When Parks and Sustainability Collide

Wolfe Rygaard

With the horrors of climate change creeping closer, more and more stress has been placed on measures to mitigate the oncoming damage. When the floods become stronger, we’ll build stronger surge barriers. When the droughts become longer and more intense, we’ll dig deeper into the ground to reach untapped aquifers. The beautiful Danish park, Enghaveparken, flipped this logic on its head by showing that the solution to climate change is a lifestyle change. The beauty of it all is that these changes actually benefit the people as much as they benefit the environment.

The country of Denmark, and, as such, the city of Copenhagen, faced an increased number of cloudbursts. A cloudburst is a sudden but heavy rainstorm. The city of Copenhagen saw flooding and property damage. The surges of water also carried pollutants into the nearby rivers, streams, and lakes. Looking for answers, the minds behind Enghaveparken’s construction first turned to nature. Trees were planted around the perimeter of the park and the individual sections of the parks were given a border of trees.

Trees reduce floods in a number of ways. Firstly, they absorb some of the initial rainfall which in turn adds less water to the would-be flood. The roots of trees also create pores in the soil which are big enough for water to fall into. Instead of the water sliding across the soil and damaging property, it infiltrates the soil and is used up later by the surrounding plants. Lastly, trees essentially act as speedbumps when it comes to floods. As the water crashes against the trees, it slows down, meaning the collision with the property below isn’t as energy intensive.

The geniuses of Enghaveparken didn’t stop there though. The park’s benches were designed with a slight incline in order to funnel the water to an underground reservoir. When the reservoir is filled, water is sent to a number of different areas, the most popular being the reflective pool and the rose garden.

With a capacity of 6 million gallons, the reservoir also provides water for maintenance purposes like street cleaning and recreational activities like filling bird fountains for birdwatchers. The water is also used to maintain the over 10,000 perennial plants that provide food and shelter to a number of insects and small animals.

Solving climate change doesn’t have to be a painful return to the days of cavemen. Enghaveparken is a fine example of how changes can greatly improve the quality of life while keeping the environment in mind. The only question now is why aren’t there more parks like Enghaveparken.






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I am an environmental scientist who currently resides in Puerto Rico. I’m also passionate about basketball and Tottenham Hotspur.

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