How a Colombian city cooled dramatically in just three years

How a Colombian city cooled dramatically in just three years

It’s mid-afternoon along Medellín’s Avenida Oriental, a traffic-clogged road that scythes through the heart of the second-largest Colombian city. Nicolas Pineda is crouched on his haunches as cars zoom by on both sides.

Wrapped in heavy-duty workwear and armed with a machete, Pineda is weeding a thick strip of tree-lined greenery running between the lanes. He hacks at a patch of dead, browning bush and pulls up a rogue, zig-zag-shaped shrub beside his foot.

Es bien bonita,” grins the 54-year-old, pleased with his handiwork. “It’s very clean. That’s what I like to see: a clean, green city.”

Pineda has helped sow and maintain hundreds of thousands of trees and plants across Medellín as part of a people-led scheme to fight against extreme heat through a “Green Corridors” network.

In the face of a rapidly heating planet, the City of Eternal Spring — nicknamed so thanks to its year-round temperate climate — has found a way to keep cool.

Previously, Medellín had undergone years of rapid urban expansion, which led to a severe urban heat island effect — raising temperatures in the city to significantly higher than in the surrounding suburban and rural areas. Roads and other concrete infrastructure absorb and maintain the sun’s heat much longer than green infrastructure.

“Medellín grew at the expense of green spaces and vegetation,” says Pilar Vargas, a forest engineer working for City Hall. “We built and built and built. There wasn’t a lot of thought about the impact on the climate. It became obvious that had to change.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *