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Cities across Europe are trialling schemes such as roof gardens and 'mobile forests' to embed more nature into urban areas in an effort to protect their citizens from climate change events like heatwaves, floods and droughts.
Cities are becoming harder places to live in as climate change brings higher temperatures, water scarcity and flooding that not only makes already crowded urban areas less comfortable but also put lives at risk.
Citizens - Threats - Nature - Areas - Researchers
But it may be possible to protect citizens from these threats by integrating more nature into urban areas, according to researchers.
'We lost sight on how to work with nature,' said Dr. Laura Wendling, an urban scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
Systems - Cities - Change
Using natural systems, however, it is possible to help cities adapt to climate change, she says.
Nature-based solutions can provide cities with urban cooling, cleaner air, regulated water supplies and flood protection. They include simple approaches like planting new trees and creating parks with a rich collection of biodiversity. But they can also include more complex solutions like covering roofs in vegetation that are efficient at capturing carbon from the atmosphere, pavements that absorb rainwater and mobile forests—portable trees in pots that can be moved to hotspots to provide shade and clean air.
'We - Solutions - Cities - Dr - Wendling
'We know nature-based solutions are really good at helping cities,' said Dr. Wendling. '(But) we don't have a really good handle on how to best place nature-based solutions to get the greatest benefit.'
Dr. Wendling is the technical coordinator of UNaLab, a project looking to get the information needed to convince more cities to greenlight nature-based solutions. The project is rolling out a selection of pilots in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Tampere in Finland and Genova in Italy, to demonstrate whether it is possible to use nature to improve the cities' resilience to warmer temperatures or better water management.
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