, dining, and experiencing the city.
Here, nestled between two city towers, Barlow Street has been transformed with a micro forest made up of 30 species belonging to the critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub and Coastal Swamp Forests that once covered the inner and eastern parts of the city.
Barlow Street Forest was planned to be temporary – one of four art projects installed during Covid to reimage and reclaim underused public spaces and create jobs for artists; and to bring people back to the city to support businesses and boost the economy.
But we received so many requests for this parcel of biodiversity to be made permanent, that the City worked with Dirt Witches on a design for a forest that we will permanently maintain.
The City has planted more than 16,000 street trees since I became Mayor in 2004, and we are planting thousands more with targets to increase canopy cover by 50 per cent by 2030, and 75 per cent by 2050.
Living green artworks like the Barlow Street Forest are an important part of a sustainable and culturally vibrant city.