Shade and UV protection

Why is shade important?

Good-quality shade can reduce UV exposure by up to 75%1. When used in conjunction with other forms of sun protection, such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, shade is one of the best ways to protect oursleves from the sun and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Well-designed shade provides protection from direct UV from the sun, as well as indirect UV from reflective surfaces like water, sand and snow.  Shade creates an outdoor space that is comfortable to use all year round and gives added protection from heat, rain and wind.

There is evidence that shade promotes health and wellbeing, encourages socially cohesive communities, and has other environmental and economic benefits.2 

Read more about the co-benefits of shade.

Shade resource for Council

Shade resource for Council

Make shade a planning priority in your Local Government Area.

We've developed this example text for Council's to use when reviewing their Local Strategic Planning Statement: Shade provision: Suggested text for inclusion in Local Strategic Planning Statements.

Natural and built shade for UV protection

A combination of natural and built shade provides the best protection from UV.

Shade from trees or tall shrubs is attractive and has other benefits for the environment, health and wellbeing. Choose trees with a canopy that is dense and closer to the ground to provide the best protection from direct UV. The larger the canopy, the greater protection from both direct and indirect UV.

Find out what local species of tree to plant for your shade project: 5 Million Trees tree selector 

A combination of natural and built shade provides the best protection from UV.

Built shade like shade sails, awnings and pergolas can be stand-alone, added onto existing buildings or built next to natural shade. Unlike some forms of natural shade, built shade provides a source of shade all year round. Well-designed built shade uses materials which have a UV Protection Factor (UPF) of 20 or more.3

The Cancer Institute NSW has developed a set of case study examples of well-designed built shade. Read the case studies: How schools, councils, community groups and sporting organisations created shade.

How to design quality shade for UV protection

Cancer Council NSW Guidelines to Shade is a practical tool for individuals, organisations and councils to increase availability of quality shade in a range of settings, such as playgrounds, pools, sporting venues, beaches, parks, schools, childcare centres and backyards.

A shade audit is an important element of designing good quality shade as it helps identify what is needed for people using the space. A good place to start is with a visual shade audit: Cancer Council NSW Guidelines to Shade and Cancer Council Victoria SunSmart Shade Comparison Check.

NSW Shade Working Group

NSW Shade Working Group

The Shade Working Group of the NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy aims to improve access to adequate shade in NSW through a collaborative stakeholder approach.

A key focus of the group is to reinforce the importance of good quality and well planned shade to reduce exposure to UV for skin cancer prevention.

Membership of the Shade Working Group includes:

  • Cancer Council NSW (Chair)
  • Cancer Institute NSW
  • UNSW City Futures Research Centre
  • An independent Social Impact Planner
  • Australian Institute of Landscape Architects 


  1.  Parsons, P., Neale, R., Wolski, P. & Green, A. 1998, ‘The shady side of solar protection’, Medical Journal of Australia, 168: 327-330.
  2. Davern, M., Farrar, A., Kendal, D., and Giles-Corti, B. 2016. Quality Green Space Supporting Health, Wellbeing and Biodiversity: A Literature Review. Report prepared for the Heart Foundation, SA Health, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Office for Recreation and Sport, and Local Government Association (SA). University of Melbourne: Victoria. Available from: view_-_FINAL_website.pdf
  3. Parisi A.V. and Turnbull D.J. 2014. Shade provision for UV minimisation: A review. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 90: 479-490.