The Portuguese city of Torres Vedras has won a European Green Leaf in the first year of the new competition which recognises a city’s commitment to better environmental outcomes. Torres Vedras was recognised in particular for its mobility strategy, efforts in reducing biodiversity loss and water management measures.
Torres Vedras is a Portuguese municipality in the district of Lisbon, approximately 50 km north of the capital Lisbon, in the western part of the Centro region. The municipality covers an area of 407.20 km2 (0.4% of the national territory) and has approximately 72,000 inhabitants (0.8% of the country). It has 20 km of coastal area and more than 20 beaches. A physical presence in Torres Vedras is the Lines of Torres Vedras which are forts built in secrecy to defend Lisbon during the Peninsular War.
The mobility strategy implemented by Torres Vedras aims to diagnose weaknesses of the transport system and define a set of measures to improve mobility and quality of life. The focus of the strategy was on intermodality, elimination of barriers and promotion of universal access for people and goods. An electromobility plan has been implemented with 12 electric vehicle charging points in the city. Additionally, plans have been developed to support soft mobility such as encouraging and facilitating the use of bicycles by citizens, a public bike sharing scheme. Other measures include a linking car parking outside the city to urban transport, and an integrated parking management system.
A new sustainable mobility plan is currently under development with even more ambitious measures which shows Torres Vedras dedication to improving mobility in the future. This ‘smart mobility’ approach will be based on the principles of multimodality, sharing, promoting pedestrian and bicycle accessibility and enhancing car rental instead of ownership. It will also support the transition to cleaner vehicles by promoting an interactive smart grid in order to facilitate EV and FCEVs buying and selling energy to and from the grid.
Biodiversity and Land Use
Torres Vedras main objectives regarding biodiversity and land use are the reduction of biodiversity loss, the decrease of unsustainable use of natural resources and guaranteed access to nature for the population. A key aim is to guarantee access to nature in urban areas with higher density and reintegrating biodiversity in these locations. The city has put in place a number of projects to reach its objectives, such as tree planting, the implementation of the Atlantic Path – Western Natura Network included in the trans-European pedestrian route, and the promotion of a diversity of urban agriculture and garden. The municipality has also involved the local population in the protection, management and planning of the landscape and highlighted two main projects: ‘Protected Landscape Area of Socorro and Archeira Mountains’ and ‘Rivers project’.
Torres Vedras is served by municipal supply systems providing drinking water compliant with the quality standards set by the European Drinking Water Directive. One of the city’s key objectives is the reduction of water consumption. Measures taken to reduce water losses in the city are by remote management systems, using rainwater for irrigation and developing systems to reuse treated wastewater.
Recovery and reuse of grey water and rainwater are implemented in the Environmental Education Centre (EEC) building. This system includes rain water routing to the tanks buried outside the building, subsequent treatment and feeding to alternative network cisterns. The irrigation of green roof and gardens by a buried drop to drop system is an effective water saving alternative to the traditional spraying.
A number of activities are promoted by the EEC targeting growth populations and students. Different water related thematic sessions and visits to wastewater treatment plants aim to raise awareness and demonstrate opportunities to reduce water consumption and pollution by changing behaviour in water management.
Torres Vedras has a strong focus on behavioural change to improve the environment. They have developed an impressive Environmental Education Centre (EEC) which is used for a range of environmental awareness raising activities spanning the different environmental categories in the European Green Leaf competition. The centre is used by citizens of the city with a strong focus children’s awareness.
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View Torres Vedras Finalist Video below