Greenery, air quality and climate resilience – those were the main topics of the day-long conference organized by the City of Ostrava as the final event in the CLAIRO project. More than a hundred participants from Europe and beyond met via a video link in order to discuss current trends and the latest developments in urban climate resilience.
A member of the conference organizing team gave more details: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to hold a conference devoted entirely to the role played by urban greenery in reducing air pollution levels. There were nine speakers in total, from the Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Hungary and Sweden – all of them renowned experts in their field. But despite their professional expertise, the speakers focused not only on theoretical knowledge, but also gave a wealth of practical examples and shared their personal experiences.”
Greenery, air quality and climate resilience
The conference was launched by the main presenter Tomáš Čech, who briefly outlined the key activities and measures that the City of Ostrava is implementing as part of its efforts to improve air quality and adapt to climate change. After his opening address, a summary of the CLAIRO project was given by Gabriela Kalužová, a consultant and international project manager who is also a member of the CLAIRO team.
The first speaker from outside the Czech Republic was Tamás Kallay, the CLAIRO project’s UIA expert. Tamás has specialized in public greenery for many years, focusing particularly on its ability to absorb pollutants from the atmosphere. Besides giving key theoretical information, he also presented a number of practical observations and tips for planting trees in urban locations such as major road corridors. The next presentation, given by the urban planner and landscape architect Peter Bednár, addressed the issue of sustainable transport. Among the key issues covered in this inspirational lecture were the pros and cons of road transport in city centres as well as the impact of cars on urban landscapes.
After a short break, the conference programme continued with a talk by Eduarda Marques da Costa, an associate professor at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning in Lisbon. She focused on the role of greenery in cities and its impact on physical and mental health in urban populations. The next presentation was given by Birgit Georgi, the Director of the “Strong Cities in a Changing Climate” platform, who spoke about a range of attractive solutions that present-day cities can implement in response to climate change. The last lecture in the morning part of the conference was given by Martin Vysoký, a landscape architect from Sweden, who described the unique concept of blue-green-grey infrastructure with a particular focus on its positive contribution to rainwater management. The morning session concluded with a panel discussion, in which the experts answered questions from participants and also spoke about the individual contributions we can all make in order to improve the quality of urban life.
CLAIRO: Ostrava as a living lab
The afternoon part of the conference was devoted to CLAIRO project workshops. The first speaker was Vít Kašpar from the Silesian University in Opava. His presentation described how to plant urban greenery in order to achieve the maximum possible absorption of pollutants. He was followed by Pavel Buček from Ostrava’s Technical University, who explained how atmospheric data can be useful when planting urban greenery; he also gave a practical example of displaying data in the Floreon system. The next presenter was Karel Doležal, an expert in chemical biology, who introduced participants to an innovative treatment formula that helps plants to overcome negative environmental effects. The final presentation of the conference was given by the project manager Gabriela Kalužová, who described a unique survey exploring how people living in the Moravian-Silesian Region perceive air quality and urban greenery.
Functional and well-maintained greenery is extremely important for today’s cities. Adapting to climate change and combating air pollution are highly complex issues, and no universally applicable solutions exist. We are confident that the CLAIRO conference was useful and inspirational for representatives of cities that are open to new, innovative solutions and are not afraid to apply them. For them, the project team has created a user-friendly manual entitled “Green Infrastructure for Cities”, which summarizes the key conclusions of the CLAIRO project. You can download the manual (and other relevant publications from the project) here.
A video recording of the conference is available to watch here.
Here you can download all the presentations from the conference.