Global Exchanges – Sweden and China

Amy Hahs joins the China-Australia Young Scientist Exchange Program

Dr Amy Hahs recently visited China as one of 16 Australian Scientists selected to participate in the 2019 Australia-China Young Scientist Exchange Program (YSEP). The Program is funded by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

The trip included a 10-day individual study tour hosted by Prof. Weiqi Zhou at the State Key Laboratory for Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Prof. Jun Yang, Professor of Ecology at the Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University. During this time, Amy discussed current research projects and identified areas for future collaborations, with a plan to build towards joint grant opportunities and student exchanges. Amy met up with the other YSEP participants for a closing event in Chengdu and had the opportunity to connect with the Australian Consul-General in Chengdu and the Victorian Government’s local Trade and Investment Office.

Green Infrastructure in Scandinavia

Assoc. Prof. John Rayner has just returned from a five-month sabbatical in Sweden, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp, near Malmö. John was based in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management (LAPF) where we worked with a small team of research and teaching academics in the Urban Vegetation Group. With 1000 students on the campus, SLU Alnarp is centered within a magnificent historic park and arboretum that dates back to the 1700’s and contains around 4,000 plant specimens, a specialized teaching garden, 20-hectare landscape laboratory and a unique rehabilitation garden.

John enjoyed the daily ‘Fika’, the declining daylight, walking and running the urban parks of Malmö and lots of conversations with curious colleagues wanting to know 1) why he was there, and 2) why did he come at the worst time of the year? He ended up doing quite a bit of teaching at SLU, spoke at a conference and seminar and collaborated on research around planting design, nature-health environments and green roofs maintenance. The best part of his sojourn was interacting with the Swedes, the beautiful Skåne landscape, seeing some high-quality green infrastructure and, of course, the occasional Pepparkakor or Kanelbullar with a strong flat white! Perhaps the most difficult part was being away while back here the continent was on fire and subsequent discussions with Swedish colleagues around the absurdity of having a government in Australia that denies climate-change!

Two aspects of green roofs in Sweden that John observed have relevance to work in the GIRG. Staff at SLU Alnarp have just gained a three-year grant to investigate green roofs management, more specifically the effects of aging and maintenance on green roof properties and functions. While more green roofs are being built across Scandinavia, maintenance is emerging as a real challenge to both landscape architects and facility managers. Some of this relates to maintaining the aesthetics or visual properties of green roofs, but increasingly it also relates to sustaining the ‘ecosystem service’ functions that many green roofs are designed to provide. Another interesting aspect of working in Sweden was observing the activities of the Scandinavian Green Roofs Institute (SGRI). Based at Augustenborg, a suburb of Malmö, the SGRI is a national industry organisation that supports green roofs research and development, but also delivers short course programs, fee-for service training and consultation services; many provided in partnership with staff from Universities, including SLU Alnarp.

Swedish green roof
Green roofs are the focus of extensive research and teaching in Sweden
Swedish forest in fog
John Rayner explored Sweden’s natural landscapes during his sabbatical.