Advantages of urban nature
Strengthens local, national and global biodiversity and demands less maintenance than traditional parks.
Holds large amounts of water and creates natural shade that cools areas and thus serves as a buffer against climate change.
Helps renew air and thereby improves air quality. More plants in the cities can also curb emissions and contribute to cleaner air.
Has a calming and healing effect with regard to a number of disease symptoms and stress.
Supports several of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and thereby helps cities follow a sustainable development strategy.
Our proximity to nature and green areas is extremely important not just for our quality of life but also for our health. Research from the University of Copenhagen reveals that green areas in urban environments can help prevent stress, while scientific studies published in the journals Environmental Science & Technology and Risk Management and Healthcare Policy show that they can also reduce the risk of obesity, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.
Ramboll’s Liveable Cities Survey show that residents also prioritise these green spaces very highly: 68 percent of the respondents believe that proximity to green areas is of major or crucial importance to them. But as cities grow and attract more people, this natural environment is increasingly under pressure, a fact that also threatens the UN and EU goal to prevent a decline in biodiversity by 2020 at the latest.
Green transport corridors
It is Ramboll’s stated mission to make people and nature flourish, and the company has acted on many projects that deliver net positive environmental benefits, increase wildlife and add to public enjoyment. These include projects that support oases of urban nature as well as the greening of the road and rail routes into city centres.
In London, Network Rail’s GBP seven billion Thameslink Programme reconstructed the line approaching London Bridge station, allowing trains to cross unimpeded and run more efficiently, while also improving the site’s low conservation value and limited botanical diversity.
This was challenging because the site contained the previous tenant’s debris, and the soil was heavily contaminated with asbestos, hydrocarbons and Japanese knotweed.
Overall, 21,900 tonnes of contaminated material were removed and replaced by 765 m2 of green walls and a colourful mix of native wildflowers. Furthermore, the railway embankments now function as green corridors and stepping stones to the wider area.
In Offenbach, Germany, climate adaptation is being achieved in an urban context to create a new sustainable city district.
In Offenbach, Germany, a contaminated industrial peninsula on the River Main presented an almost equally challenging environment.
Ramboll is now converting the area into a new, sustainable city district based on a holistic climate adaptation concept, developed to create ‘soft’ city spaces and streetscapes while retaining and cleansing storm water before releasing it to the river and harbour.
Innovative natural water treatment systems such as cleansing biotopes are being integrated into the park spaces, and new, natural habitats are being created for flora and fauna while providing the city with a refreshing green oasis.
In Singapore, a similar project – which has collected several awards like the London and Offenbach projects – has been completed. A green-area restoration including added plants and a healthier river in Bishan Ang Mo-Kio Park have improved the city’s biodiversity, attracting many different species of birds and insects, and helping to keep mosquitos at bay.
Ramboll is also working with nature rehabilitation in China, where rivers have been profoundly affected by industrialisation for decades. One project is the Beijing stretch of the Xiao River, a 346-km manmade waterway that needs restoration due to heavy pollution.
The redesign of the river on behalf of the stock-listed Beijing Enterprises Water Group Limited creates a scientific eco-landscape framework that meets the requirements for developing the riverfront of the rapidly expanding urban district of Tongzhou. Several other projects are located close to Changchun City,
the capital and largest city of Jilin Province, including a landscape and eco-water design project on 16 km of the Dongxin River that aims to be a beautiful river park enhancing urban liveability.