Within the Prato Urbact Jungle project, Legambiente developed the "Create Your Own Jungle" course, where during the classes, participants learnt how to create their own urban jungle, thus contributing to the development of increasingly green, healthy and resilient cities. They learnt about fundamental themes for growing their own jungle in the best possible way: from the theoretical fundamentals governing urban forestry interventions to the design of various types of gardens, as well as small, useful and ecological tips for green care and the analysis of some case studies.

The courses also allowed students to follow not only a theoretical but also a practical path, designed to provide useful insights and suggestions to the observation, understanding and care of our green spaces. 

Create your own Jungle course. Photo by City of Prato

"Create Your Jungle" course was composed of a series of five free meetings, of a duration of two hours each, where participants can learn how to create their own urban jungle. 

The first module of the course focused on the theoretical foundations behind urban ecosystems and natural ecosystems, where topics about ecosystem services, biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation were discussed in relation to how to reconcile city and nature. Based on the analysis of some specific data starting with the case study of Prato, participants discussed what nature-based solutions are, what is meant by urban forestation and renaturation.

The second module of the course addressed how to design a green space, analysing some types of green spaces, from historical gardens to natural gardens, utilitarian gardens, not forgetting green walls, green roofs, indoor environments. Participants delved into some parameters that can be tools with which to evaluate the effectiveness of a green design.

Watch a video on how to plant a plant

The third meeting looked at the key elements of green design: from species choice, to soil, to exposure. Here participants discussed water needs and water management, as well as how to consider the various types of vegetation: tall trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, analysing issues related to alien species, particularly invasives. The plant multiplication and the possible benefits of self-multiplication of plant material in our green spaces was also addressed. 

The fourth module, in which there was also a hands-on activity, addressed the fundamental topic of green space maintenance. Green space, being alive, must be followed over time with proper maintenance. Here the topics of pruning and management of waste material, mowing, irrigation, soil tillage, fertilisation, pathogen control were discussed. 

Watch a video on how to create an irrigation system

Create your own Jungle course. Photo by City of Prato

The fifth and final meeting, was also partly devoted to a practical activity, looking at some examples of green realisations, particularly those envisaged in the Prato Urban Jungle project, but also some realisations of both small and large scale taken from other cities. Participants spoke about cities that are considered virtuous with regard to the choices made in the area of urban green and what actions our cities can choose today to improve the quality and increase the presence of green in the city. Whilst the first edition took place online due to Covid-19 restrictions, the following two took place in person, involving more than 15 people each time in both theoretical and practical activities.

Create your own Jungle course. Photo by City of Prato

The importance of Crate your Jungle workshop is because such activities are highly relevant for environmental purposes  because gardening workshops have a direct impact on environmental conservation by promoting sustainable practices, local food production, biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and overall community resilience.

  1. Promoting Sustainable Practices: Gardening workshops can teach participants about sustainable gardening practices such as composting, water conservation, and organic pest control. These practices reduce the use of harmful chemicals, protect water sources, and promote biodiversity.

  2. Encouraging Local Food Production: By offering gardening workshops, individuals can learn how to grow their own food. This reduces dependence on industrial agriculture, lowers carbon emissions from transportation, and improves food security. Local food production also encourages the consumption of fresh and nutritious food.

  3. Conserving Biodiversity: Gardening workshops often focus on planting and nurturing native plants, which play a crucial role in supporting local biodiversity. By educating participants about the importance of native flora and fauna, the workshops contribute to the preservation of ecosystems and the protection of native species.

  4. Mitigating Climate Change: Gardens, especially those using sustainable practices, can act as carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By teaching participants how to create climate-friendly gardens with appropriate plant choices and carbon sequestration techniques, gardening workshops can contribute to climate change mitigation efforts.

  5. Creating Green and Resilient Communities: Gardening workshops foster a sense of community and connection with nature. They encourage individuals to engage with their surroundings, take responsibility for their environment, and contribute to greener and more resilient communities. This can lead to other positive environmental initiatives beyond gardening.

About this resource

Author
Daniela Patti, UIA Expert
Project
Location
Prato, Italy Small and medium-sized cities (50k > 250k)
About UIA
Urban Innovative Actions
Programme/Initiative
2014-2020

The Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is a European Union initiative that provided funding to urban areas across Europe to test new and unproven solutions to urban challenges. The initiative had a total ERDF budget of €372 million for 2014-2020.

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