How cities are protecting and making use of their natural resources

Trees planted by schoolchildren will cool the city in Moshi, Tanzania, in the future. Photo: ICLEI

Case study series on the value of nature in cities, showing why local and regional governance is crucial for conservation.

Cities and regions around the world are realizing the value of nature in urban life. This case study series on urban nature produced by ‘INTERACT-Bio Integrated regional action for Biodiversity’ showcases how cities in Brazil, India and Tanzania are mainstreaming nature into their planning and policy processes. From the environmental benefits of waste management in Moshi, Tanzania to integrated regional planning in Campinas, Brazil and participatory biodiversity planning in Kochi, India, these case studies show why local and regional governments are so critical to tackling the biodiversity crisis. INTERACT-Bio is implemented by ‘ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’ and supported by International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Cooling hot cities: How trees can mitigate urban heat and increase a city's adaptive capacity

Both Dar es Salaam and Moshi are experiencing rapid urbanization, with both cities’ growth projected to continue into the future. As a result, the cities’ natural assets and the ecosystem services which they provide are under pressure. The cooling properties of trees, as well as their ability to assimilate air pollutants and store carbon, are vital ecosystem services in urban settings. These services need to be acknowledged and safeguarded.

The cooling hot cities case study documents two parallel tree planting and educational initiatives in Dar es Salaam and Moshi. In Moshi, 250 trees were planted by participants at a Secondary School awareness raising event where a new “tree tracker” software was also launched to verify the planting and aid in future monitoring of the trees. In Dar es Salaam, 32 students participated in a two-day training on nature’s services in the city. These initiatives were designed based on the premise that in order to derive benefits from mature trees, people have to invest in their growth and care. Investment in early education on the importance of urban nature is critical, and these initiatives found increased awareness and education after the intervention, showing that well-designed engagement can spark long term commitments and behavior change.

Mapping the Campinas Connectivity Area

Degradation and loss of natural resources are nationwide subjects of attention in Brazil, especially due to its position as the most biodiverse country in the world. The resources and services provided by biodiversity fundamentally support the country’s cultural, social and economic development – livelihoods of traditional communities, agriculture and tourism – and therefore call for priority action.

The Campinas Connectivity Area case study showcases how integrating ecosystem services into regional planning in the Metropolitan Region of Campinas strengthened cooperation and enabled the implementation of the Campinas Connectivity Area. The Connectivity Area connects fragmented natural areas throughout the State of São Paolo via ecological corridors.

The development of the connectivity area was conducted in three main phases: stakeholder mobilization, a two-part technical analysis, and an effort to drive uptake in regional policy and planning. Through this process, the Metropolitan Region of Campinas improved management of natural resources, as well as the incorporation of nature and ecosystem services into urban planning.

Developing a Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan: Exploring participatory approaches in Kochi

A Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) is an important tool for local governments to implement biodiversity conservation. LBSAPs translate international and national policies and targets into implementable action plans at the local level.

This case study focuses on the development of Kochi’s LBSAP in a participatory and scientifically informed manner. Working through the LBSAP, Kochi city will conserve its biodiversity, maintain the uninterrupted flow of ecosystem services, and ensure sustainable, safe and climate resilient development by managing its mosaic of ecosystems inclusively. In order to increase ownership and effectiveness of the LBSAP, Kochi held consultations not only with technical experts but at both the city and zone levels to enable diverse and deep stakeholder participation.

Belo Horizonte's Green-Blue Network: A mapping methodology to prioritize nature-based solutions

Urbanization is one of the most aggressive drivers of change affecting the natural environment from the atmosphere to soil and water. Therefore, the restoration of natural areas for the promotion of ecosystem services and the increase in biodiversity are critically important actions for local governments to focus on. The concept of nature-based solutions provides the foundation for the reintegration of natural cycles into urban design and planning, aiming to improve food security, the easy delivery of ecosystem services and thereby, quality of life for residents.

The mapping methodology presented in this case study combines technical maps that show the demand and supply of ecosystem services with a multi-criteria analysis that was used to define potential areas for the implementation of nature-based solutions within the Green-Blue Network corridors.

Environmental Cleanliness in Moshi: Lessons for waste collection, service delivery and revenue generation

One of the most visible manifestations of urban growth and infrastructure backlog is the presence of waste in cities. It is a central challenge voiced by local governments and is implicated in environmental pollution, disease, infrastructure damage, flooding, and the undermining of beauty in urban public spaces.

This case study features the success that the Moshi Municipal Council has achieved in environmental cleanliness and waste management by making use of grassroots level structures to deliver services, generate revenue, and create shared values among residents. Moshi is the four time winner of Tanzania’s Health and Environmental Sanitation Award, a feat that it achieved by improving infrastructure and facilities, investing in environmental education and empowering its community to take a leading role in environmental management. Other local governments in Tanzania have also learned from Moshi’s successes; after visiting Moshi, Dar es Salaam’s Regional Commissioner launched a similar environmental cleanliness campaign called “Dar es Salaam without pollution is possible”.

Illustrated Natural Asset Maps: A novel tool to communicate the importance of nature in cities

Illustrated Natural Asset Maps are uniquely powerful visual tools that simplify, represent and communicate information about complex ecosystem structures, functions and services in a geographic area. The maps support local governments to integrate biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management into urban planning and community involvement for sustainable development and improved quality of life

This case study focuses on Kochi’s innovative participatory approach to natural asset mapping and features illustrated natural asset maps from Kochi, Panaji and Gangtok. The development of the natural asset maps was a five step process that incorporated natural and cultural asset mapping, species and ecosystem selection, illustration, and verification and finalization. Ultimately, Kochi featured local and traditional knowledge to produce outputs that are not just visually stimulating, but which may also enhance citizens’ environmental action.


These six case studies are the first in a series that show how Global South cities are prioritizing urban nature, protecting biodiversity and strengthening their ecosystem services with support from the INTERACT-Bio project. The results have been shared through the ICLEI’s network of 2500+ cities, towns and regions.  Three additional case studies are currently under development.

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