Milan plans city centre biopark

Nature oasis will use abandoned railway lines.

Milan city council is examining a plan put forward by WWF for the conversion of unused, raised railway lines into a nature oasis, stretching from S. Cristoforo via Porta Genova to Porta Romana.

The aim is to create a park along the lines of New York’s High Line or the Promenade Plantée in Paris, which have both quickly become popular places to meet and stroll, a respite from the stressful city streets below.

The feasibility study presented this week revealed that an innovative model of regenerated urban space is possible there. The project will use the raised strip of land to create an ecological corridor with a part of the area set aside for a “wilder”, less tailored naturalistic section alongside the more accessible public park.

The study had produced “surprising” results: the earmarked area contains 381 different types of vegetation, or over 80 per cent of the types known to be present in the city. The area also hosts a wide variety of insects, reptiles, birds including birds of prey and migratory species, and mammals, including protected species like the green toad.

This is just one of several projects for sustainable development of Milan to recover degraded areas, said city councillor Pierfrancesco Maran. The city is already cooperating with the railway company to reach agreement on the recovery of the abandoned station buildings and the tracks between them, he said, and the WWF plan will fit into that planning.

Maran added: “Apart from creating a nature oasis within the urban fabric, this plan will increase the area of territory hosting ecosystems which are typical of the Lombardy countryside, a precious treasure to be defended and nurtured.”

WWF’s plan is being supported by the philanthropic Fondazione Cariplo, Milan city hall, the Eliante charity working for environmental sustainability, and Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, the track management branch of the former state railways.