Biocapacity of Matosinhos City
City/Region : Matosinhos , Portugal

With this project we intend to involve an Experimental Community in Matosinhos in the challenge of alleviating people with nature in a symbiotic way, thus improving environmental health and urban biocapacity. In a school and family environment, the students are targeted with messages in key areas to respond to SDGs 3, 6 and 11. We want students to use their school gardens as a living laboratory where sustainable water management for food production is tested and the role of gardens in the carbon balance is studied.

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
Climate actionBiodiversityEliminating pollution
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
The group of older students who took theyr plants home and took care of them during summer

Matosinhos has the goal of reaching -40% GEE emissions by 2030. In order to reach that goal, Matosinhos, alongside the Energy Agency of Porto, created the "Matosinhos Action Plan for Sustainability and Climate," where this biocapacity project is also reviewed. The plan is already undergoing implementation and we've got 64 measures related to the adaptation and mitigation of climate change, such as: Water Management, City Planning, Waste Management and Coastal Erosion, etc. We predict a total cost of 1.130M€ for the implementation of these measures, with 36% related to buildings and 63% to public transportation. With the biocapacity plan, we want to offer the city more value by adding more and more native species that are well-fit to our environment, while building a ecologist mindset in our younger, as well as our older, audience.

In Action
During the pandemic we were on the field with the students, to learn about invasive species

The project has 3 strategies that we implement based on the age of the students:

Strategy 1 – “Biocapacity” – the city's carrying capacity, namely, the natural resources it makes available to the people who live there and the capacity it has to absorb the waste resulting from its activities;

Strategy 2 – “Carbon Flows in the City” – Is carbon the bad guy? How does Nature sequester carbon? Calculation of my carbon footprint; reduce consumption
and change our daily actions to reduce carbon emissions and pollution; Solid Urban Waste and circularity in the city; Carbon balance in the school garden: “what you put in the garden, it gives back!”;

Strategy 3 – “Young Guardian of Nature/Nature-Based Solutions (SBN) – Native species; Ecosystem services, environmental health and quality of urban life: “The importance of school gardens.” Delivery of native plants by the municipality for young people to take care of at home with their families during summer vacation and bring back to school, plant them in a school in another in their city. An online tool was prepared to support young people monitoring the evolution of the plants in their care during the summer holidays.

Although we do not have any quotes from city representatives, we have some quotes from the students and teachers that participated in the project and gave us their feedback about it, in a file where we monitor the satisfaction levels after every action:

From 2 different teachers:

"The activity went very well, with the active participation of all students involved, and the proposed objectives were met."

"The activity took place accordingly and established objectives with the active and interested participation of the students involved."

From the students:

"The activity was very interesting."

"I liked this activity."

"I liked the activity a lot."

Our mechanisms were the following: Alert students to the importance of native species for improving environmental health in cities, and their resilience to climate change. Teachers, municipal technicians, young students and their families built tools for change and interaction throughout the project; mobilise people, and in particular the youngest people (and through their influence family and friends) to change their daily actions, avoid wasting natural resources and reduce waste production and urban pollution, thus improving the biocapacity of cities.


This project started in 2020 with the intention of involving an Experimental Community (EC) of the Municipality of Matosinhos in the challenge of alleviating people with nature in a symbiotic way, thus improving environmental health and urban biocapacity. The EC integrates researchers, elementary school teachers, technicians, young students and their families, in order to create the development of tools for change and interaction with nature. The objective of this project is to promote change so that people better value the territory, committing all those involved to change habits, and therefore increasing the biocapacity of the city where they live, alerting people to the importance of native species in improving environmental health in cities and their resilience to climate change.

We responded to the following international policies:

SDG 3: your city's air pollution and how it poses a threat to your health and well-being;

SDG 6: how cities can change attitudes related to unconscious consumerism and save resources and through their daily actions reduce waste production and reduce pollution, contributing to the sustainability of cities, where tap water is potable and not used for irrigation;

SDG 11: How can we integrate more indigenous plant species into the city and contribute to building more sustainable communities.

Even the younger have the opportunity to increase Matosinhos biocapacity

To date, we had about 660 participants and planted 135 trees of six different species (strawberry tree "Arbutus unedo", Butcher's-Broom “Ruscus aculeatus”, Hawthorn “Crataegus",
Yodan “Celtis australis”, Myrtle “Myrtus L.” and Bay Laurel “Laurus nobilis”). Due to the relevance of this theme, the implementation of this project will take place throughout the year of 2023.


With this project, each young person brought their family motivation to change their habits. In each school, a multiplier effect was visible, between the young people and teachers
involved and the other classes including students and professionals (teachers and non-teachers) from the same school. Annually, we expect the schools directly involved in the project to share it with new schools, which will also have a relevant effect on the positive impact of the project, not only in the same city, but by including other cities. Gradually, the project will contribute to having attentive, interventionist and constructive citizens, committed to contributing to cities that are resilient to climate change, provide resources and that absorb emissions and waste in a versatile and efficient way.

Challenges and lessons learned
Each student side by side with the tree they planted

Implementation of bio-spots in the city is still a challenge for us. We want to create a network of bio-spots to map all of the species that visit us annually and are present throughout the year. The bio-spot should be an open source programme where every citizen could have his own input with photos of the species they sighted, which would then be certified by a biologist.



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