The Green Belt of Vitoria-Gasteiz - History
The Green Belt is an environmental project that aims to recover the city's degraded spaces. It is also an educational and social project as it promotes the use of the Green Belt by the public for environmental education purposes. However, it is basically a territorial and urban development project, designed for the city and for its inhabitants.
The CEA is the entity responsible for the conception, design and execution of the Green Belt. Nevertheless, in order to develop this initiative it requires the technical, financial, administrative and political support of other municipal departments and other public and private institutions including, among others, the European Union, the Ministry for the Environment, the Basque Government and the Vitoria and Alava Savings Bank.
Milestones in the development of the project:
- 1992: Work began on the Green Belt. Ecological recovery of the Zabalgana gravel pit.
- 1996: Initial environmental education activities with 1400 participants.
- 1997: Collaboration agreement according to which the Provincial Council of Alava entrusted Vitoria-Gasteiz City Hall with the management of Armentia Park.
- 1998: Restoration of the lake in Arkaute as part of the project to divert the rivers Santo Tomás and Errekaleor, financed by the European Union.
- 1999: The Green Belt is included in the General Urban Plan of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
- 2000: Selection as Best Practice by the Spanish Habitat Committee.
- 2002: Declaration of Salburúa Park as Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Agreement.
- 2002: Granting of financial support by the Hydrographic Confederation of the River Ebro for the first stage of the hydraulic adaptation and environmental restoration project of the River Zadorra.
- 2004: Project to prepare urban paths and walkways through the Green Belt to promote its use by the public.
- 2004: Designation of the Salburua Wetlands and the River Zadorra as Community Interest Areas within the Natura 2000 network.
- 2007: Building of the Interpretation Centre of the Salburua wetlands, Ataria.
- 2009: Granting of a subsidy by the Basque Government for work on the Green Belt.
- 2010: Completion of work on the European Forests Arboretum.
The Green Belt project was selected "BEST" project at the 3rd International Practices Competition in Dubai, called by the Spanish Habitat Committee and was given prominence in the "3rd Spanish Catalogue of Good Practices. Cities for all", published by the Ministry of Public Works and the FEMP for its contribution to "improving the living conditions of citizens from the viewpoint of sustainable development".
It is this award, perhaps, that best sums up the true magnitude and significance of this project, which, from the original design and conception to the maintenance carried out in each one of the parks, has been inspired by the basic principles of sustainability.
The initial stage of the project consisted of establishing the main elements that would make up the Green Belt. The imposition of specific limits was considered inadvisable, as this space is subject to continuous modifications.
The generic planning criterion was to prevent the fragmentation of the natural spaces situated on the periphery of the city and to promote the physical and ecological connectivity between them and the extensive system of green areas in the city and , at a secondary level, other natural spaces in the municipality.
After analysing the area in which the project was to be developed, it was considered essential to connect the ancient wetlands of Salburua and the Campas de Olarizu, located to the east, and the mountains of Zabalgana and forest of Armentia, to the west, with the River Zadorra to the north and the Mountains of Vitoria to the south. This would be done by means of adequately planned and restored corridors that would connect the main natural spaces of the Municipality.
The resulting layout was a Green Belt made up of five main parks interconnected by means of a series of connecting elements ranging from tree-lined hedges and stretches of river banks to seriously degraded areas such as rubbish tips, abandoned gravel pits and other marginal spaces whose definitive use had yet to be defined.
In 2011, the physical preparation of the Green Belt was at an advanced stage of development. Although several spaces have already been consolidated, some of which are currently being enlarged, there are still a number of degraded areas pending recovery, such as the Lasarte gravel pits, some stretches of the River Errekaleor and Berrosteguieta Park. The Belt currently occupies a surface area of 645 ha, approximately 70% of the total planned surface area of 960 ha.
- ARMENTIA: 165 ha (167 ha in total when complete)
- SALBURUA: 218 ha (219 ha in total )
- ZABALGANA: 61 ha (105 ha in total )
- OLARIZU: 93 ha (126 ha in total )
- ZADORRA: 155 ha (227 ha in total )
- ERREKALEOR: 12 ha (60 ha)
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