Growing a healthy city

20 April 2015

There’s a lot to be said for urban–nature connections in Wellington, especially considering the important role nature plays in improving our quality of life.

Frank Kitts Lagoon and green terraces.

The Lagoon beside Frank Kitts Park

Nature is visible throughout our urban environment – in the city’s architecture, open spaces, installations, and naturally occurring forms like the ocean and our forests.

An effective way to keep our city healthy and feeling alive is to plant trees – especially those that can also sustain our native birds such as kererū, the New Zealand pigeon. Kererū are a threatened species and without them the seeds from our native trees with larger fruits wouldn’t be dispersed – a disaster for the regeneration of our forests. To attract and help sustain kererū, consider planting trees such as kowhai and flax for nectar and wineberry and karamu for fruit.

Planting trees isn’t the only way to incorporate nature into our city’s design thanks to a movement of living architecture sweeping across the city. From Civic Square’s living wall to Frank Kitts Park’s green terraces and rock pools in the lagoon, Wellington is bringing more biodiversity into built-up spaces. By investing in “greening up” spaces, such as the upgraded park/play area outside Victoria University’s School of Architecture and Design, the look and feel of the building and space is improved, the air is cleaner, rainwater is soaked up and there’s less graffiti.

In order to sustain our “living city”, it’s essential to motivate younger people to take an interest in their own city’s biodiversity – a purpose of the Enviroschools Foundation. Eighty-two Wellington schools are registered, and they’re aiming to connect children with their environment, increase their understanding of nature, and give them confidence that their actions make a difference. The programme focusses on waste, energy, eco-building, living landscapes, and water.

When we created the Our Living City project we established three goals: to grow and enjoy our natural capital, to transform our economy and reduce impact, and to show leadership.

Our priorities reflect these goals, so that our projects are carried out in a way that protects and develops our biodiversity, promotes green technologies and services, and encourages community action.