Achieving a harmonious integration of the urban, rural and natural spheres into a continuous whole, avoiding landscape fragmentation … That is the real point.
In the late twentieth century it seemed as if the most modern and advanced cities were those that truly resembled asphalt, cement and glass jungles like those that featured in science-fiction films of the eighties such as Blade Runner. In other words, spaces totally disconnected from the countryside and its natural environment, where no trace of nature remained.
The new century has brought environmental concern to the forefront and cities have restored human beings to the place they always deserved. The individual is the core, the unit of measure or scale of cities, and his well-being is of the greatest importance.
The objective of today’s most advanced cities is that all citizens should have green belts close to their homes or workplaces to meet their recreational needs, ensure their enjoyment of nature and give them the possibility of taking walks, practicing sport, or simply relaxing.
In order to achieve this objective, the work carried out by experts in town-planning and territorial organisation is essential, for it ensures that new buildings and urban developments introduce measures that guarantee ‘naturalness,’ such as planting more trees, creating green belts and gardens, covering roofs and façades with green growth, and even popularising urban allotments. We should not forget that having peri-urban farmland available enables the development of proximity agriculture, setting up environment-friendly organic farming practices.
But it isn’t only a question of creating new spaces or of recovering and promoting existing or deteriorated green urban features. What we require today are links between these green spaces and natural peri-urban areas through soft connections or boulevards, preferably through non-motorised transportation systems. As a result, cities now have outer green belts—and new inner green belts are planned, like the one in Vitoria-Gasteiz—or the ecological corridors—like the one designed in Madrid’s new plan of urban organisation. Such areas are defined as green infrastructure, and the European Commission has drawn up a specific strategy to promote them at local, regional and continental levels.
In short, today we face the challenge of achieving a harmonious integration of the urban, rural and natural spheres into a continuous whole, avoiding landscape fragmentation and encouraging conservation of the biodiversity of ecosystems.