Vertical forests are becoming a new worldwide trend in cities
Towards the end of last year, the BBC’s Planet Earth II came to an astonishing end. In its last episode, Cities, we were shown how some species thrive within new urban environments, and how others struggle to adjust to a human-centred environment. But the program also showed some drastic steps cities around the globe have been taking to help nature thrive alongside us.
‘Gardens by the Bay’, in Singapore, shown above, is a 101-hectre garden built to help nature and wildlife gain a foothold in an urban environment. Many species of birds and insects were recorded thriving because of the amazing, environment-friendly structures. Singapore holds the record for the highest biodiversity of any city worldwide. The Gardens also feature a flower dome and a cloud forest conservatory (shown below) which similarly lend a helping hand plants wildlife in an environment where they all too often struggle to survive.
The ultimate episode of Planet Earth II also featured the ‘vertical forest’ project in Milan. Architect Stefano Boeri successfully transformed 40,000 square metres of residential towers into an urban forest which encourages wildlife, particularly bird species, and provides them with shelter and potential nesting grounds. Boeri’s website described Milan’s vertical forest as “a model for a sustainable residential building, a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory”. The forest also helps to increase the density of nature within the city, and helps to combat the emissions of greenhouse gasses.
But these amazing structures don’t stop here. Boeri’s website details plans for two vertical forest buildings in China, the world leader for greenhouse emissions. The website also shows a massive project to create an entire ‘Forest City’ in China. Shijiazhuang city has the highest rate of air pollution, but turning it into a green forest city could change that. The successful projects in Milan and Singapore are living proof of the positive impact of vertical forests in urban areas.
These amazing, fresh takes on the idea of the ‘urban jungle’ are helping repair our damage to habitats, plants and wildlife. If other countries around the world take a leaf out of Boeri’s eco-friendly book, the world could soon be a much greener place, in which both humanity and the natural world may thrive side by side.