The city reaps the fruits of the urban forests that are being born in the road interchanges

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Porto became a little greener on Tuesday morning with the planting of over a thousand native trees and shrubs during new interventions in the Biospots network, in the Regado and Francos interchanges. Having been started some years ago, the initiative is now bearing fruit in the fight against climate change and decarbonization.

The metaphor also has a literal and precise translation in the strawberry tree fruit liqueur that the vice-president of the Porto City Hall, Filipe Araújo, was able to taste at the Regado interchange, near the VCI: “We now have Strawberry Trees here, which is new on the motorways in Porto. We have already planted about 3000 trees on the motorway interchanges, specifically here on the VCI. Our goal is for them to become large urban forests. Today, it was very pleasant to see that the trees we planted five years ago are almost twice my height, that is, they are already big trees, and they will continue to be big trees”, he boasted.

“This is a fantastic project that we have called Native Urban Forests, and we have several initiatives underway. This one, Biospots, is just one of them, and we have a collaboration with Infraestruturas de Portugal and CRE.Porto (Regional Centre of Excellence in Education for Sustainable Development of the Porto Metropolitan Area, a work network made up of the Metropolitan Area of Porto and all 17 municipalities in the region and coordinated by the Portuguese Catholic University)”, added the head of Environment and Climate Transition.

The outcome “is very positive,” said Filipe Araújo, crediting the “great team that helps develop this city's afforestation project”. “It is a work we do with several people who collaborate in a team that has landscape architects, biologists... There is a monitoring of the trees that we have been planting. This project is not just about planting trees. It is about seeing a very difficult territory – we have no irrigation here – it is a highway territory and we want them to become spaces for carbon capture, for the promotion of biodiversity”, he explained.

“Today, we know very well which species are best adapted to the territory; this has been tested. We are currently replanting trees that did not survive, and we are adding new species or taking advantage of species that we had already used. It is scientific work that is very important for the city. These thousands of trees that we are planting in the city are absolutely essential to combat climate change and for decarbonization,” concluded the vice-president of the Porto City Hall, before moving from words to actions and, with a hoe in hand, planting some of the new trees of the Regado interchange.

In total, 1089 more trees and native shrubs of 15 different species were planted – common hawthorn, hazelnut tree, strawberry tree, butcher's-broom, and European crab apple are some of them – adapted to the characteristics of the place and grown by the technical team with the contribution of volunteers at the Porto Municipal Nursery. At the end of the interventions, the Regado and Francos interchanges will have a total of 1849 trees.

The Porto Biospot network consists of a useful area of 17 hectares that are distributed along the main circulation axes of the Via de Cintura Interna (the main bypass in the city). So far, six areas have been included: Regado, Francos, Freixo, Areais, Falcão, and Areias.

The initiative is part of FUN Porto – Porto's Native Urban Forests, a project that promotes knowledge about, and the expansion of, urban forests in Porto, with its various branches: the Nursery of Trees and Native Shrubs, the Porto Biospots network, the programme If you have a garden, we have a tree for you, and the Porto Tree Route. It also contributes to the goals of the Future – 100,000 trees project in the Porto Metropolitan Area.