9 Methods to Increase Green Cover in Urban Areas

If you live in a city, you might be used to seeing more buildings than trees. Due to the explosive increase in population and the consequent need for more urban infrastructure, these cities continue to expand. This can result in the conversion of green spaces and natural habitats into concrete jungles.

While it is impossible for cities to go back to the way it was before rapid development, it is possible to incorporate green cover to the urban landscape itself. This not only increases its natural beauty but also contributes to reduced air pollution and lower temperatures in urban areas.

Ways to Increase Green Cover in Urban Spaces

  1. Miyawaki foresting
  2. Green roofs
  3. Vertical gardens
  4. Urban reforestation
  5. Green bridges and tunnels
  6. Pocket parks
  7. Green screens
  8. Street furniture with planters
  9. Planting in unused spaces

1. Miyawaki Foresting

This technique involves planting a variety of native tree species closely together in a small area. It's designed to mimic natural forests by encouraging the 'survival of the fittest' agenda and making the plants fight for sunlight, water and nutrients. This enables rapid forest growth and biodiversity than usual since plants are forced to grow faster and taller than usual.

Afforestt Project, India

Miyawaki Forest by Afforestt Project
Miyawaki Forest by Afforestt Project

In response to the rapid urbanization and deforestation, Shubhendu Sharma, inspired by the work of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, founded the Afforestt project. The project's goal was to create urban forests using the Miyawaki method. Native trees and shrubs were selected based on the specific location's soil and climate conditions, ensuring that the forest would be resilient and adapted to the local environment.

2. Green Roofs

One way to counter lack of green cover due to limited space on the ground is by installing vegetation on rooftops. This not only helps reduce the urban heat island effect but also provides insulation, reduces stormwater runoff, and improves air quality.

The Greening of Singapore

Green Roofing at Singapore
Green Roofing at Singapore

Singapore has implemented a comprehensive plan to increase green cover, including the creation of numerous rooftop gardens, sky parks, and extensive tree planting. The city-state also promotes vertical greenery on buildings and is a pioneer in using innovative techniques for urban greening.

3. Vertical Gardens

Vertical gardens or green walls are gardens and plantations constructed on the sides of buildings or structures to create a visually appealing and environmentally friendly fa├žade. This also provides additional benefits to the building like air filtering and insulation.

Bosco Verticale, Milan

Vertical Gardens at Bosco Verticale, Milan
Vertical Gardens at Bosco Verticale, Milan

Bosco Verticale is a pair of residential towers covered in a total of over 2,000 trees and shrubs. These vertical forests help combat air pollution, reduce energy consumption, and provide a unique aesthetic to the city's skyline.

4. Urban Reforestation

Urban reforestation involves planting trees in urban areas, parks, and along streets to increase tree canopy coverage, which can help combat air pollution and provide shade.

Medellin's Green Corridors, Colombia

Urban Reforestation at Medellin's Green Corridors, Columbia
Urban Reforestation at Medellin's Green Corridors, Columbia

Medellin transformed its urban infrastructure by creating green corridors along riverbanks and highways. These corridors are lush with vegetation, providing not only green cover but also recreational spaces and improved air quality.

5. Green Bridges and Tunnels

Green bridges and tunnels are green infrastructure connections for wildlife to move safely through urban areas, such as green bridges for animals to cross highways.

Ecoduct De Woeste Hoeve, Netherlands

Green Bridges and Tunnels at Ecoduct De Woeste Hoeve, Netherlands
Green Bridges and Tunnels at Ecoduct De Woeste Hoeve, Netherlands

The Netherlands is known for its extensive network of highways and railroads. However, these infrastructure developments often fragment natural habitats and disrupt wildlife migration routes. In response, the Dutch government initiated the construction of wildlife bridges, to provide safe passages for animals across major roads and railways.

6. Pocket Parks

Pocket parks are small, neighborhood-based green spaces that have been converted from vacant lots or unused areas to provide a quick escape to nature for urban dwellers.

The Lowline, New York City

Pocket Parks at the Lowline, New York City
Pocket Parks at the Lowline, New York City

The Lowline is an innovative project that aims to create an underground park in an abandoned trolley station. Using solar technology to channel sunlight underground, the park will support plants and trees, providing a unique subterranean green space in the heart of the city.

7. Green Screens

Installing vertical trellises with climbing plants along building facades or fences to add greenery and reduce visual and noise pollution.

One Central Park, Sydney

Green Screens at One Central Park, Sydney
Green Screens at One Central Park, Sydney

One Central Park is a mixed-use development featuring vertical gardens on its facade with a variety of plant species that climb and cover the walls. The green screens consist of trellises or lattice structures installed on the building's balconies and terraces, allowing plants to grow vertically and create a lush, green appearance.

8. Street Furniture with Planters

This method involves ncorporating planters into benches, bus stops, and other street furniture to bring greenery to urban sidewalks and plazas.

San Francisco Parklets, USA

Street Furniture Planters at San Francisco Parklets, USA
Street Furniture Planters at San Francisco Parklets, USA

The city of San Francisco launched the Parklet program, which aimed to transform sections of street parking into public mini-parks with seating, greenery, and street furniture with planters. Each parklet is uniquely designed to fit the character of its neighborhood.

9. Planting in Unused Spaces

This method involves identifying and converting underutilized spaces like medians, traffic islands, and vacant lots into green areas.

The High Line, New York City, USA

Planting on old Railway Track at the High Line, New York City, USA
Planting on old Railway Track at the High Line, New York City, USA

The High Line is a remarkable example of urban green space creation. It's an elevated railway track that was transformed into a linear park with a variety of plantings, including native grasses, perennials, and trees. This project not only added greenery to a densely populated area but also became a popular tourist attraction and a model for repurposing urban infrastructure.

9 Methods to Increase Green Cover in Urban Areas