Baia Mare is a municipality along the Sasar River in north-western Romania. With a population of ca. 145.000 and a metropolitan area home to more than 230,000 residents, the city is the capital of the Maramures county.
The city is currently transitioning from its past as Romania's mining capital towards a new sustainable social, economic and environmental development model. The last metallurgical factory closed in 2012 and, the city is now coping with a multi-dimensional set of challenges (including economic decline, depopulation, and environmental pollution). On top of the socio-economic consequences of the closure of the core productive system in the city, the mining and metallurgic industries left a legacy of circa 627 hectares of land polluted by heavy metals (up to 5 times the acceptable value) within the metropolitan area. Such land is now disconnected from the urban framework and a danger to the inhabitants and the environment; nonetheless, it is also an essential resource for the regeneration and sustainable economic development of Baia Mare's urban system.
The SPIRE project, following the triple bottom line (TBL), initially tackles the challenges urban ecosystems suffer at the nexus of the economy-society-environment. It seeks to apply adaptive phytoremediation to contaminated land (environmental lens), to generate a new and dynamic land-use management through participatory planning (social lens), and to create new local value systems (economic lens).