Vitoria-Gasteiz increases its green area, biodiversity and ecosystem services by applying Nature-Based Solutions


Vitoria-Gasteiz has increased its green and permeable surface, its biodiversity and improved its ecosystem services. This has been achieved by applying Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), i.e. actions that are built on ecosystems and the services they provide to respond to various societal challenges such as climate change. These actions, which are part of the Urban Green Infrastructure Strategy for Vitoria-Gasteiz, are part of the LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 project.

The Environmental Studies Centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council, in collaboration with Tecnalia – the entity leading action C.4.1 – has drawn up an NBS catalogue based on the actions carried out. This is the first of the actions in the ‘C.4.1 Nature-based solutions and their co-benefits’ project for testing pilot actions in the local urban environment, which is part of the LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 project. The aim of this action is to support Basque municipalities to select, design and implement NBS through innovative tools and methodologies.

Actions in urban and peri-urban parks, residential plots and streams

This catalogue contains the 79 actions that have been carried out in urban and peri-urban parks, streets, squares, streams, and less conventional spaces such as vacant buildings and plots, over a total area of 440 hectares. 61% of the NBS have been aimed at increasing biodiversity and ecological connectivity; the rest have been targeted at optimising water management, improving soil fertility, making buildings and squares green again, and bringing nature closer to citizens.

Approximately 22% of the NBS have been aimed at naturalising and revegetating road spaces and environments, such as central reservations, roundabouts, car parks, streets and industrial edges to create green corridors, which increase ecological connectivity, the CO2 sink effect and improve the environmental and landscape quality of their surroundings.

It is worth highlighting the large number of actions (20%) carried out on residential, equipment and tertiary plots, which became vacant as a result of the city’s urban expansion in recent years. Urban woodlands, vegetable gardens, edible forest gardens, naturalised play areas, etc. have been installed on these plots, which are giving a transitory use to these spaces that were causing major social and urban development problems.

There are 17 urban parks in which work has been carried out, covering a surface area of approximately 45 hectares, to create new ecological niches and to test naturalised management methods that promote biodiversity, more in line with those practised in the Green Belt.

With regard to peri-urban parks, the catalogue lists 16 of the main actions that have been undertaken in the Green Belt to recover degraded ecosystems and improve public use. Future actions have also been included, such as the development of Larragorri Park, which aim to consolidate and close off this space to the south.

Of the total number of actions carried out in the peri-urban area, 7 affect protected areas of the Natura 2000 Network (Zadorra, Salburua and Robledales Isla de la Llanada Alavesa), and are mainly aimed at improving their state of conservation.

Also noteworthy are the 10 actions carried out on the streams that enter the city, to increase their role as ecological corridors and improve their hydrological function, preventing flooding and restoring their natural dynamics. The actions carried out on the River Zadorra (as part of the Plan for the hydraulic adaptation and environmental restoration of the river) and the future Larragorri basins, as a relief system for the water in the River Batán and River Zapardiel and prevent flooding in the south of the city, stand out for their importance.

8 green urban acupuncture actions have also been undertaken to improve the aesthetic and environmental quality of small urban spaces, such as buildings, small squares and other wastelands. The introduction of vegetation into these places helps to aerate the urban fabric, brings freshness and beauty, and encourages rest and social interaction.