DESIGN WITH NATURE: “We lost sight on how to work with nature. Using natural systems, however, it is possible to help cities adapt to climate change,” says Dr. Laura Wendling, an urban scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Note to Reader:
Dr. Wendling, an urban scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, is the technical coordinator of UNaLab, a project looking to get the information needed to convince more cities to greenlight nature-based solutions. The project is rolling out a selection of pilots in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Tampere in Finland and Genova in Italy, to demonstrate whether it is possible to use nature to improve the cities’ resilience to warmer temperatures or better water management.
UNaLab is developing, via co-creation with stakeholders and implementation of ‘living lab’ demonstration areas, a robust evidence base and European framework of innovative, replicable, and locally-attuned nature-based solutions to enhance the climate and water resilience of cities. UNaLab focuses on urban ecological water management, accompanied with greening measures and innovative and inclusive urban design.
Mobile forests could help cities cope with climate change
“Cities across Europe are trialling schemes such as roof gardens and ‘mobile forests’ to embed more nature into urban areas in an effort to protect their citizens from climate change events like heatwaves, floods and droughts,” wrote Steve Gillman in an article published in Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine.
“Nature-based solutions can provide cities with urban cooling, cleaner air, regulated water supplies and flood protection. They include simple approaches like planting new trees and creating parks with a rich collection of biodiversity.
“But they can also include more complex solutions like covering roofs in vegetation that are efficient at capturing carbon from the atmosphere, pavements that absorb rainwater and mobile forests—portable trees in pots that can be moved to hotspots to provide shade and clean air.
“By 2050, 80% of Europe’s population is expected to live in cities, up from 70% today, increasing the demand for land further. It means strong data will be needed to ensure nature has a place in cities rather than less sustainable, but cheaper, infrastructure like densely built apartment blocks.”
In the article, Steve Gillman quotes Dr. Laura Wendling as follows: “We know nature-based solutions are really good at helping cities (But) we don’t have a really good handle on how to best place nature-based solutions to get the greatest benefit.
“Ultimately we need to have cities that are more liveable, more resilient to environment and social perturbations and nature-based solutions provide us that buffering capacity (to cope).”
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