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Tree-planting and citizen mobilisation: Las Rozas case

Las Rozas (Madrid) is a fast-growing medium-sized city with around 100,000 inhabitants. It faces a lot of pressure on its green infrastructure due to increasing demand for housing, offices, roads, etc. It is also trying to deal with the negative effects of climate change, particularly extended periods of drought and less frequent but more intense rainfall. The city council and its mayor are particularly interested in mobilising citizens to become aware of the challenges the city is facing and how they can contribute to making Las Rozas more liveable.

With Life Terra, we organised the only tree-planting event for the COP25 Madrid climate conference, that took place in December 2019. In collaboration with Las Rozas, we drew 200+ volunteers and delegates from the conference, and in total we planted 1,000 trees. After that we scaled up our collaboration with yearly events for schools and citizens, culminating in a large "tree festival" for families in October 2022 where 4,000+ citizens participated and 100+ volunteers helped to organise this macro event.

We have now lined up with the city council to engage in 3 new events for next October 2023 including another large family tree planting event with the goal of attracting 5,000 citizens. We also will organise tree planting events for 20+ classes from 10+ primary schools and finally plant a Miyawaki forest (a highly diverse urban forest with 15+ tree species) in order to expand the green infrastructure of the city.

Las Rozas is not only interested in the benefit of trees (mitigation of the urban heat island effect, better water retention after intense rain, more pollution capture, beautiful streets and parks for recreation, etc.) but also in involving its citizens and creating awareness and respect for the environment and climate action. This starts at school level with education around sustainability (Life Terra offers a free education program for 8-14 year students, called Terra Mission), followed by actual action in the field at multiple locations so as to offer all citizens the opportunity to participate.

At Life Terra, we are expanding this experience and have been planting in and around many European cities, including Nice (FR), Den Bosch (NL), Lisbon (POR), Oostende (BE), Dublin (IR), Cologne (DE) and Rome (IT). We hope to inspire and welcome other European cities to become involved in climate action and enjoy the multiple benefits of tree planting and citizen participation.