• Green City ambassador Pieter van den Berk speaks at EU Conference evidence based planning for Greener Cities

    #european commission #green city

    Pieter van den Berk, one of our ambassadors spoke yesterday at the conference on ‘Evidence-based planning for greener cities’  in Paola, Malta. Pieter told the participants how The Green City strives for a more attractive and healthy environment. The Managing director of Van den Berk Nurseries is very proud to be active every day in contributing in making the world and society greener places. In Malta he told about the work and objectives of The Green City an international platform where practice, science and policy about green come together.

    The Green City aims to contribute to a better use of ‘green’. This could contribute to solving problems with polluted air and water, preventing social decline and urban decay, and making the city healthier and more attractive. They also want to ensure the economic development of the urban area continues. The Green City strives for innovative spatial planning on local, national and international levels.

    The participants of the conference discussed how science and the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services can inform city planning and policy-making, in order to improve urban quality of life. The conference is organised by the ‘EnRoute’ project of the European Commission in cooperation with the Maltese Presidency of the EU and the Maltese Institute of Applied Sciences, Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology.

  • The 2020 European Green Capital and 2019 European Green Leaf Awards

    #Europe #european green capital #green cities #urban environment

    Does your city have what it takes to be the next European Green Capital or European Green Leaf winner? The competition for both awards is now open with more details on the European Green Capital Award application to be found here and the European Green Leaf Award application here.

    For the first time, in order to celebrate the 10th year of the European Green Capital competition, the Commission will award a financial incentive of €350,000 to the winning city of the 2020 European Green Capital title (cities with a population of 100,000 or more inhabitants). A financial incentive of €75,000 will be awarded to the winner of the European Green Leaf 2019 title (cities with a population of 20,000 up to 100,000 inhabitants)[1].

    The European Green Capital Award (EGCA), now in its 10th cycle, rewards cities for making positive change to improve their urban environments. The European Green Leaf Award (EGLA), established in 2015, to commend the work of smaller cities in driving environmental change.

    Previous winners

    Stockholm, Sweden, was the first city to win the European Green Capital title in 2010. Since then, winners of the Award have come from all over Europe: Hamburg in Germany, 2011; Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain, 2012; Nantes in France, 2013; Copenhagen in Denmark, 2014; Bristol in the UK, 2015; Ljubljana in Slovenia, 2016; Essen in Germany, 2017; and Nijmegen in the Netherlands, 2018.

    Mollet del Vallès in Spain and Torres Vedras in Portugal were the first winners of the European Green Leaf Award in 2015. Galway in Ireland followed in 2017.

    The winners for the European Green Capital 2019 and Green Leaf 2018 will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in Essen, June 2017.

    Competition process

    Both Awards have a two-stage evaluation process. First, an international independent Expert Panel assesses each city’s application, selecting a shortlist for the next stage of the competition. Applicants are assessed based on 12 environmental indicators, and EGLA applicants on six topic areas.

    The Expert Panel evaluation is synopsised in the Technical Assessment Reports. The reports from all previous EGCA competition cycles are available here, and EGL reports can be found here.

    Finalists cities then present to an international Jury, when they must show their ongoing commitment to improving their urban environments and their capacity to act as a role model to others. You can find more information on the Jury and read Jury Reports from previous cycles here.

    Benefits of entering the competition

    Winning the EGCA and EGLA brings numerous benefits to a city, including:

    • Positive European and international media coverage;
    • Increased tourism;
    • Increased international profile, networking and new alliances;
    • New jobs – European Green Capital or European Green Leaf is more attractive to foreign investors;
    • Attracts public financial support;
    • More emphasis on environmental projects through sponsorship and grants;
    • Boosts local pride and generates a feeling of belonging;
    • Momentum to continue improving environmental sustainability;
    • Access to the European Green Capital and European Green Leaf Networks of previous winners and shortlisted cities to share ideas and experiences.

    Even undergoing the application process can be of great benefit to cities, as they gain expert advice on how to improve their approach under each environmental indicator/topic area.

    Applicant Workshop

    If you are thinking of applying this for years EGCA cycle or at a later date, why not attend the EGCA Applicant Workshop? Taking place 27 June 2017 in the European Commission’s Conference Centre ‘Albert Borschette’, the workshop provides cities with an overview of 2020 evaluation and assessment process, Expert Panel guidance, key elements from winning bids and a chance to hear from previous winners.

    The workshop will be held in English with interpretation into German, French, Spanish and Italian. Detailed information on the workshop including a draft agenda can be found here. You can see presentations from past Applicant Workshops here.

    More information on the application process for the EGCA can be found here and the EGL here.

    [1] Subject to the approval of the EU 2018 Budget and approval by the College of the 2018 Financing Decision for the EU LIFE Programme

  • EU Conference: Evidence-based planning for greener cities

    #european commission #Future green city #urban planning

    Conference in collaboration with the Maltese presidency of the EU Institute of Applied Sciences, Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, 13 June 2017

    Background and objectives Almost three out of four EU citizens live in urban areas and this number will further grow. All these people need an inclusive, healthy, resilient, safe and sustainable living environment. This challenge is well captured by the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (SDG) that include under SDG 11 seven specific targets aiming to make cities and communities better places to live. One important target is to provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces by 2030. Understanding how urban green spaces provide essential services to citizens is important to make informed decisions on maintaining or investing in green infrastructure. The EnRoute (‘Enhancing Resilience of urban ecosystems through green infrastructure’) project provides scientific evidence to help policy makers and planners with achieving this target. EnRoute is a project of the European Commission in the framework of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. It builds on the many positive experiences of the MAES urban pilot study1 . It aims to promote the application of urban green infrastructure at local level and will deliver guidance on the creation, management and governance of urban green infrastructure. Importantly, it will illustrate how collaboration between and across different policy levels can lead to concrete green infrastructure policy setting.

    EnRoute organises a conference with the following objectives:

    ● Evaluate how science can provide the tools to inform policy making and urban planning so that quality of life improves for every citizen;

    ● Discuss how the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem and their Services (MAES) evidence base can help for policy-setting with respect to urban planning;

    ● Networking for scientists, planners and policy makers working on urban green infrastructure topics. 1 http://biodiversity.europa.eu/maes Conference organisers

    ● European Commission – Joint Research Centre (Joachim Maes, Grazia Zulian)

    ● Institute of Applied Sciences, Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology2 (Mario Balzan) Data and Venue  The conference will take place in Paola (Malta) the premises of the Institute of Applied Sciences, Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), on 13 June 2017.

    Registration: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/ConferenceEvidenceForGreenerCities


    ● Policy makers from Malta and the European Commission

    ● Stakeholders and researchers from 19 cities across Europe which are partners of the EnRoute project (Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester, Utrecht, The Hague, Antwerp, Helsinki, Tallinn, Oslo, Leipzig, Karlovo, Limmasol, Valletta, Rome, Verona, Padova, Trento, Poznan and Lisbon).

    ● Local stakeholders from the Maltese environment and planning authorities ● European stakeholders (planning, research, member states)

  • Urban gardening at the RHS Flower Show in Tatton Park 2017

    #RHS #Urban Gardening

    Planted-up bus stops in streetscape designed by local communities • ‘The Bruntwood Experiment’ champions outdoor spaces that enhance wellbeing • ‘Future Spaces’ show how gardens can help us cope with climate change and ease symptoms of dementia • A flood-relief garden will demonstrate ways to conserve rainfall and prevent urban flooding • Popular Back-to-Back Gardens demonstrate planting ideas for small spaces

    The Bus Stop Boulevard and The Bruntwood Experiment

    Urban gardening is now more important than ever and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Show Tatton Park 2017 (19 – 23 July), supported by Bruntwood, will showcase ways to green up grey spaces to help create happier, healthier and more sustainable cities, and to combat some of the biggest environmental challenges facing us today.

    The 2101 garden by Wigan-based design team Warnes-Mcgarr features in the ‘Future Spaces’ category and depicts a garden of the future designed to cope with growing air temperatures. Drought-tolerant plants, typical of Mexican and South American landscapes, will feature alongside an aquaponics growing system to demonstrate a sustainable way of gardening, which uses waste from fish and other animals to nourish plants.

    Stockport design duo Dan Newbury & Martin Williams showcase ways to transform small, bare urban spaces into thriving, multi-functioning gardens. The Live Garden, also in the ‘Future Spaces’ category, has three levels and features a living wall and innovative technology, including a concealed cinema screen, and uses a live audio feed to capture the sounds of local wildlife.

    After three years exhibiting at the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Lancashire-based John Everiss returns to RHS Tatton for United Utilities with the Slow the Flow Garden to tackle flash-flooding. The attractive, stylish and practical garden harnesses, conserves and slows the flow of rainfall in urban spaces.

    Gardens and plants are not only essential for the environment but growing evidence indicates that they make us feel better and healthier. In fact 90% of us claim to feel better just being in a garden.

    The ‘Remember Me’ Garden, created by local designers Jane Bingham & Penny Hearn for the Mid-Cheshire Hospitals Charity, features dementia-friendly ideas such as growing plants popular in the 1960s and 1970s to evoke childhood memories and other horticultural concepts to help ease the symptoms of people with the condition.

    The 6m by 4m Back to Back Gardens will provide further inspiration on how to create a green retreat with limited space. Liverpool designer Paul Morris has created the Relaxation Meditation Garden, aiming to provide a relaxing space for meditation and inspire visitors to do the same at home, and features calming herbs, like camomile, mint and sage.

    Miserable commutes may be a thing of the past. The Bus Stop Boulevard, a 25m long street scene, will feature six planted-up bus shelters created by communities and designers from the Greater Manchester area. The RHS is calling on communities to enter the competition, supported by Transport for Greater Manchester, by applying here.

    The Bruntwood Experiment, by headline supporter, Bruntwood, features resilient plants that thrive in our complex, changing and often forgotten urban areas. Underlining Bruntwood’s association with the science and technology sector, the garden will act as a physical ‘experiment’, with the behaviour of both plants and people being monitored as they come face to face.

    Results of the ‘experiment’ will be used to inform the replanting of the garden at Bruntwood’s, Alderley Park campus, where it will form part of inclusive and vibrant internal and external spaces at the prestigious Parklands office building.

    Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood said: “We are excited to once again be headline supporters of RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. Our collaboration runs far deeper than just brand association; we build partnerships with organisations like the RHS because we want to encourage creativity both socially and culturally. The Bruntwood Experiment reflects this and we are delighted that it will go on to be rehomed at Alderley Park as a garden that enhances the wellbeing of our customers, colleagues and the wider community”

    Nick Mattingley, Director of RHS Shows said: “As the need for green spaces in urban areas increases, it is more important than ever to inspire people, communities and businesses to plant up, upcycle and do what they can to get greening. RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2017 is full of horticultural ideas and inspiration, as well as thousands of plants to buy so come along in July and get gardening!”

    Also at the show, innovative Garden Offices created by RHS Young Designer finalists, a butterfly dome containing thousands of tropical butterflies, Garden Hideaways, encouraging people to turn the humble garden shed into a custom made, up cycled, and innovatively decorated hideaway, and much more.

    For an up-to-date list of show content, please visit our media centre.

    The show will run from 19 – 23 July. Tickets are available at: www.rhs.org.uk/tatton

  • Greening Grey Britain Garden

    #climate change #gardening

    With more pollution and flooding in towns and cities, plants and gardens have never been needed more – this RHS garden tackles these pressing problems


    Green Grey Britain Garden at Chelsea 2017
    To illustrate the challenges of climate change and rapid urban development, the RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G Investments (23 – 27 May) is set within an urban landscape. The garden focuses on practical and creative solutions for where space is at a premium, including balconies, and areas on and around the buildings themselves.
    Designer, Professor Nigel Dunnett, says:

    “Gardens and plants are no longer an optional and decorative ‘nice-to-have’, they’re essential. With pollution levels dangerously high in cities and flash-flooding devastating areas of the country, we need to all embrace the fact that plants help mitigate against some of the biggest environmental threats facing us today.”

    Nigel uses plants that soak-up pollution, as well as those which are drought tolerant, and has incorporated water-sensitive design ideas, such as rain gardens and wetland areas to deal with flash flooding. Nigel’s typical ‘low-input, high impact’ planting style is used throughout to deliver a long-lasting, colourful display with minimal maintenance and high wildlife value. The modern garden is full of ecological ideas.
    Greening Grey Britain garden

    Large, multi-tiered structures which mirror apartment blocks also feature in the garden. These ‘creature towers’ provide a home for a wide range of wildlife such as insects and birds.

    It is full of inspirational take-home ideas which are directly relevant to home gardeners and community groups, and Nigel has used realistic and readily-available materials to make sure that this is an achievable project.

    Other notable elements include:

    • bike storage
    • recycling and composting facilities
    • edible planting (including a 2.5 metre long communal meeting table which integrates fruit trees and herbs in its structure).

    Nigel added that:

    “We know that gardens and gardening bring people together, and there’s now overwhelming evidence that they make us feel better and healthier. These ideas are central to the design.”

    The garden, which is an unjudged show feature, also contains RHS Chelsea’s first ever street-art wall.
    Key features:

    • RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden contains inspirational ideas for the future development of urban spaces
    • Adapted to climate-change, with ‘low-input, high-impact’ planting, water-sensitive design, biodiversity and habitat features, and pollution-soaking plants
    • Aims to inspire people, communities and urban developers, set in the context of a high-rise apartment block
    • Will showcase first ever street-art wall at RHS in the history of the show

    Read more about Greening Grey Britain

    Source: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/News/2017/greening-grey-britain-garden


  • Urban heat poses greatest health threat

    Climate change and the resilience of cities is another key planning challenge that is confronting cities, claims landscape architect Professor Elizabeth Mossop, Dean of Design Architecture and Building at Sydney’s University of Technology.

    Mossop has also been involved in the post-hurricane reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and the ongoing revitalisation of Detroit in the United States.

    “Mitigating the effects of urban heat islands through increased tree canopy and vegetation, for example, is necessary to avoid heat-related public health issues and the economic implications of increased energy use,” she says.

    Urban heat islands are built-up areas that are significantly warmer than their rural surroundings due to human activities, and often experience increased temperature differences of up to 3.7 degrees celsius.

    “Contrary to popular belief our greatest public health threat is heat,” says Mossop.

    “As things heat up more and more, the issues become increasingly acute and that is what we, as planners, are faced with at the moment.”

    Mossop says planners are becoming more influential, working alongside local authorities and key decision makers to tackle the challenging issues.

    “Our creative problem-solving is needed to help with complicated questions around urban population growth, sustainabilty, resilience, and how cities influence issues of social justice. We need to be creative in how best to use new technology and advancements.”

  • Also Cuba needs Green Cities

    Cuba, under the auspices of the UN Development Program (UNDP), is implementing a strategic flora and fauna conservation and preservation initiative that involves an undertaking to implement a series of concrete actions until the year 2020.The national study, led by Cuba’s Environment Agency’s Ecology and Systematic Institute, incorporates 20 goals and five concrete targets, intended to stem biodiversity deterioration and destruction.

    Addressing the underlying causes of species loss, coping with primary threats, encouraging the sustainable exploitation of species and the conservation of ecosystems, habitats, species and genes are some of the program’s goals.Launching the strategy, the UND’s resident representative in Cuba, Soledad Bauza, stressed the importance of the program, which is the principal strand of a plan for implementing strategic national environmental policy objectives, to cope with the loss of animal and plant species.Bauza told The Havana Reporter that the goals focus on the main challenges that productive sectors must face to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and restore the health of ecosystems. The strategy also plays a leading role in the fight against climate.

    Given its insular state condition, Cuba is highly vulnerable to rising average sea levels and temperatures and drought conditions.

    Having already been presented to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13) last December in Cancun, Mexico, the report’s authors state that the plan complies with UN Convention on Climate Change commitments and aims to establish a series of actions with relevant and realistic goals. Its primary purpose is to identify and establish priorities to halt biodiversity loss though preservation and sustainable use.

    Source: UNDP & http://www.cadenagramonte.cu


  • Europe’s cities going green despite tight budgets

    European cities are successfully future-proofing against climate change despite budgetary constraints.

    That’s according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report, which highlights a range of green successes and demonstrates how they could be implemented elsewhere.Popular and relatively cost effective measures include building more green spaces and installing green roofs, both of which enhance water retention, aid cooling and provide thermal insulation.For example, the Slovakian capital of Bratislava is installing green infrastructure such as low-emission buses, planting more trees around the city, setting up green roofs and building rainwater retention facilities.

    These measures mean the city is already on the way to slashing its total emissions, reducing pollution and improving quality of life.However, a lack of funding has been cited by mayors, city managers and planners across Europe as one of the main reasons for the slow uptake of green measures.This means a range of innovative funding options to pay for the projects need to be deployed.Bratislava used a combination of EEA grants and municipal funds to leverage private investment – other ways to finance adaptation include crowdfunding, green bonds and making the most of subsidies.

    Some other cities to have secured funding for green measures include Copenhagen, which is upgrading its floodwater management and lighting systems and Paris, which is planting 20,00 trees in an effort to make the city’s public spaces more sustainable. The town of Essen in Germany is the European Green Capital for 2017.

    Source: EEA and https://www.energylivenews.com

  • Planting Healthy Air: A Natural Solution to Address Pollution and Heat in Cities

    #air pollution #clean air #cool cities #green cities #the nature conservancy

    Can nature help cities address the twin problems of air that is too dirty or too hot? Based on a new report released by The Nature Conservancy – in collaboration with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group – the answer appears to be a qualified “yes.”

    The Planting Healthy Air report identifies the potential return on investment from tree planting in 245 global cities, which currently house about a quarter of the world’s urban population. By collecting and analyzing geospatial information on forest and land cover, particulate matter, and population density and leveraging existing literature, the study estimates the scope of current and future street trees to make urban air healthier. The benefits that trees could afford to cities will be even more crucial in the future, the study finds, as a quarter million people could die each year because of urban heat by 2050, unless cities take proactive steps to adapt to global warming.

    While existing city trees already clean and cool the air for more than 50 million people, a global investment of $100 million per year in tree planting and maintenance could provide as many as 77 million people with cooler cities and offer 68 million people measurable reductions in fine particulate matter pollution. New city trees offer great potential impact, but maintaining existing city trees is critical, as many global cities are losing tree cover over time, due to development, pests and pathogens, and lack of budget for maintenance.

    The Planting Healthy Air report and the accompanying website, with an interactive map and case studies for the report’s top ranked cities, provide resources for those interested in using nature to make air healthier. These findings can help urban leaders and public health officials address outstanding issues about trees and air quality, such as which cities and which neighborhoods can be helped most, the fraction of the air quality problem can trees solve, how much investment is needed, and where are trees a cost-effective investment. In many cities, an individual neighborhood may offer a much higher ROI than the city’s average, and the report’s maps can be a useful tool for city leaders deciding where to make an investment in city trees.

    For those searching for ways to address the challenges of air quality and heat, urban trees are the only solution to simultaneously address both. Trees also provide a range of co-benefits, including wildlife habitat, flood control, carbon sequestration, and recreational opportunity, which can have significant value for a city. While urban trees alone can’t solve the challenges of urban heat and air pollution, they’re a solution that can be put in place today and they are comparable in cost and effectiveness in many neighborhoods to such solutions as limiting automobile traffic in cites, painting roofs white or installing scrubbers on smokestacks.

    In the right spot, trees can help make our air healthier and our cities more verdant and livable.


    Source: Robert McDonald, Lead Scientist for the Global Cities program at The Nature Conservancy http://www.c40.org/blog_posts

  • Global forest ecosystems

    #ecosystem #global forest #global warming #Green study #trees

    Global forest ecosystems, widely considered to act as the lungs of the planet, ‘held their breath’ during the most recent occurrence of a warming hiatus, new research has shown.

    The international study examined the full extent to which these vital ecosystems performed as a carbon sink from 1998-2012 – the most recent recorded period of global warming slowdown.

    The researchers, including Professor Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, demonstrated that the global carbon sink—where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the natural environment – was particularly robust during this 14 year period.

    The study shows that, during extended period of slower warming, worldwide forests ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, but reduced the rate at which they ‘breathe out’—or release the gas back to the atmosphere. The team believes the crucial study offers a significant breakthrough for future climate modelling, which is used to predict just how different ecosystems will respond to rising global temperatures. The pioneering study is published in leading science journal, Nature Climate Change, on Monday, January 23 2017.

    Professor Friedlingstein, Chair of the Mathematical Modelling of Climate Systems research group at the University of Exeter said: ” Disentangling the feedback between global warming and the carbon cycle is critical for us to anticipate future climate change. In this study, we analysed what happened during the recent period of reduced warming, the so-called hiatus, highlighting the importance of ecosystem respiration as a key control of land carbon sinks.”

    The Earth’s vast ecosystems, such as forests and oceans, are known to counteract the adverse climate impacts of fossil fuel consumption by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting as a carbon sink. However, uncertainties remain about how these ecosystems will respond to future climate change, whether by consuming more carbon or, conversely, releasing greater volumes of carbon back into the atmosphere.

    The study focused on Earth’s natural carbon cycle responded during both periods of rapid, and less rapid, warming that would normally be expected. It revealed that the total amount of carbon taken up by land ecosystems slowed during periods of rapid warming, and sped up during periods of slower warming.

    More significantly, the team demonstrated that while rates of photosynthesis remained constant during the periods of slower warming, the forests released less carbon back into the atmosphere – meaning the Earth is storing much more carbon during these warming hiatuses.

    “The global carbon sink has been surprisingly strong during the period from 1998 to 2012, and we now begin to understand the causal mechanisms”, says Ashley Ballantyne of University of Montana, and lead author of the new research. Pekka Kauppi a forest ecologist from Helsinki University and co-author added the results were “As if forests have been holding their breath”.

    ‘Accelerating net terrestrial carbon uptake during the warming hiatus due to reduced respiration’ is published online in Nature Climate Change on Monday,
    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-01-forests-held-global-hiatus.html#jCp

    Source: http://www.americanforests.org