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Cities Are Ripping Out Concrete and Replacing It With Plants

A Greener Future?

Imagine walking down a street not paved with concrete, but bursting with life. Flowers bloom where cars once parked, rainwater soaks into the earth instead of rushing down drains, and the air feels cooler thanks to the shade of trees. This isn't a fantasy – it's the reality in a growing number of cities around the world that are embracing depaving.

Depaving, also known as desealing, is the removal of concrete, asphalt, and other impermeable surfaces to make way for plants and soil. Proponents say it has a number of benefits:

  • Reduced flooding: By allowing water to soak into the ground, depaving can help to reduce the risk of flooding in times of heavy rain.

  • Improved air quality: Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which can help to improve air quality in cities.

  • Habitat creation: Depaving can create new habitat for wildlife, including birds, bees, and butterflies.

  • Reduced heat island effect: Cities tend to be hotter than surrounding areas, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. Depaving can help to mitigate this effect by providing shade and cooling the air.

  • Improved mental health: Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve mental health. Depaving can bring nature back into cities, making them more livable places.

Depaving is still a relatively new concept, but it is gaining traction in cities around the world. In Portland, Oregon, a non-profit group called Depave has removed over 33,000 square meters of asphalt since 2008. In Leuven, Belgium, the city is removing concrete and asphalt from residential areas and forcing cars to share the road with pedestrians and cyclists.

There are challenges to depaving, of course. One challenge is ensuring that depaved areas are accessible to people with disabilities. Another challenge is finding the funding to pay for depaving projects. However, the potential benefits of depaving are significant, and it is a trend that is likely to continue as cities look for ways to become more sustainable and resilient.

This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a professional before making any decisions about depaving your property.