Day One – Category C (Population 75,001-200,000)
What the judges said: “We have seen five different communities from five different parts of the world. What was striking was the extent to which previous finalists clearly demonstrated what they have learned from the LivCom experience and exchange of ideas and the extent to which this is benefiting their residents.
“The newcomers are showing that they have the ingredients to be winners and now need to put the message across strongly so that they too can have an influence on practices elsewhere in the world.”
Claudette Savaria, Head Judge
KAKAMIGAHARA CITY, JAPAN: POPN 150,000
With an ancient history, Kakamigahara has been inhabited since the stone age as an important cross roads for trade and in modern times the city has been part of Japan’s rapid economic growth bringing major change to both the environment and the lives of its inhabitants. In the 1990s, amid a sense of impending environmental crisis, the residents began to develop their own environmental strategy. In 2001, in response to this movement, Kakamigahara City formulated the water and green corridor plan.
The public has been heavily involved in helping manage the green sites created under the corridor plan. More than 1800 residents have registered as park rangers – the biggest voluntary organisation in Kakamigahara. Each group develops its own annual plan to cover activities ranging from cleaning parks to planting flowers.
Increasing forest areas to reduce CO2 is one of the urgent issues being dealt with. Under the green corridor plan a major reforestation campaign has begun to replace woodland lost by quarrying or fire. Between 1999 and 2007 123,738 trees had been planted. By 2012 an additional 21,010 trees will be added.
Efforts are being made elsewhere to reduce emissions including by cutting car usage. As well as providing a park and ride scheme and fostering a safe environment to enable people to walk rather than use their cars, the city government runs a monthly no car day campaign for city personnel – the measure has reduced greenhouse gas by 22tons.
CERGY-PONTOISE, FRANCE: POPN 190,000
Situated between Paris and the provinces on the major road networks running from Normandy to northern France, the new town of Cergy-Pontoise has been created over the past 30 years using the principles of sustainable development; balancing employment and living space, urban and social diversity, maintaining agriculture on the urban fringes and natural open spaces with priority given to public transport.
Today, Cergy-Pointoise, having already incorporated concepts of sustainability into its town planning schemes over a number of years, the town is currently at the consultation stage of its agenda 21 scheme. The key priority identified is to help reduce carbon emissions. Plans include a carbon balance scheme for the entire region and a climate plan targeted to reduce emissions in the region significantly by 2050.
Examples of current activities include an employee travel plan to encourage car sharing, using bicycles and public transport to cover journeys from home to work. The public transport system is the most extensive around Paris. The bus network covers 600 stops and 80% of residents are less than 350 metres from a bus stop. By train, five railway lines link the region with Paris. Bicycles are enjoying a big comeback and 80km of cycle tracks have been created as well as a free bicycle service. Introduced in 2009, the scheme covers a 160km cycling route over which there are 41 stations where 360 bikes will be housed for use by local people.
BROADLAND, ENGLAND: POPN 122,200
When Broadland District in Norfolk was chosen as one of four proposed sites for consideration as one of Britain’s first eco-towns, planners in the region welcomed the move as being part of the vision for the area’s long term future.
Low carbon living and managed growth are key to the area’s future according to the Broadland team at LivCom. Broadland is paving the way to deliver lower fuel bills and reduce dependence on fossil fuels for existing residents as well as future generations. A project is being developed to assist residents to fit their homes with insulation, improved heating controls, solar water heating panels, air source heat pumps and other measures. There are also plans to build an exemplar house in the district to teach people all about low carbon living and how the choices they make every day affect both their impact on the environment.
On recycling, Broadland has supported the Ripple Africa charity which plants a tree in Malawi for every tonne of aluminium cans or foil recycled in the UK. In the past year alone, Broadland residents recycled enough cans for 322 fruit trees.
KLADNO, CZECH REPUBLIC: POPN 117,612
Formerly the heavy industry centre of not just the Czech Republic but also central Europe, Kladno has gone through significant change following the closure of the coal industry in 2002. The previous decade had seen 40,000 jobs lost in the region.
As a knock on effect, one of the challenges facing Kladno’s environmental team was the future of the former mining heaps. Research was conducted which suggested that former heaps become valuable natural areas when managed and that even endangered species could thrive in this reclaimed landscape. Gradually, former heaps were made safe before being reintegrated into the natural environment.
As part of a move to extend the green belt, the city authorities are working on both reconstruction and establishment of new parks. Over the past six years, ten Kladno parks have been modified or created to extend the green corridor into the former historical industrial zone.
Elsewhere, neglected villages and old buildings are being reconstructed and integrated with new homes.
ROCKAMPTON REGION, AUSTRALIA: POPN 111,000
Situated on the Tropic of Cancer, the Rockhampton Region is the provincial capital of Central Queensland. The beef capital of Australia, Rockhampton is also a large fruit and cotton growing region. There is also mining activity and a vibrant fishing industry. Tourism is also a major feature.
Situated on the Capricorn Coast in the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, a diverse range of activities take place in the coastal zone and there has been sustained growth in residential development around the established coastal centre of Yeppoon. The impact of visitors and urbanisation is intensifying in key areas and creating pressure on significant coastal ecosystems. Drought and weed impacts on coastal land have increased the need for vegetation rehabilitation and enhancement.
An integrated coastal action project has seen the construction of 15 pollutant traps at strategic locations along the coast. Foreshore management schemes have also been developed at key beaches.