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Pilot sites in Szeged: How to maximize the impacts of your NBS?

In the scope of the Nature4Cities project, the city of Szeged has decided to rely on NBS to fight heat highlands, to proceed to a better water management and to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

In a serie of 5 videos, you are invited to delve into the possibilities offered by NBS for a medium-sized city, to set up effective projects, maximizing impacts for both biodiversity and local populations. These videos were coordinated by Dr. Ágnes Gulyás, assistant professor in the department of Climatology and Landscape Ecology in the University of Szeged.

We interviewed Ágnes on this series of inspiring videos.

What was your intention in making this series of videos?

A.G. : Szeged (Hungary) is one of the pilot cities of the Nature4Cities H2020 project. As the concept of nature-based solutions (NBS) is not yet well known in Hungary, the aim of making short movies was to present the good examples that can be found in connection with the application of the NBS in Szeged. On one hand, we want to increase the awareness of such solutions, and on the other hand, the examples can serve as models for other settlements in the wider region (having similar environmental background). We intended to generate interest in the evaluation tools that are made as results of the Nature4Cities project. These will allow us to comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of individual NBSs, thus helping urban planners and decision makers.

What are the different solutions presented in the videos?

A.G : In the first video, we present an urban forest that is150 years old and represents a near-natural habitat in the middle of the city in despite it is under an intense anthropogenic load. The “Liget” preserves the memory of a riverine poplar-willow and oak-elm-ash woodlands, home of many valuable plant, animal and mushroom species, while also being a popular recreation park and sometimes a venue for festivals and events. This conflict can only be addressed by trying to reconcile the needs of the human population with the needs of nature: for example, maintaining a mud-free pavement and rainfall infiltration can be ensured simultaneously with mulch cover.

Climate change (and the global pandemic) draws attention to the importance and sustainability of urban green spaces. A significant change in approach is needed to plant sustainable, climate-conscious, perennial beds in public areas as much as possible, instead of intensive (high-cost) annual plantings, where natural ecological processes also help sustainability. We show this possibility in our second spot.

In Hungary, the use of green roofs and green walls is not wide-spread. Due to higher costs and implementation uncertainties, decision makers do not like to choose the application of such solutions. Our third short movie intends to draw attention to the environmental (and economic) benefits that come with such NBS applications and could be exploited to a much greater extent today.

In a continental region such as Szeged, water management is a crucial issue in terms of thermal comfort, green space survival and maintaining a livable city. There are many cost-effective nature based solutions for keeping precipitation in situ, which are also little known in Hungary. In this last video, we are showing examples (e.g raingarden application) that, in addition to environmental benefits, can also be a green solution to a specific investor need.

You can also discover one of Szeged pilot site, the "bird friendly garden".

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