Fortaleza, Brazil

Photo by José Leon

The power of plants and natural ecosystems to deliver benefits

How is the initiative shaped by scientific evidence of the potential for plants and natural ecosystems to deliver benefits?

Outdoor spaces have been, since the beginning of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic until today, identified by the scientific community as low-risk and strategic sites in the safe return to community life. In the context of Fortaleza, where access to public recreational areas is restricted and unequal, the Urban Micro Parks have become a low-cost and fast deployment alternative to expand this offer in more vulnerable areas with high population density.

The uses provided at the natural spaces of Urban Micro Parks have as their main focus the child development, through the exercise of playing in nature still in the 1st childhood, and the contact between children and caregivers. This contact with nature is beneficial not only for children, but for the community, considering the worsening of anxiety and other mental disorders due to isolation in the COVID-19 pandemic.

As it is located close to public facilities, the project integrates with the public services offered. For example, the proximity to an Eco point, facility equipped for the disposal of recyclable and construction waste recently inaugurated, and the environmental awareness campaigns carried out by the city in the local community, encouraged the population to give the correct destination to the waste, maintaining the area clean. Moreover, the proximity to a Public School, encouraged the school body to develop outdoor learning activities in the Micro Park, which offers adequate spaces for gathering for this purpose.

How has the city exploited the potential of plants and associated ecosystems to deliver more than one benefit?

The Micro Urban Park project addresses several public policies:

Urban Regeneration, using existing public space maintenance contracts, a new quality green space is created for leisure, meeting and contact with nature Environment, with the use of pruned wood, which was previously sent to the landfill, green spaces have a new use, discouraging bad attitudes of the population such as littering, crimes, irregular occupation. It also creates a natural space with better air quality, fruit trees, and allowing low-income communities to have access to nature.
Community Life, an important part of the project is the engagement and participation of the local community, which is involved from the beginning in the design of the project until the launch of the intervention and afterwards. In the end, the Urban Micro Park is under the responsibility of a management council, assembled by the residents of the area, who take care, organize the use of the space, and have a direct channel with the Municipality.

Education and Early Childhood, by promoting outdoor learning and contact with natural elements, essential for proper child development.