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The Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, overflowing with trees

Vienna wins City of Trees award for adaptability and innovation in fighting climate change

Vienna wins City of Trees award for adaptability and innovation in fighting climate change

The award came from the European Arboricultural Council and it aims to honour local authorities and their sustainable practices for urban greenery

Today, Vienna received the European City of Trees award (ECOT) from the European Arboricultural Council, acknowledging the Austrian capital as a model for care in the domain of urban greenery. The Arboricultural Council also pointed to the city’s innovative knowledge-based approach for the improved adaptability of the urban environment in the face of climate change. They also held up Vienna as an outstanding example of good practices that other European cities can emulate.

A city of trees

The Vienna City Gardens department has a comprehensive package of measures to care for the city’s more than 500,000 trees. These include running an urban nursery, planting a biodiverse set of trees, centralised tree care teams, specialised young tree care and a strict tree protection law.

Another contributing factor to Vienna’s sustainable urban greenery policy is the innovative ‘sponge city’ concept. Tree soil in cities is scarce and highly compacted, with little oxygen and access to water. ‘Sponge city’ essentially means dedicating soil specifically for tree roots and diverting rainwater to them, rather than the sewer system.

This fixes multiple problems at once, like:

  • Rainwater retention, evaporation and infiltration;
  • Cooling effect due to evaporation;
  • Strengthening the urban greenery;
  • Carbon capture in the trees themselves;
  • Biodiversity – trees as habitats;
  • Better quality of life through more green spaces.

Urban trees are in a constant state of stress due to their interaction with streets, structures and vehicles, so Vienna City Gardens had to come up with an alternative for regular soil that can help provide more nutrients.

This is the Vienna tree substrate - a scientifically sound medium that can positively affect roots in an urban environment. The substrate consists of organic and mineral substances that guarantee improved water storage capacity and good ventilation.

City Councillor for Climate Jürgen Czernohorszky was quoted in a press release, saying: “The city gardeners make an important contribution every day to ensure that Vienna is the most liveable city in the world. To ensure that this remains the case in view of the effects of the climate crisis, our experts have taken innovative measures to make our urban trees climate-friendly. The sponge city principle, with which the city gardens create the best conditions for healthy and vital trees, is of particular importance."

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