The concept design for the redevelopment of a former paper mill in Alphington, Melbourne, featured medium density housing with generous streetscapes in an exclusive inner-city environment.  Construction commenced with stripping of topsoil and removal off-site leaving the remnant tertiary basalt clay subsoil as the palette on which the green infrastructure would be developed.

Spatial constraints and location of services across the site impacted on tree root volumes and tree pit widths.  These challenges involved extensive research into tree species selection, appropriate soil volumes, suitable soil specifications, and assessment of longevity and stability of trees.

It highlighted the importance of positive collaboration with Council, developers and technical experts to agree upon solutions, and underlined yet again, the importance of early professional assessment of soil conditions to ensure compatibility of design intent with achievable outcomes.

Declan McDonald

Declan has over 30 years experience in agricultural, horticultural, recreational and amenity soil management.  In May 2014 he opened an office for SESL in Victoria.

He holds a B.Sc in Urban Horticulture (UTS) and a Master of Sustainable Agriculture (University of Sydney).  He also holds Graduate Certificates in Climate Change (University of Melbourne) and Leisure Management (UTS) and an Associate Diploma in Horticulture (Nursery Mgt.).

He has a strong background in Urban Horticulture, Agricultural Production and Natural Resource Management through his work in Private Enterprise, State and Local Governments, and Catchment Management Authorities.

He has authored / co-authored a number of publications aimed at improving understanding and management of soil as a living realm.

In his current position of Senior Soil Scientist with SESL Australia he is responsible for high level technical input for design of tree soils, contaminated land assessment, major redevelopment work aimed at re-using site soils, and urban renewal projects including green walls and rooftop gardens, all while continuing to follow his passion for sustainable management of our soil resources.