Authorities in Madrid are hoping to bring a bumper of greening benefits to the Spanish capital by building Europe's largest metropolitan forest in the city.

The forest, dubbed “El Bosque Metropolitano” (the Metropolitan Forest), will be the new green lung of Madrid with over 450,000 new trees and other vegetation. It's part of a plan known as Madrid 360º, a series of measures being introduced by the city's government to improve air quality within the capital and meet the emission limits imposed by the European Commission. 

The forest will stretch along a 75km environmental belt around Madrid's perimeters with new parks, children's zones, dog trails and hiking and biking routes for city-dwellers and tourists. The first trees will be planted in October and will include native species such as wild olive trees, strawberry trees, willow, ash, elm, as well as gorse, rosemary, thyme and juniper and other bushes and shrubs.

Madrid has an abundance of both natural and man-made green space. It's covered by 44.85% of green land and public parks like Casa de Campo, Parque del Buen Retiro and Madrid Río are incredibly popular with both locals and tourists. But the city has suffered from poor air quality for years with road traffic, particularly diesel vehicles, responsible for most of the high-risk emissions. 

People riding small boats at Parque del Buen Retiro
Parque del Buen Retiro ©Gilles Gaonach/Shutterstock

El Bosque Metropolitano is a long-term city project that will take about 12 years to complete. Once it reaches maturity, authorities predict the forest will absorb about 170,000 tons of carbon emissions, improve biodiversity, reduce noise pollution and act as a thermal regulator for the city.

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This article was first published July 2020 and updated July 2020

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