Uforest Innovation Challenge

uforest innovation challenge

Designing climatic refugia in Barcelona

As part of the Uforest Specialization School, students will participate in the Uforest Innovation Challenge, where they will have the opportunity to develop their own urban forestry solution. At the end of the 14-day training, students will pitch their projects “against” each other and be evaluated by a jury composed by experts of the Uforest partnership.

What is the context of the Innovation Challenge?

Heat waves are increasingly hitting Europe, and especially its Mediterranean areas. Cities are particularly vulnerable to these waves because of the already known urban heat island effect, which is particularly important in dense Mediterranean cities. For this reason, urgent actions are needed to provide these cities with climatic refugia. Urban Forest-Based Solutions (UFBS) are especially indicated to address these urgent needs from a sustainability perspective, but they face challenges in optimising the provision of their services (i.e., shadow and local decrease in temperature) at a reasonable cost. In this regard, particular attention should be put on water consumption, a resource which is always scarce in the Mediterranean regions, as well as on the promotion of other ecosystem services, like biodiversity conservation.

What is the Innovation Challenge about?

The Uforest Innovation Challenge consists in the development of a project, which shall address the following challenge: how to provide the basic ecosystem service of a forest-based climatic refuge (shadow and heath mitigation) while promoting biodiversity conservation, and ensuring a reasonable use of water. The main goal is to create a space that can serve as a “climatic refugia” through urban reforestation, while considering the local conditions, species functions, and services. At the same time, architectural elements and planting constraints will have to be taken into consideration. The project will have to be developed in a specific low-vegetated area at the campus of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB).

UAB campus innovation challenge

How does the Innovation Challenge work?

Students will be divided into groups and develop the project during the two weeks of the Specialization School. During this period, they will have the opportunity to explore potential planting areas and work on their project with the assistance of experts from the Uforest partnership. At the same time, the Innovation Challenge is the perfect way for students to immidiately practice what they learn during the training.

At the end of the training – on the 23rd of September 2023 – each group will give a presentation illustrating how they responded to the Innovation Challenge and underlining the strong points of their project. A panel of experts from the Uforest partnership will evaluate the project and claim the winning group based on 3 main criteria:  innovation, impact and scalability.

What is the prize of the Innovation Challenge? 

As a prize, the winning students will see the realization of their project. Indeed, CREAF will incorporate the winning project into the design and implementation of the planting campaign in the UAB campus.