The LIFE Urban Greening Plans project had a high number of actions, implemented by the project partners on the ground. Here you can find an overview.
One of the first steps within the project was to investigate what promising mechanisms for biodiversity enhancement are already implemented across Europe. This was done by mobilizing the internal networks of the different project partners. The aim was to get an even clearer and more concrete picture of main constraints. This also included identifying the most promising solutions and existing mechanisms to increase biodiversity in (peri-)urban areas and reinforcing links with ongoing initiatives like the EU Urban Greening Platform. To further increase exchange, a two day, face-to-face, workshop in Brussels was organised as well as 2 additional online meetings and multiple interviews.
This resulted in the following outputs:
- Multiple case studies of best practices uploaded onto the EUROPARC website
- A report with all the benchmarking info, best practices and workshop outcomes.
Responsible: the action will be coordinated by EUROPARC Federation and Brussels Environment, all partners will collaborate.
On the ground actions played an important role within the project, to serve as best practice examples for other cities to follow.
A2) Reforestation and the creation of a “pollinator highway” in Milan
Parco Nord Milano created about 3 hectares of new forest using climate-adapted species inside the park, as well as a three kilometer long ‘pollinator highway’ outside the park. The effects of this large scale green infrastructure and the effects on local biodiversity (including pollinators diversity) was assessed through an integrative approach, in collaboration with the University of Milano-Bicocca. This action allowed us to measure the real impact of large scale green infrastructure both for biodiversity, but also as an efficient climate buffer for the city. Amongst others, this will result in:
- 7000 climate-adapted plants in Parco Nord Milano
- 2 public events
- 3 km of large-scale pollinator green infrastructure
- 1 report of urban forestry activities and methods for pollinator highways
Responsible: Parco Nord Milano
A3) Increase public knowledge of biodiversity in urban private and public spaces in Lisbon
Educating the larger public on the importance of biodiversity in urban areas was actively pursued in Lisbon. This action aimed to create and disseminate know-how to local population for the enhancement of biodiversity in urban private and public spaces. There was a special focus on what species to choose to restore natural ecosystems; how to monitor hotspots for biodiversity; and how to apply NBS to accelerate natural succession and overcome limiting factors. Through the citizen-science programme “BioBlitz”, inhabitants were actively involved in the monitoring process. Additionally, Câmara Municipal de Lisboa aimed to involve 20-40 private owners and 30 public greenspace managers in the implementation of NBS. This action resulted in:
- The development of an algorithm for choosing the best plants for the improvement of Urban Biodiversity
- Guidelines on how to monitor urban fauna
- The implementation of three NBS
Responsible: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa
A special Conference took place in Lisbon for project partners and other Periurban Parks in Portugal. You can find the report of this meeting here:
A4) Assessing currently implemented NBS in Llobregat Riverside in Barcelona
This action assessed the effectiveness of Nature Based Solutions funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) from 2018 – 2020 in the Barcelona Metropolitan stretch of the Llobregat Riverside. For this, the Barcelona Metropolitian Area used both social (increase of use, improved accessibility) & ecological terms (increase of biodiversity). The NBS that were most effective will then be used in ERDF-funded transformer projects in 2021 – 2023. Additionally, 5 successful NBS will be identified and implemented on the ground. This will result in:
- Best practice examples for other peri-urban riverside spaces
- 1 evaluation report
- 1 guideline report
Responsible: Barcelona Metropolitian Area
A5) Improve ecological and social functions of Athens largest green corridor
This action aimed to explore the ecological, institutional, spatial, and social characteristics of the largest green corridor in Athens and to articulate them in a governance framework that can improve the ecosystem
services provided and its social functions. This was done by analysing the green corridor area and identifying the various uses and qualities of the area. The overall goal is to improve the functions of the green corridor and make it an integrated “model” planning tool that links the periurban area with green spaces inside the city. As such, it helps with climate change adaptation and strengthens a healthier and more resilient city. The action created the following outputs:
- 1 report with concrete actions to strengthen the green corridor in Athens for local authorities
- 1 guidelines report on how to better link per-urban and green urban areas
- A dissemination event in Athens for all project partners.
Responsible: Philodassiki Enossi Athinon and Management Authority of Schinias Marathon National Park, Mount Hymettus and Southeast Attica Region
A6) Boosting the implementation of urban street parks in Brussels
Fragmentation of green areas is a problem in many cities. Green infrastructure is needed to link different green spaces together. However, planting trees along a street will not be enough. There is a need to maximise ecosystem services delivered by these green infrastructures through a more ambitious model, that completely rethinks the design of the street. In this action, Brussels Environment looked at how to best create urban street parks in Brussels. First, a benchmarking study looked at existing EU urban street parks and the business model behind it. Through an open call for interest amongst the 19 municipalities of Brussels, three models were tested in model labs to test their strengths and weaknesses. A 100% citizen model, a 100% public model and a hybrid model with regards to planting and management were tested. Additionally, a socio-economic feasibility analysis, a SWOT analysis, and a comparative analysis were carried out in order to define what’s the best and successful model to be promoted in an EU urban context. This resulted in the following outputs:
- 1 comparative analysis of existing business models of urban street parks
- 3 model labs
- 1 comparative analysis of the best business model for the creation of urban street parks
- Coach sessions for municipalities that are not involved in the project to spread the model
Responsible: Brussels Environment
A7) Mainstream biodiversity and climate adaptation measures in heritage conservation green sites in Brussels
Whilst historically the only protection given to green spaces was under heritage legislation, with the development of nature conservation policy, one site can benefit from several protection statuses. This can cause conflicts, as these statuses can be contradictory and the number of stakeholders and administrative procedures multiplies.
Heritage sites tend to be “frozen” in their protection. However, as we see pressures on natural areas increase, this can paradoxically prove counterproductive for the preservation of heritage in the medium and long term.
Under this action, there was an analysis of Brussels green spaces benefiting from one of several protection statuses to determine their initial motivations and the convergences/divergences between the different statuses. Proposals were then made to adapt these listed heritage sites according to a relevant typology (for example semi-natural sites, squares, etc.). Ultimately, the goal is to create and adapt management plans and implement partnership agreements between heritage and green space administrations to streamline official procedures.
Overall, this will result in
- Identifying plants of interest (indigenous and horticultural plants useful for biodiversity and adapted to climate change)
- A reference framework for ecological and differentiated management adapted to natural heritage sites with ready to use technical prescriptions
- Co-creation (green managers and urban planners) of a new legal framework for the management of natural heritage sites” allowing the necessary adaptations to the climate and biological crisis
Responsible: Brussels Environment
A8) Explore different land use scenarios in Barcelona
Effectively managing land use whilst taking into account constraints like population rise or climate change should be a priority for planning cities and communities. However, currently long term vision is lacking. This action aimed to exploreand evaluate alternative land-use scenarios (e.g. agricultural, forest, equipment) defined by the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (BMA) Land Use Master Plan, in socio-ecological terms. In addition, the socioecological implications of transforming the current peri-urban conventional agriculture into agroecological agriculture were also assessed. To do so, the BMA tested the Socioecological Integrated Analysis (Marull et al. 2020) methodology, which integrated social variables into land planning. The result of this analysis will be included in a technical proposal for 7 of the Land Use Maser Plan commissions. They can then consider, accept or modify it. The indicators developed will be used to do the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the BMA Land Use Master Plan in non-developable areas. The outcomes include:
- Socioecological Integrated Analysis of land-use in the Llobregat Riverside
- Set of socio-ecological indicators identified, as well as the methodology to calculate them
- 7 or more meetings with each of the Land Use Plan Commissions from Barcelona Metropolitan Area
- 1 report of the debate, agreements and conclusions of these 7 sessions.
Responsible: Barcelona Metropolitian Area
A9) Promote Corporate Social Responsibility activities in Milan
Connecting periurban areas to cities does not just mean creating green corridors, it also means connecting the entire community to the park! This is why in Milan Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities were implemented to mobilise big companies and institutions to participate in the protection of Periurban Parks. To do so effectively, Parco Nord Milano created a framework to better structure these activities. Additionally, a “PEFC Certification of Sustainable Management of Urban Forests” was created by a third party certifier. This ads value to the CSR activities and represents a reliable way of measuring. This certificate was the first of its kind in Europe and will serve as a model for other peri-urban areas. The outputs of this action therefore are:
- Pilot test of the “Sustainable Management of Urban Forests” Certification
- 1 Guide with protocols on how to implement communication campaigns and enhance CSR activities in Periurban Parks in favour of biodiversity.
- 1 emission of a “PEFC certification of sustainable management of urban forest” issued by a third party certifier to Parco Nord Authority (if requirements are met)
Responsible: Parco Nord Milano
A10) Further develop CSR and educational actions in Athens
This action will build on the experiences of action A9. This action highlights the value of participatory and educational actions in nature. The aim is to generalise best practices of CSR activities implemented so far. It will upgrade the guidelines for companies created in A9 and propose a ready to use toolkit. The toolkit aims to stimulate and concretize participatory and educational activities of private companies and educational entities in Periurban Parks management, in favour of biodiversity. This will be done through analysing volunteer initiatives of the last 10 years in Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest and interviewing those that led CSR activities in companies. From this, a relevant set of actions, problems and solutions will be distilled. The same will be done for educational activities, programs and initiatives from selected companies, organizations and educational entities with experience in educating children, teachers and parents and the broader public. This had the following outputs:
- 1 toolkit with a set of participatory actions and ready to use protocols for upgrading CSR activities of companies with Periurban Park management bodies
- Create a template of collaboration framework between educational entities and Periurban Park management bodies
- A work report with guidelines and documented interviews
Responsible: Philodassiki Enossi Athinon
The Knowledge Hub
All of the info and experiences collected by these actions resulted in a Knowledge Hub. Apart from leading the communications of the project, EUROPARC was in charge of creating this Knowledge Hub. Its aim is to support local policy makers, Green Infrastructure planners and greenspace managers in mechanisms to enhance and maintain biodiversity for Urban Greening Plans. The Knowledge Hub contains:
- Library of Training
- User guides
- How-to resources
The Knowledge Hub ensuresdissemination and replication of the mechanisms to promote biodiversity that were developed and tested in the project. The material will be specifically designed for public administrations, providing details and orientation on material and costs, highlight the most frequent challenges and providing ways to solve them.
The Knowledge Hub will inspire and help other cities in the preparation of their own Urban Greening Plans.
There is a direct link between the Knowledge Hub and the EU Urban Greening Platform. We therefore worked in close collaboration with the EU Commission by actively involving officers from DG Environment and DG Climate, as well as other stakeholders during the lifetime of the project.
The Knowledge Hub presents the information in an innovative and visual design. To best deliver this, we worked together with third parties in order to build a creative and technical solutions that best deliver content. The goal was the create a “one-shop stop” web platform where users are provided with all information needed to get started on their own Urban Greening Plans.
Responsible: EUROPARC Federation and Brussels Environment, with participation of all partners. Athens and Milan will organise a technical meeting each.