Guest Column by Alberto Ipas
Director General, Sociedad Municipal Ayto. Zaragoza
Parque del Agua is a relatively new park, created in 2008 as part of the International Expo in Zaragoza that focused on water and sustainable development. Built on unused, abandoned cropland and bordered by canals, Parque Del Agua boasts a number of recreational opportunities and at 120 hectares (nearly 300 acres) is one of the largest parks in Spain.
Public-private cooperation has been essential because more than 30% of the cost of the park has been paid by private companies saving the local City Hall a lot of money . A flock of sheep is use to cut the grass in the natural area. Horse manure is use from the local equestrian center to fertilized the gardens. There are more than 200 rental urban gardens where people cultivate their own vegetables themselves and take them home.
The park uses water from an irrigation channel, purifying it with a system of aquatic plants, gravel beds and fish and return the water back to the river cleaner than before. Wild birds are encouraged into the park to eat pest insects so fumigation of mosquitoes, flyes or wasps does not need to be done.
The park have receive several awards and certifications for its sustainable management approach.All the vegetation adapts perfectly to the local weather, which is quite hard with very hot days, strong winds or freezes in winter time which damages non native plants. Parque del Agua is the first urban park in the world to reach Green Globe certification.