Brussels launches ambitious greening project to combat urban heat islands

In recent years, Brussels has made significant strides in transforming itself into a greener city, with its parks, the expansive Sonian Forest and lush greenery adorning its streets and squares. 

However, this verdant landscape is not evenly distributed across the region, leading to the emergence of ‘heat islands,’ particularly in the concrete-heavy Canal area—the largest concreted surface in the region.

During heatwaves, the temperature disparity between densely built-up areas and their greener counterparts can soar up to 8°C, exposing inhabitants in grey zones to heightened health risks. 

The importance of green spaces equipped with trees that purify the air, produce oxygen, absorb CO², and offer shade cannot be overstated. 

In response to this challenge, a collaborative effort between Brussels Mobility, Brussels Environment, and the Port of Brussels has been launched to bring nature closer to every Brussels resident, starting with the Canal area.

The Planting Strategy Unveiled

“We want to offer every inhabitant of Brussels a corner of nature within easy reach,” declares Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister for Mobility and Public Works. 

The ambitious planting strategy is not merely a short-term fix but a comprehensive plan to make Brussels greener and more resilient to climate change.

As part of this initiative, over 14,000 trees and shrubs will be planted around the Canal zone by 2027. 

While some more significant projects are still in progress, several smaller-scale endeavours are set to materialize this winter, particularly in the least green neighbourhoods, addressing the situation’s urgency.

On Avenue de Vilvorde, north of Evere, a substantial ecological makeover is planned, involving planting 5,000 new trees and shrubs on the central reservation—a vital link in the environmental network. 

Boulevard du Neuvième de Ligne, the central stretch of the Canal, will witness the revegetation of 801 m² of ground, accompanied by the installation of benches for passers-by. 

Local additions of plants are also slated for prominent locations like the Loredana Marchi bridge, MIMA, and the Pont des Hospices. 

Furthermore, Porte de Ninove will witness the transformation of 1,359 m² of concrete and create a small park adjacent to the De Trooz Square bridge.

A Network of Green Oases

Beyond addressing climate change, the emphasis on creating green spaces becomes crucial given Brussels’ urban and densely built character. 

Alain Maron, Brussels Environment Minister, emphasizes, “Many Brussels residents do not have a garden, and they too have the right to a place where they can recharge their batteries, meet people, and find coolness in summer.”

This summer marked the opening of the first section of the Quai des Matériaux park, a sprawling 2.8-hectare expanse, equivalent to three football pitches, stretching from Sainctelette to Place des Armateurs. 

The ongoing renovation of Maximilian Park in 2025 will expose part of the Zenne, while efforts are underway to transform Parc de la Sennette into an “island of freshness,” enriching the densely populated zone between the Anderlecht Abattoir and the Porte de Ninove with additional greenery.

The Port of Brussels has introduced innovative measures within the Canal, including vegetated rafts. 

Gert Van der Eeken, Director-General, explains, “Above water, they are planted, which is interesting for insects; below are Biohut underwater cages that provide valuable shelter and increase the chances of survival for young fish.” 

These floating rafts contribute significantly to the biodiversity of the Canal, creating a new habitat for various species.

Nesting boxes have been strategically placed along the canal banks to attract bank swallows, marking their return to Brussels after a four-decade absence. The success of these initiatives is evident, with 35 breeding pairs counted in June this year.

Conclusion: A Greener Brussels for All

The joint effort by Brussels Mobility, Brussels Environment, and the Port of Brussels signals a promising step towards a more sustainable and equitable Brussels. 

As the city strives to combat urban heat islands, the commitment to planting thousands of trees and enhancing green spaces reflects a forward-thinking approach to urban development. 

With projects ranging from large-scale transformations to more minor, immediate interventions, the initiative seeks to bring the benefits of nature to every corner of Brussels, making it a greener city and a healthier and more inclusive one for all its residents. 

This endeavour is not just a catch-up measure; it marks the beginning of a profound transformation towards a more environmentally conscious and resilient Brussels.


This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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