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There is a bet to be made to save our cities from the fate of pollution and degradation into which they seem to have fallen. Against the unbreathable air that grips us in winter, the heat that suffocates us in summer, the water that floods houses and roads, we need more greenery: the expansion of urban parks, the renaturation of free or abandoned areas, the creation of ecological networks that bring back to the heart of the built environment those ecosystem functions without which any environmental policy is doomed, sooner or later, to failure.

Chicago

If we think of the services provided by vegetation, we can well understand the urgency of allocating every available space to it in the city: a tree sequester CO2, the gas responsible for climate change, filters atmospheric dust, retains rain, creates shade, coolness and forms barriers against noise; experts calculate that one hectare of forest is enough to compensate for the seven tonnes of climate-altering emissions that each of us produces each year while consuming energy. Certainly much can be done by assuming more sustainable lifestyles, but the artificiality of the contexts in which we live makes such efforts marginal without structural interventions on the urban mosaics: in addition to air recirculation, a densely vegetated area hosts biodiversity, absorbs three times as much rainfall as a built up area and makes it possible to reduce the temperature by up to ten degrees during the now torrid summer nights.

Italy, with its historical parks, is full of suggestions and opportunities to imagine a new urban landscape: if we really want to face the environmental issue, open the windows on a tree-lined avenue, enjoy a public garden near home, walk in the greenery, maybe along a waterway, until we reach the surrounding countryside must become the constants of contemporary living.

Sydney

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