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Vivaio Bicocca in Milan, Source: Universita degli Studi Milano-Bicocca

Milan’s Vivaio Bicocca: from green area to urban ecosystem

Milan’s Vivaio Bicocca: from green area to urban ecosystem

Authorities want to do away with the passive status of nature in the city

For the past two years, the City of Milan has been working to transform what used to be an abandoned plant nursery into a functional urban forest park, which will be attractive and meaningful to citizens. The place is called Vivaio Bicocca (vivaio being the Italian word for nursery), located on the University of Milan-Bicocca campus.

The idea arose from the observation that people tend to use urban green areas passively. They may walk through them or spend some time there but in general, remain uninformed and uninvolved in the natural surroundings.

Functional biodiversity

At the centre of the project will be, the so-called functional biodiversity concept - large trees but also shrubs and herbaceous species capable of attracting pollinators, birds and small mammals. The planners want to transform a green area into a truly resilient urban ecosystem, and they also want to help people understand it and get involved.

Soon Vivaio Bicocca will open to the city, to schools and students and to the inhabitants of the area. It will not only be a place for training and educational events to promote the protection of biodiversity but a laboratory of ideas that will be entrusted to over 33,000 students from the university for experimentation.

For starters, in ten sessions between May and June, citizens will be able to participate in open air lessons, ask botanic and zoology researchers for more information and deepen their knowledge of the ecosystems in Milan.

In particular, the participatory actions will involve the design of a biodiversity wall, a pollinator route and a biodiversity water mirror. The naturalistic redevelopment of the area and its return to local residents are the prerequisite for the nursery to become a place of permanent meeting, discussion and planning, an example of participatory care and management of the territory.

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