Urban naturalization is an ecological-adaptive management tool aimed at facilitating the succession of natural processes and promoting the generation of ecosystem services offered by green infrastructure.
Naturalizing cities implies a paradigm shift that is based both on the development of new types of green spaces and on the reconsideration of farming practices (towards more sustainable and less toxic systems). These changes promote the strengths for a resilient urbanity through a categorical transformation that implies the development of a multifunctional landscape.
This “new” urban landscape calls for the growth of urban forests, the cultivation of grasslands and vegetated walls, the installation of sustainable drainage systems and islands of biodiversity or naturalized ponds; as efficient resources to replace connectivity networks and strengthen diverse habitats; of proven positive effects for the quality of life in cities.
These new biological scenarios reconsider the aesthetics of the traditional landscape of trimmed hedges or short meadows through meadows or shrubs that complete all their natural cycles (they are born, grow, flower, sow and dry), so their perception requires a certain re-education of the urbanist gaze.
For this reason, it is important to clarify that naturalizing is not about turning the city into a wild space or “greening” it with projects with a “wild aspect”, on the contrary, naturalizing is a process that is founded on Solutions based on Nature. It proposes the development of very diverse resources, both to favor biodiversity or the regulation of extreme climatic effects, as well as to strengthen the physical and mental health of citizens.
Diversifying the plant profile is one of the keys to conserving and increasing biodiversity, and this includes planned plantations and wild herbs. Adapted plant communities contribute to preserving local identity, reduce the need for maintenance resources, protect the soil and generate multiple interactions with local fauna.
Other naturalization strategies refer to the rethinking of buildings in public spaces, where it is necessary to design more absorbent surfaces, with less reflective materials; replacing the sterile cements or plastics, by local or recycled materials.
At all urban scales, the naturalization process has available spaces, both in parks and tree pits on green streets, gardens, balconies or terraces; we have the opportunity to create efficient micro-habitats to generate reservoirs for numerous fauna and flora with whom we can coexist in a harmonious and balanced manner.
Naturalizing cities may seem like a utopia, but today it is a necessity.