Durban is the greenest city in the world as reported by the first Husqvarna Urban Green Space Index. The HUGSI Index is an AI-powered satellite solution to help decision makers monitor the proportion and health of green spaces in cities across the globe.
Jenna Robinson, Husqvarna South Africa marketing manager for this leading global manufacturer of outdoor power products, said the Husqvarna team was elated that Durban had taken first place out of 98 cities.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil took second place and Austin, USA was third.
The Husqvarna Urban Green Space Index 2019 was launched as part of the Husqvarna Living City event in Gothenburg, Sweden, gathering international thought leaders, industry people and media from the green space community.
It applies computer vision and deep learning techniques to satellite images, unveiling key insights into the current state and historic development of vegetation and the surrounding environment in urban areas. This shows just how green cities really are and alerts urban planners if densification is reducing the amount of urban green spaces.
Green spaces: the lungs of cities
Robinson points out that green spaces are the lungs of cities, improving air quality, managing flooding and rainwater and contributing to the physical and mental health of citizens. As urbanization continues, it is vital to monitor the proportion between grey and green areas.
“Safeguarding our urban green spaces is a huge part of our global culture and the team works hard to help create a sustainable future through innovative products that are built around low carbon emissions and community work,” explains Robinson.
Anders Johanson, CTO, Husqvarna Group adds that the company believes that AI and emerging technologies will play a key role in the future of green space management.
“With HUGSI, we want to draw attention to the importance of green spaces and to empower decision makers to safeguard green areas in cities by providing them with undisputable facts. Digitalizing green space management will enable predictive care of parks, improving recreational and environmental values, as well as operational efficiency,” he says.
All C40 cities covered
The HUGSI 2019 Index provides green insights covering all C40 cities plus Brussels (Belgium), Marseille (France), Geneva (Switzerland) and Gothenburg (Sweden).
Overall global winner of the greenest city is awarded to Durban, South Africa. Followed by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on second place and Austin, USA on third. They all score high on the percentage of green space combined with great distribution and health of vegetation.
“We are extremely happy and proud to award the winning cities with this acknowledgement. But we also believe that all cities in the index are winners. With this new data set they get the facts needed to monitor and drive the development for even greener and healthier development of their cities. Hopefully other cities can find the insights from the HUGSI-index inspirational and start their journey towards greener urban environments.”, says Johanson.
Durban came out on top against 98 cities in the world followed by Rio De Janero in the second place and Austin took the third place.
Safeguarding green spaces essential
The Index recognised Durban for sustainability and greening initiatives that are aimed at safeguarding green spaces by ensuring there are not jeopardised by urbanization.
Such initiatives are implemented and managed by the City’s Parks Leisure and Cemeteries Department which makes Durban more caring and liveable by rolling out climate-resilience strategies and curating open green space.
Deputy Head of Parks, Leisure and Cemeteries, Sibusiso Mkhwanazi said the recognition was as a result of the City’s greening strategy and policy which directs planting of 80% indigenous trees and 20 % exotic plants.
“The strategy is setting aside huge natural and green areas known as Dmoss as part of spatial planning. It informs us on what to plant, how to plant and where to plant more trees. Furthermore, as part of creating an urban forest, the city has a programme where we plant trees to rehabilitate areas that have been eroded. This effort has then contributed to us being the greenest city,” said Mkhwanazi.
Durban is a recipient of two Arbor City Awards from the National Department of Agriculture.
- View the full report here.