Josep Mayoral i Artigas: "We have taken seriously the Congress's proposal for nature-friendly urban development"
Interview with Josep Mayoral i Artigas, Mayor of Granollers
11 March 2008
The Mayor of Granollers - a city with 59,047 inhabitants, 26 km from Barcelona - is participating in the debate on "Biodiversity policies for urban areas" during the Spring Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, which is taking place in Malaga. In this interview he explains the issues surrounding biodiversity in urban areas and his city's action in this field.
Question: The report by the Belgian member of the Congress, Willy Borsus, supports nature-friendly urban development. What is the situation in your city?
Josep Mayoral i Artigas: We have taken this proposal seriously. Our municipality, which covers 15 km2, has carefully ensured that a number of areas remain designated as non-building land, so as to conserve biodiversity. One-third of local territory is agricultural or non-building land. We have also made a considerable effort to clean up a river which, when the Franquist regime was in power, was one of the largest sewers in Europe. This river, flowing behind the city, was used by local municipalities and citizens to dispose of all their waste. We have turned this dead zone, where I used to bathe when I was a little boy, into a site included in the Natura 2000 network. Today, it is a place where people go to spend their leisure time strolling around.
Question: Granollers was recently awarded a prize in the first competition for biodiversity development projects organised, inter alia, by the Ministry of the Environment. What is your experience of implementing biodiversity policies in urban areas?
Josep Mayoral i Artigas: Apart from the constant effort to improve our environment, mention must be made of the fact that this city had 1,000 trees in 1979, whereas today there are over 18,000 within the urban environment; it previously had 1 m2 of green space per inhabitant, which, thanks to the workings of municipal democracy, has been increased to
100 m2. Green spaces are part of the urban landscape, which must not be just concrete. We have implemented a project to identify natural areas of local interest, which has enabled us to designate 17 protected areas within the municipality's boundaries.
Question: Can you tell us about the Biodiversity 2010 network in Spain, which is unique in Europe?
Josep Mayoral i Artigas: This network has a powerful influence on the definition of spatial management strategies and is part of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces. It promotes schemes for the conservation and development of biodiversity in urban areas.