Organisation : Creect NGO, Cartagena , Spain

In October 2015 CREECT NGO started the project for the restitution of what was one of the first botanical gardens in the world. Also some of the most unknown; The Royal Botanic Garden of Cartagena of the XVIIIth century located today in Los Mateos, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Spain.

An agreement was signed with the City Council of Cartagena, which gave way to the creation of a forum where exports met. Another agreement  was signed with the university UPCT, through which 15 architectural students would develop the new real botanic garden of Cartagena. This was just the beginning.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationBiodiversityGreenfield land and natural space
Water resources and air qualityClimate changePublic space
Social inclusion and integrationLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
Life come after the trees!

Cartagena has a population of approximately 2.220.000 citizens and has long been known as a grey and contaminated city due to local industrial crisis of the early 90.

Just before the actually the local government has focused on the promotion of a healthy city and the creation of a cultural product by enhancing the city`s heritage that include the Historic Botanic Garden and all around it that include the “Moros Fortress”of the SVIII too.

The whole set is sorrounded for the poorest neighborhood of the city, los Mateos.The project is include into the policies and targets of the local government, is include in the future of los Mateos too . In that way CREECT and the botanic project took part in the MAPS project ( ) as a strategic partner in the development of the IAP for the neighborhood since 2015 til today that includes targets like:social cohesion and innovation, co-design solutions,enviroment,cooperation, mobility, circular economy,..

In Action
5000! The Cahllenge in the driest place in Europe!

Our approach has been to sensitize and involve society, public administration, universities, private companies and neighbors with the same project working under the same umbrella.

For this, some actions have been carried out:
1 In October 2015 -  the project began with a forum in the UPCT with the best experts in botany in Spain at historical, managerial and scientific level to raise awareness about the Royal Botanical Garden of Cartagena, generating great enthusiasm in the city; 400 registered, news in local and regional media, social networks.
A table called reforestation has been created "in which the local government, local NGOs, neighbors and private companies participate with a common goal, to reforest the mountains of the city." Https:// Id = 41314

On December 3, we coordinated and reforested, with more than 500 residents of the neighborhood of Mateos, the hillside that will occupy the new Royal Botanical Garden of Cartagena with more than 2000 trees; 100 volunteers, groups of scouts, families, elderly people, who enjoyed a splendid day that began after the cleaning work of the services of the town hall that removed 80 tons of rubble and garbage from what was previously a landfill to clear the way of what will be a new recreation area for the city and the neighborhood.

In the action we managed to combine the efforts of the three ethnic groups that cohabit the neighborhood of mateos; the gypsy, the Muslim and the Christian, finishing the day eating a paella and disguising the graffiti mural painting made for the occasion in the vicinity.

On the other hand this July have completed the development of the 15 final projects of the students of architecture of the UPCT that have been working since the launching forum of October 2015 on the urbanism of the future garden and the castle of the Moors which will be presented in book format (1000 copies) with the Mayor of Cartagena and launched this September 2018 as a scientific publication in the academic world. All this with the sponsor of a local private company and the support of the university community

Green life

The awareness of the society of Cartagena and Spain of an institution until today virtually unknown as it is and was the Royal Botanical Garden of Cartagena "one of the first in the world, one of the three that had Spain in the SXVIII" Institution that today would be equivalent to an R & D center, the first higher education center in the south-east of Spain that served as a learning center through biomedicine for the apprentice surgeons of the Royal Hospital of Marina de Cartagena, recovering that intangible asset that forgotten memory. For us, it is the most important thing. In 2015 nobody knew this institution today everyone knows it in their city. Regarding human involvement and social cohesion addressed in the process of these years, the figures speak for themselves; thousands of people involved in the actions of plantation coordination, integration of the different religious and cultural communities and ethnics, dozens of private companies that support the project, hundreds of attendees at conferences, echo in local, national and regional media, an architecture faculty and its teachers and students involved in the project, a scientific publication that will be disseminated by architecture faculties around the world ... Today there are 1500 planted trees that their neighbors take care of in what only a few months ago was an unhealthy ditch, this next October 2018 we will plant another 2,000 completing the second phase of the so-called Repsol Forest due to the help provided in the copper expense.


The change has been substantial in the attitude of a neighborhood that has been hopeless due to the lack of a change in trend or a socio-economic future. To value the old Botanical Garden or the Castle of the Moors, to project and disseminate it through a European project such as the line URBACT has signaled for a neighborhood with the highest index of socio-economic vulnerability in Spain a new door to get a job once this initiative is underway, the visit of tourists, the improvement of the neighborhood, infrastructure ... Environmentally the change has been drastic reverting 5 hectares full of waste of all kinds to a composted soil and prepared so that the 1500 trees planted a few months ago and those that will be planted this October 2018 will turn this space into a real orchard. The environmental value is evident considering that practically all of the species that exist in one of the areas have been planted, the one in southeastern Spain with the largest biodiversity d of europe; its conservation value, teacher, ... In terms of decarbonization within about 10 years will be around an average of 25 tons per planted specimen that multiplied by about 3000 living beings that will be on that slope that will form the botanist, we would talk about 75,000 tons year. Sectrata of very effective species to contribute to a clean atmosphere are the holm oak (Quercus ilex) and the olive tree (Olea europea). At the same time they protect the soil that according to the last study of greenpeace is the one that represents the most danger of all spain, they give shelter to the animals and they are one of the main structural units of the ecosystems.

Challenges and lessons learned

Regarding the above the New Royal Botanic Garden experience is being "because is still on going " have been and is the first real oportunitie to change the trend and  move away from the situation of social exclusion and marginallity  in wich los Mateos district is sinken by the reuse of their importante heritage . After our experience , we have learned that our city should be more resilient and is necesary to conceptualize the city as a system of systems, as a team really joined under a unique aim, our Garden.



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