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ALCALA DE HENARES – the famous spanish historical city rely on NBS to meet its urban challenges

Alcala de Henares is one of the 4 pilot cities of the Nature4Cities Project, together with Ankara, Milan and Szeged.

Participating cities are located in different countries and different climate zones (Mediterranean, continental and semi-arid), allowing to test the replicability of our tools in several geographical contexts.

Alcalá de Henares is located 35 kilometers northeast from the capital city of Madrid. At an average of 654 m of altitude, on the southern part of the Meseta Central, the city extends on a surface of 88 km2.

The landscape offered by its parks and gardens, the tree-lined promenades or the tree-lined sidewalks, constitutes a representative element of nature in the city, and its presence undoubtedly means an improvement in the quality of life of the people. Alcalá de Henares has a green surface, public and private, of 4.5 km2, which means that there are 21.53 m2 for each inhabitant.

Improve Natural Heritage protection, favor biodiversity and deal with waste management: key challenges for the city

Nowadays, cities have to fight against climate change, air pollution and the loss of natural spaces.

The pressure exerted on the natural environment and the lack of valuation of it creates vulnerability and therefore it is necessary to take measures in this regard.

Alcalá de Henares has a Natural Heritage among which is the river Henares and its banks that belong to the protected area of ​​the RED Natura 2000. This area of ​​great environmental value requires special care and protection and the implication of administrations and citizens is necessary to guarantee its effectiveness.

It is important to improve the awareness and sensitization of the citizens to value and protect this important heritage, and help it thrive over time. One of the stakes of the implementation of Nature Based Solutions (NBS) through the Nature4Cities project will be to use this cultural heritage as a driving force for renaturing the city.

Introducing Nature-Based Solutions to buffer and mitigate the impact on riparian vegetation will favor biodiversity in the area and foster the recovery of the benefits of the natural system.

That’s why city decided to implement an edible forest. An edible forest is an orchard forest carefully designed to obtain food while retaining the benefits of a natural system. The food obtained is not only for humans, but also for those animals that find shelter in this forest, which can equally be fed and participate in the seeds dissemination or pollination of the forest itself. In addition, the symbiosis between roots and microbial life will be considered in its design, considering also the municipal mycological interest.

Collective planting of the first trees of the edible forest during Nature4Cities General Meeting in Alcala de Henares

Another challenge facing the city is the management of waste, especially in relation to the separation of organic matter or bio-waste. Organic matter accounts for 40% of the total waste produced, hence the importance of treating it properly to avoid its impact on our environment.

The objective is to increase the selective collection of organic waste that, according to the Waste Framework Directive 2008 (applied in Spain with Law 22/2011), should be at least 50% of the total by 2020.

To face this urban challenge, the implementation of Nature Based Solutions such as compost, mulching and reconstruction of soils can give a meaningful contribution.

Are you facing similar challenges? Do you want to be informed about Nature4Cities pilot implementations for greener resilient cities?

Are you a citizen from Alcala de Henares and you wish to be invited to the upcoming participation process?

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