Tihomira Metodieva - Bio-gradina Vitosha

Tihomira Metodieva – Bio-gradina Vitosha

Local governments are key actors in local spatial planning, green spaces development and management. Using Green Infrastructure can largely improve social aspects, such as health, leisure and community life, provide jobs and increase revenues for local businesses and authorities. Property prices increase by 5-7% if they overlook a garden or park. Moreover, Green Infrastructure mitigates heat waves, reduces water run-off, prevents floods, and reduces climate change effects. Investing in Green Infrastructure (for which generous financial support exists at both EU and national level) is a win-win solution and can largely support your re-election – everybody loves green!


Click on the titles to learn more about each case

Construction companies for saving birds and bats



Location: Slovakia

Area covered:

Background: Almost 100% of Common Swift in Slovakia breeds in buildings. Over the last two decades, Swifts population dropped with 50-60%. Tens of thousands of bats use buildings as a roosting site. Nonetheless, species and habitats protection were not taken into account during the planning and construction work, thus conflicts between nature conservationists and companies emerged.

Project duration: 2012-2015

Project Description: The Life project is called: Protection of Common Swift (Apus apus) and bats in buildings in Slovakia. Aim was to build partnerships with companies to conserve bat and bird species in Slovakia.

Project activities:

  • Mapping and monitoring of species in buildings (over 3300 Swift sites, over 2000 bat roosting sites in 191 cities). The results were provided to construction companies.
  • Intensive communication with construction companies (about 450), via personal meetings.
  • Workshops on existing technical measures, assistance to construction companies in implementation of measures
  • Intensive media campaign

Project results: over 5500 existing nesting and roosting sites preserved also after reconstruction and thermal insulation of buildings; over 4000 new nesting and roosting sites created through installation of special boxes for birds and bats.

Community, economic and environmental benefits:

Funding: European Commission through LIFE+ Programme, Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic

Future plans:


An urban renewal



Location: Sweden, Ekostaden Augustenborg

Description: 10,000 m2 ofgreen roofs installed; an open stormwater system; attractive green spaces built

Benefits: rainwater runoff rates decreased by half; residents’ significant energy saving; biodiversity increased by half; image of the area improved; unemployment has fallen from 30% to 6 %

Costs: 22 million euros

Background info: The residential area was built in the 1950s but soon fell into disrepute. The urban renewal project not just addressed the built environment but also the social conditions of the people.            


Floating houses to fight climate change in the Netherlands

Dutch urban floating houses (Source:

Dutch urban floating houses (Source:

Description: The Netherlands implementing climate adaptation measures and building floating houses that are resistant to rising sea level and increase rainfall. 43 such homes were developed in the Steigereiland district in east Amsterdam. The Living with Water civil planning strategy involves re-flooding of formerly diked marshes, bringing defunct canals back into use, building catchment lakes, deepening rivers, moving dikes away river edges and redirecting rivers where necessary. 39 projects in river areas are currently being executed within the country’s flood protection program.

Cost of the program: 2.3 billion euros (39 projects)


Nicosia, Cyprus – a city for both nature and people



Description: Athalassa National Forest (840 hectares large) is a park next to Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. It encompasses several lakes, nature trails, bicycle paths, a botanical garden and an environmental education centre. The lakes provide a habitat to many animals – bird, insect and amphibian species. The park has a very diverse flora and fauna (173 bird species, 7 mammals, 6 reptiles, one amphibian and several butterflies). The park is a good example of implementing green infrastructure in urban areas, of combining biodiversity conservation with tourism and recreation.


Harku’s municipality’s spatial plan



Location: Estonia, Harku

Description: Establishment of a green network.

Function: Strongly protecting the green network areas from any other development plans. All developments that might harm the green network (like building of roads or houses) are excluded from the planning document.

Environmental and Social benefit: Pollination, carbon storage, air quality, accessibility of exercise, noise regulation, scenery, living environmental quality.

Background: The establishment of a green network was based on a special study on green network elements and corridors made by Estonian Fund for Nature in 2007.

Sources of Funding: Municipality government, Environmental Investment Centre

Blue-Green Network Łódź



Location: Poland, Łódź

Achievement of the project:

  • A sustainable use of water resources and conservation of green elements in urban area with a multi-stakeholder cooperation.
  • A complete, innovative development plan of river valleys and water management in the city, having ecohydrology as its integral component.
  • Łódź becoming a Blue-Green City.

Works done:

  • Reconstruction of cascade reservoirs
  • A multi-Sequential System Sediment – Biofiltration
  • Rehabilitation of the river valley (restoration of the river meanders, restoration of wetlands)

Ecological, Economical and Social benefits: Improvements in hydraulic communication between the river and the valley, of the microclimate and the vegetation. Re-naturalization of the rivers, healthier populations, increased water filtration and water storage capacity, flood mitigation, noise regulation, health benefits, increased physical activity.

Function: Harmonize the functions of urban rivers with ecohydrologic ones, designed to restore the valley of the potential for self-regulation.

Background: As a result of rapid development of industry in the nineteenth century, most of the rivers have been channelized and integrated into the sewage system.

Sources of Funding: EU Project SWITCH, Grant of the City of Łódź Mayor , European Fund of Regional Development

Green Roof atop the Warsaw University Library

Green Roof in WarsawBackground: The Warsaw University Library built a green roof to improve temperature control inside the building, enhance local water storage capacity and local air quality as well as to promote a positive image of the University and provide an area for exercise and relaxation for students.

Location: Warsaw, Poland, city-centre

Ecosystem services enhanced: ecosystem connectivity, photosynthesis, primary production, biogeochemical cycles (nitrogen, carbon, sulphur, phosphorus etc.), hydrological cycle, purification of air and water, pollination

Social functions: recreation, tourism, aesthetic, educational, cultural, intellectual, spiritual, relaxation, community, sense of place

Jobs created: 1 permanent (gardening), temporary: designer and garden construction company

Wildlife Bridge for Bears

Source: Bulgarian Biodiversity Program

Source: Bulgarian Biodiversity Program

Description: A wildlife bridge and amphibian tunnels were constructed

Location: Trakaya and Stara Zagora highways in the region of checkpoint Gotse Delchev between Bulgaria and Greece

Function:  The bridge lies outside of Natura 2000 sites but within a migratory ecological corridor. It will ensure connectivity between the populations of large mammals in the Orvilos/Slavyanka and South Pirin/Western Rhodopes mountain ranges.

Funding source: ‘Transport’ Operational program for highway infrastructure

Glasgow, UK – Park recreation as a new tool for boosting economy

Dániel_Szabó_Village guardGlasgow Green is a park in the city centre of more than 50 hectares in surface. However, since the 1990’s the state of the park has continuously deteriorated. As a result, the city council of Glasgow initiated a £15.5 million park improvement project called “Glasgow Green Renewal”. The investment resulted in 47% increase in Council Tax revenue, 28% increase in the number of employees and 230 jobs supported and maintained. The project generated approximately £8 million in terms of wages. This meant a 28% increase in jobs in the period 1998-2006, whereas in the other parts of the city, this number was only 13% for the same period. At the same time, improvement of the city’s parks increased the attractiveness of the surrounding area, leading to additional council tax revenue of between £800,000 and 2 million. In addition, the extension and improvement of green areas contributed to health and productivity of the citizens, and provided other services including climate cooling and rainwater retention.


Report on Socio-Economic Benefits of Wetland Restoration in Central and Eastern Europe

Nature works for regions. Inspiring examples of good practice

Planning for a Healthy Environment

Green Infrastructure and territorial cohesion

The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits

Effectiveness of Space Use as a Key Factor for Biodiversity Conservation

Towards a Green Infrastructure for Europe

Green Infrastructure in the UK: Ecosystems Knowledge Network

Urban sprawl in Europe – The ignored challenge.

Green Roof Analysis in Toronto

Storm Water Case Studies

Local Governments for Sustainability ICLEI Network