Great news, Green Monsters! In an epic move to restore the balance between city and nature, Madrid, Spain is working on plans to cover pretty much every bit of unused city space with plants, in an effort to combat the city’s rising temperatures. Madrid has already taken big steps towards making their city more environmentally-friendly by redesigning twenty-four of their busiest streets for pedestrians only. Under their new plan-of-action to fight climate change with plants, the city’s Department of Environment may turn some of those streets into beautiful, tree-lined parks.
This move couldn’t be more timely considering in the summer of 2015, Madrid experienced a record-breaking temperature of 104°F. Heat waves that the city used to experience every twenty years now occur every five years. In a pilot test, the city found that temperatures in areas with rooftop gardens went down by four degrees! In addition to installing rooftop gardens, they will also put wall-climbing plants on the side of buildings. Not only would this help insulate buildings, thus saving energy, but it will also cut down noise pollution and help reduce local temperatures, providing shade – evaporated water released by plants also creates “clouds” that help cool things down.
Long story short, we’re totally jealous residents of Madrid will get to live amongst plants in an urban landscape. If their city officials can plan to cover their buildings and walkways with nature, then why can’t others? A study led by the Nature Conservancy shows that reforestation of urban areas is a great way for cities to fight pollution and it could also help pollinator populations. Not to mention, spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress. It’s really a win all around!