Frequent questions on the Green Infrastructure

What is the Green Infrastructure?
The Green Infrastructure(Opens in new window) is a strategically planned network of natural, rural and urban green spaces (including rivers and other forms of water). These are managed in order to offer a broad range of socio-ecosystem services that provide environmental, social and economic benefits and for the health of the inhabitants of the city.
What benefits does it offer?
Each space and element of the green infrastructure develops a number of specific functions, which translate into services and benefits for society. For example, through photosynthesis, woods act like large CO2 sinks to prevent climate change, accumulate large amounts of water (avoiding floods in the lower sections of catchment areas) and provide a habitat for a rich and varied flora and fauna. Crop fields provide locally-sourced foods and maintain the fertility of the soil. Besides being spaces for leisure and recreation, urban parks act like the green lungs of the city, reducing the atmospheric contamination and improving the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants.

When the different parts of the green infrastructure are connected together they work better and provide more benefits.
What is the Green Infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz like?
The Green Infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz comprises the woods that line the mountainous fBeltes of the municipality, the agro-forestry matrix, its lakes and wetlands, the Green Belt, its parks, gardens and other urban green spaces, its rivers and streams, as well as the network of green ways that connect these spaces. Some of these spaces and locations are protected by their good ecological state of conservation.

As a whole, this natural heritage provides a large number of ecosystem services that, nevertheless, can be promoted even further through actions designed to improve and increase the ecological connectivity between spaces.
And the urban green infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz?
Vitoria-Gasteiz, with 46 m2 per inhabitant, is one of the cities with more urban and periurban green spaces in Europe. The Urban Green Infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz is made up of the Green Belt, parks and gardens, tree-lined avenues, green sports areas, urban horticultural gardens, the streams that cross the city, the edges and central reservations of roadways, residual and transitional green areas and other, less conventional elements such as vacant plots and the green facades and roofs.
The urban green infrastructure makes the city more inhabitable and resilient to climate change and has a very positive influence on people’s health, as it improves air quality, moderates temperatures, reduces noise and stress levels, etc.
Why is it important to naturalise urban green areas?
Naturalising urban green areas means increasing plant, tree and shrub cover, reducing large, turfed areas that require frequent mowing operations and introducing well-adapted native vegetation with fewer water requirements than allochthonous plants that, moreover, are invasive in some cases.

In this way, the biodiversity and benefits and associated ecosystem services (air enhancement, increase in rainwater retention) can be augmented and the high costs involved in the current costs of maintaining and managing urban green spaces can be reduced.
Why transform empty plots into parts of the green infrastructure?
Today, Vitoria-Gasteiz contains a large number of empty plots that have been left vacant as a result of the current stagnation in the building sector, and these are causing problems of dirt, urban disconnection, etc.

By transforming these plots (especially those owned by City Hall and those that have been earmarked for municipal installations) into green infrastructure elements will allow us to give them a temporary use until they are finally developed, resolve the problems they are causing, improve their appearance and the surrounding area, strengthen the network of green spaces and increase ecosystem services.
What is being done to enhance the urban green infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz?
An Urban Green Infrastructure Strategy is being drawn up, the main spaces in which actions are to be taken have been defined, and a number of projects have been carried out. Work is also being done at a district level through the Green Infrastructure – district by district initiative.

Urban woods have been created in central reservations and roundabouts, strips of planting have been installed that act as sustainable drainage systems, gardens have been renewed by replacing lawns with low-consumption covering plants and refuges have been created for fauna. In these empty plots, agro-forestry crops have been introduced (of lavender and energy willows), urban horticultural gardens and edible woods.
What are the aims of the Urban Green Infrastructure of Vitoria-Gasteiz?
  • Foster biodiversity in the city through the creation of habitats for flora and fauna, and connect the green spaces and periurban areas both spatially and functionally.
  • Increase ecosystem services in the city, favouBelt urban metabolism processes based more closely on natural processes and reducing the consumption of natural resources.
  • Integrate ecological and hydrological processes and flows in the urbanised grid through adequate planning and management.
  • Mitigate urban heat islands, reduce climate change and improve the conditions and processes designed to adapt to this. Increase the resilience of the region and reduce its vulnerability.
  • Promote public use compatible with green spaces, increase leisure and recreational opportunities, increase accessibility and countryside-city connections, preserve the cultural legacy and traditional landscapes and foster the sense of identity and belonging.
  • Create environments that favour the health, collective well-being and general habitability of the city.
  • Create an awareness of the relationship between nature, biodiversity and society and, particularly, ecosystem goods and services, including their economic valuation.
  • Contribute to economic development through green employment.
How is the Green Infrastructure Strategy managed?
This is a transversal project, in which a number of different municipal departments are working. The Urban Landscape Unit is the body responsible for planning, maintaining and managing the green spaces of the urban area of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It works in coordination with the Green Belt and Biodiversity Unit (both units belong to the Environment and Public Space Department), to establish the design and sustainable management criteria of the urban green infrastructure.

The CEA is responsible for providing advice and technical assistance and for carrying out studies as well as the promotion, diffusion and liaison with the public through participation processes. On occasions, it collaborates with other departments, such as Public Health in the performance of a study on the Green Infrastructure and Health in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

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