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Friday, July 12, 2024

Costa Rica Depaves to Make Way for Green Spaces

Costa Rica’s Municipality of San Rafael de Heredia seeks to reduce the paved areas to make room for trees, thereby creating a more natural space. The municipality, in alliance with Transition to a Green Urban Economy (TEVU), is carrying out a project in the surroundings of the San Rafael church where machinery is working to remove blocks of pavement and make space to plant 39 trees and small vegetation.

The trees to be planted have an average height of 1.5 to 2 meters, and it is expected that these trees will grow to 8 meters in a period of 5 years. This type of project is also expected to be carried out in downtown San José, near the Children’s Museum, as well as in Alajuela and Oreamuno de Cartago.

“It is a milestone that implies a reevaluation of the urban environment. Depaving is liberating the land, replacing concrete and asphalt urban structures with natural elements,” explained Fernando Rodriguez of TEVU. The idea of replacing concrete and asphalt with natural elements such as plants and soil helps reduce heat in cities and mitigate the risk of flooding, experts say.

“It helps rainwater infiltration, which reduces the risk of flooding, especially in highly paved areas. In addition, adding vegetation reduces the effect of heat islands generated by urban paving,” commented Sofia Richmond, an architect at TEVU.

Another important benefit is that the introduction of native trees promotes biodiversity and strengthens ecological connections. In Costa Rica and the rest of the world, temperatures have risen dramatically, especially in the summer. These initiatives seek to make cities more livable, benefiting the environment and people. The strategic placement of trees in cities can help cool the air by 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, according to the United Nations (UN).

Similarly, large trees are excellent filters for urban pollutants and fine particles such as dust, dirt, or smoke. These initiatives also seek to improve the physical and mental health of those who live in the city, as nature lowers blood pressure and stress, and it has already been proven that green spaces, like blue spaces, provide multiple physical benefits.

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