The share of parks, forests and other greenery in Prague is the thirteenth largest among cities in the world in the competition of 155 cities from 60 countries, according to the HUGSI index for 2020 which maps urban vegetation.
According to the index, 56 percent of the Czech capital is covered by urban greenery. 28 percent of Prague is planted with trees, and grassy areas cut 27 percent of urban space. In terms of vegetation health, which the index measures based on light absorption, Prague gained 0.74 on a scale from zero to one. Thus, one resident has a green space of 179.8 square meters.
“I am very pleased with Prague’s ranking. Greening the capital is our priority. We are lucky that Prague has great conditions for that. Greenery cools our city, retains water, helps us fight heat islands and also contributes to the city’s carbon neutrality. Every year we plant tens of thousands of new trees, completely new forests are being created in Prague, recently in Satalice, Běchovice or Na Musile, for example. We also devote great efforts to the maintenance and revitalization of our large parks, such as Stromovka, Letná or Vítkov. We will continue to do so,”says Petr Hlubuček, Deputy Mayor for the Environment
Prague has “inherited” some important green areas from the past, but in addition to above-standard care for the already existing city-wide significant green areas, the City Hall has been systematically working on the development and establishment of new green areas for a long time – both on originally agricultural land and unmaintained areas. Over the last 20 years, the area of public greenery has increased by more than 300 hectares, which is an absolutely unique increase in the conditions of European capitals. In addition, this trend is still continuing, so another 35 hectares of new green space are currently being developed.
Living in a green city has several benefits. Excessive rainwater is better retained, noise levels are reduced, biodiversity is enhanced and people breathe better. Probably the most important advantage, however, lies in the temperature conditions of the city. In densely populated areas, so-called heat islands are formed, whose measured values in degrees Celsius are higher than in the surrounding landscape. The effect of the heat islands is caused by all the heat producers in the city. These include buildings, vehicles, industrial activity but also the residents themselves. The heat is then kept in a confined space between the buildings. In the summer months, the asphalt can heat up to over fifty degrees Celsius. The unbearable heat is prevented by vegetation, as the surface is cooled by the evaporation of water from trees and other plants.
Within Europe, Prague ranked ninth, overtaking big metropolitan areas such as Vienna, Paris or Athens. According to the HUGSI index, the greenest city in the world is the American city of Charlotte in North Carolina, and Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is leading Europe. On the contrary, in terms of greenery, the worst is the capital of Peru, Lima, which did not get a single point in the final evaluation of the index. Prague, on the other hand, gained 73.04 points out of a possible 100.
The HUGSI (Husqvarna Urban Green Space Index) project was only recently launched by the global outdoor tool manufacturer Husqvarna. Thanks to the latest digital technology and cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), it is able to collect specific data from around the world. Satellite photographies are then processed by artificial intelligence, resulting in an evaluation of urban greenery.