The Metropolitan Forest: Madrid reveals plans to develop “the largest green infrastructure to be built in Europe”

Madrid authorities are looking to develop a 74km-long forest belt around the city’s perimeters, in what could be “the largest green infrastructure to be built in Europe in the next decade”.

Hailed as El Bosque Metropolitano (the Metropolitan Forest), the huge “environmental belt” will involve the planting of more than 450,000 trees.

Endemic tree species such as holly oaks, pines, poplars and strawberry trees will be planted throughout and even bridges running over busy motorways will become ecoducts, green bridges with trees and foliage that allow wildlife to cross over safely.

Madrid authorities hope that by the time of the project’s completion, which it estimates to be in 12 years, the Metropolitan Forest will have the capacity to absorb 170,000 tonnes of CO2.  

The Spanish capital is already home to two large parks – El Retiro and Casa de Campo – and offers 22.83m2 of green space per inhabitant (above the recommended WHO threshold of 10-15m2/capita). But Madrid has also been plagued by poor air quality for years due primarily to its high levels of traffic.

Madrid authorities believe the Metropolitan Forest could help to purify the air of polluting particles, reduce emmissions overall and act as a thermal regulator for the city by addressing the ‘urban heat island’ effect.

The project will also bring more green spaces to parts of Madrid where there’s currently a scarcity such as the south, in effect connecting the entire city through a green ring which will run around it.

Madrid City Council launched the contest for the mega-project’s conception, with an initial €4.1 million in EU funds to be granted to the chosen urban developer.

The total budget for the full 600 hectares of the Metropolitan Forest is expected to be €75 million.

The Metropolitan Forest is part of a plan known as Madrid 360º, a series of measures being introduced by the city’s government to improve air quality within the capital and meet the emission limits imposed by the European Commission. 

Madrid authorities hope that by the time of the project’s completion, which it estimates to be in 12 years, the Metropolitan Forest will have the capacity to absorb 170,000 tonnes of CO2.  

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.

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