TCD to lead €12m smart city project to bring nature to concrete jungles

5 Jul 2017

Image: photosthai/Shutterstock

Trinity College Dublin is to lead a €12m EU project to transform concrete jungles into smart cities with an emphasis on nature.

Our population is expected to exponentially grow in the coming decades, particularly in cities, as people gravitate towards them for work opportunities.

The problem is that major hubs such as London are becoming increasingly difficult places to live, with high rates of pollution and limited amenities posing problems as cities struggle to keep up with these expanding populations.

Future Human

However, a new €12m EU research project led by a team from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is looking to help stem the effects of pollution by turning cities from concrete jungles into places with nature at their heart.

The ‘Connecting Nature’ project will see 37 organisations from 19 countries work together to establish Europe as a global leader in this area, with hopes to further investment in smart, ‘engineered’ nature-based solutions, designed to bring more natural processes to cities, landscapes and seascapes.

Green wall

A green wall typical of what the project is trying to develop. Image: Peter de Kievith

‘To achieve what no other Horizon 2020 project has before’

Such solutions are believed to offer the best hope of tackling many of the greatest challenges, particularly rapid urbanisation and its damage to the ecosystem.

To help remedy this, the TCD team and international partners will examine how cities could include urban woodlands, wetlands, extensive roof gardens, green walls and green corridors, lined by trees and plants that support wildlife.

They will also determine the possibility of creating networks of gardens and allotments that boost urban food production; parks for recreation; and temporary, floodable habitats that reduce the danger posed by flash floods.

Leading the project is Dr Marcus Collier, assistant professor in botany at TCD’s School of Natural Sciences, who said: “Connecting Nature will attempt to achieve what no other Horizon 2020 project has before. It will co-create city-wide masterplans to scale out nature-based solutions and generate funding for them. This is not just about building climate resilience – it is about transforming cities for future generations.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic