São Paulo, Brazil’s capital, has three municipal nurseries where some 1.5 million native seedlings are produced year in and year out to green up the city, thus improving the citizens’ quality of life and saving threatened tree species.
“One of the greatest pleasures I had when I came here was telling my friends, ‘Today I planted 5,000 fig tree seeds,’” says Yacov Kilsztajn, biology student and intern at the Harry Blossfeld municipality nursery. “Planting seeds here at the nursery is one of the actions that has the greatest impact when we think about urban afforestation.”
Between the three municipality nurseries – the Harry Blossfeld Nursery, the Manequinho Lopes Nursery, and the Arthur Etzel Nursery – some 1.5 million seedlings are produced on a yearly basis. The Harry Blossfeld facility specializes in the city’s native flora, alone producing 270,000 seedlings from 200 tree species, including 22 that are facing extinction. Public landscaping is a useful tool to “combats heat islands, improves air quality, reduces noise pollution, contributes to emotional and physical well-being, connects green areas and attracts wildlife, among other benefits,” as agronomist Guilherme Amaral puts it. Projects like the Bosques de Conservaçao aim at growing mini forests in areas with dense traffic and planting specific trees to attract chosen birds. For instance, the Tium Forest is named after a tiny green parrot, and the Curicaca Forest is named after a native ibis species. Urban tree planting must consider native species and biological diversity to safeguard animal and flora species alike.