According to calculations made by the World Health Organization (WHO), Cuenca ranks at the lower end of the acceptable level of “green space” for its residents. WHO recommends nine to 15 square meters per capita as a minimum standard.
According to Sebastian Izquierdo, director of Cuenca’s Environmental Management Commission, Cuenca has 10.46 square meters per inhabitant but acknowledges that it ranks low in the category among Ecuadorian cities. “It is a fact that in 2010, when we did the first green space assessment, Cuenca ranked last in the country,” Izquierdo says. “We have improved since then.”
Izquierdo says that the green space calculations include more factors than a city’s parks and planted roadway mediums, and he sites several new condominium projects with rooftop gardens. “Rooftop, vertical gardens and household gardens are much more common today than they were four years ago.”
Daniel Orellana, environmental researcher at the University of Cuenca, says much of the city’s problem is the rapid growth in the number of vehichles on the streets. He says he is hopeful that such projects as the tram will slow the increase. “We need to invest in the things that will improve our environment,” Orellana says. “That’s the only way we can become a truly green city.”
Photo caption: Rooftop garden on Cuenca condominium (credit: El Mercurio)