VITORIA GASTEIZ, EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL

Parks of Vitoria

Spanish regional capital Vitoria-Gasteiz and the French city of Nantes have been named as winners of the European Green Capital award for 2012 and 2013. The awards were presented by EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik at a ceremony in Stockholm, European Green Capital for 2010.

Vitoria-Gasteiz – winner 2012
Vitoria-Gasteiz, a regional capital of northern Spain, has made great progress in greening a traditional urban environment. The “Green Belt”, a semi-natural green area partially reclaimed from degraded areas, surrounds the centre, ensuring its entire population of almost a quarter of a million people lives within 300 metres of an open green space. Numerous measures are in place to assist and increase biodiversity and ecosystem services. Flora and fauna are monitored and habitat fragmentation is reduced wherever possible.

The city is successfully coping with water scarcity and has steadily decreased its water consumption over the last decade. Many water related investments have been made to improve water supply and quality, reduce losses, and work towards sustainable consumption. Vitoria-Gasteiz has an ambitious objective of reducing domestic water consumption to below 100 litres per capita per day.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, founded in 1181, is second in size only to Bilbao in the Basque Country, and has some 240,000 people currently inhabiting this gem in northern Spain. Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Álava province and of the Basque Country.

Nature brought into the city
Vitoria-Gasteiz is comprised of concentric circles, with the city itself at centre. The “Green Belt”, a semi-natural green area partially reclaimed from degraded areas, surrounds the centre and brings nature into the city. The third circle is dominated by forestry and mountains.

The city has a high proportion of green public areas, ensuring that the entire population lives within 300m of an open green space. Numerous tangible measures are in place to assist and increase biodiversity and ecosystems services.
Flora and fauna are monitored, habitat fragmentation is reduced wherever possible, and measures have been introduced to decrease light pollution. Besides being recreational areas and natural habitats for plant and animal life, the green areas also have an educational purpose: the community gardens, for example, enable the population to study horticulture at close range.

Deers in Salburua, Vitoria

Managing water scarcity
Vitoria-Gasteiz has an ambitious objective of reducing domestic water consumption to below 100 litres per capita per day. Already today, water consumption has decreased steadily from 1999 to 2009. Water-related investments have been made within the context of the Agenda 21 environmental action plan for improved water supply, to reduce losses, work towards sustainable consumption and improve water quality. A citizen’s information office on water consumption and efficiency has also been set up.

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