The Sustainable Landscape Company is contributing to the delivery of The Cape – a zero emissions housing community in Cape Paterson, bursting with thriving wildlife and urban biodiversity.
The Cape estate overlooks Bass Strait near Phillip Island and is rapidly transforming a degraded former cattle station into thriving habitat site for residents as well as flora and fauna. A growing number of carbon neutral, solar powered, energy efficient homes are being built across the 230 dwelling estate, while the landscape team is simultaneously taking cleared paddocks previously covered in pasture grass and weeds, and creating wetland, habitat corridors and wild zones. A range of habitats are being designed and constructed, followed by planting programs that are installing hundreds of thousands of biodiverse coastal plants. The result is a rapid increase in wildlife numbers and diversity being recorded on the site in the past three years, with more than 95 species of birds recorded on site to date, as well a dramatic increase in the frog population, reptiles, insect diversity and an increase in observation of mammals on site including kangaroos, wombats, echidnas, microbats and swamp antechinus.
The Cape is well known for setting a national benchmark for sustainable energy efficient housing, with homes averaging over 8 star energy efficiency coupled with solar power and energy efficient fitout, a national first, and is the home of Victoria’s first 10 star home. A recent RMIT/Renew study showed that the homes are using 88% less energy than a state average dual fuel home. Establishing an energy positive, operationally carbon neutral estate underscores the Cape’s leadership in taking positive action on climate change which is a major threat to global biodiversity.
Working with The Cape, TSLC has designed and built the estate landscape including a shared path network connecting formalised parks, a community garden, and play spaces with informal sheltered viewing points and rest stops within the wetland and habitat corridors. Other biodiversity-focused initiatives include:
The usual image of a housing project is bulldozers clearing remnant vegetation followed by asphalt, concrete, lawns and suburbia, followed by the decline of nature in that area. The Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design approach is showing that good design, science, clever planting and site management can create the conditions for the growth of biodiversity on degraded sites in housing estates. Best of all, the residents have embraced it – creating habitat and introducing nature back into our urban form is beneficial for people’s wellbeing and mental health.
Going for an evening walk and watching parrots and microbats feeding on wetlands, or seeing echidnas gamboling across front yards and kangaroos lazing in the parks is attracting nature-loving residents and giving children the opportunity to delight in our natural world. We are delighted to see this site rebound with nature moving in alongside our residents, and this unique wildlife friendly approach is proving up a model for how housing estates and communities to show that some of the investment in housing estates can also create space and habitat for wildlife including species that are increasingly under pressure from urbanisation, habitat fragmentation and climate change.
Thanks to resident of The Cape, David Hartney, for the amazing images of animals onsite at the estate.
All other photos of landscape are credited to Will Hamilton-Coates, 2020.