Urban Gardens Everywhere
Despite the well-known and widespread benefits of greenery, many cities have struggled to increase vegetation in their urban environments. Paris, which is consistently lauded for its beauty, is no exception. With 14.5m² per inhabitant, it has the lowest share of green space per capita of any major city in Europe. Legislation passed in July aims to change that, however (most thorough description, in French). The new law, which does not allow for pesticides, enables all Paris residents to apply for permits for urban gardens in public spaces (yes, including streets) throughout the city. A permit also includes top soil and seeds, with aim of promoting local vegetation and biodiversity. Applications will be processed within a month, and will be good for three years. The urban gardens are part of a larger commitment made by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to add 100 hectares of green space to the city by 2020. Beyond planters and pots, the city is encouraging green walls and green roofs as well. Green roofs offer numerous benefits, but can also create new building challenges. This initiative comes on the heels of a national green and solar roof proposal in France, which was widely reported, but that failed to become law. In contrast, Paris’ urban garden effort appears to now be implemented. Beyond the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of greenery, public actors and the private stakeholder who work with them, will have an additional incentive to add greenery when COP 21 comes into force on November 4, 2016.