Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by SEDEMA

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?

We decided to unite the city with nature, so we developed a Special Green Infrastructure Program (SGIP) that provides the city with adequate criteria and guidelines for incorporating and increasing accessibility to green areas and blue spaces (rivers, lakes, water channels and wetlands), with a focus on solutions based on nature and in accordance with the socio-environmental characteristics of the eight regions that were established:

  • North Urban Green Areas
  • Urban canyons
  • Urban Green Areas West Center
  • Urban Green Areas East Center
  • Wetlands
  • Eastern Urban Green Areas
  • Rural-Urban Transition
  • Natural Forests

The proportion of specimens per vegetal stratum that is necessary to achieve a better development of the plantations was technically defined. In the conservation land, a proportion of 85% of trees, 13% of shrubs and 2% of herbaceous and ground cover has been maintained, and a practically inverse proportion in urban land.

The planning of interventions is carried out considering the EGIP, the catalogue of species that was prepared in 2019 (based on the potential to generate pollination processes, strengthen soils, regulate climate and air quality, increase water infiltration, reduce hydrometeorological risks and resist the environmental conditions before anthropogenic activities) and the specific conditions of the site. On the conservation land, potential quadrants to be restored are identified considering:

  • Areas affected by forest fires that occurred in the previous three years
  • Vegetation zones generated by the National Institute of Statistical and Geographical Information
  • Spectral signatures of vegetation
How has the city exploited the potential of plants and associated ecosystems to deliver more than one benefit?

The Special Green Infrastructure Program for Mexico City (SGIP) establishes the planning and strategic design of the interventions considering the following criteria: environmental aspects (type of climate, average annual temperature and precipitation, types of soil, altitude interval, land use and vegetation, presence of natural protected areas and green areas in the city), social (number of inhabitants, area of green area per capita, habitability index), risks aspects (hydrometeorological, geological and chemical-technological) and the principles of connectivity, accessibility, functionality and resilience.

This condition has been reflected in the diversity of intervened spaces, allowing natural forests, natural protected areas, ravines, rivers, wetlands and natural ecosystems to generate multiple socio-environmental benefits such as reducing atmospheric pollutants, increasing aquifer recharge, reducing risks from flooding and landslides, and provide habitat for wildlife; while other spaces with nature, such as parks and urban green corridors, also offer more accessibility to public spaces, reduce the effect of heat islands and reduce flooding.

One concrete example: the intervention of 2.07 hectares in Mexico City Ecological Park included components with positive ecological impacts (revegetation of 5,574 m2 with native species), as well as others with social benefits (rehabilitation of two kilometers of cycle paths, 60 solar lights and the opening of four viewpoints, one guardhouse and two permeable parking lots), benefiting 62,400 annual visitors.

It’s possible to, simultaneously,  face the effects of climate change, counteract loss of biodiversity, promote urban resilience and contribute to well-being and the fulfillment of the human right to a healthy environment, water and public space.