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Bugs and Birds: New Residents of a Greener Madrid

Since 2015, Madrid’s government has been trying to increase the city’s biodiversity. Hundreds of birdhouses and “insect hotels” around the city seem to be working.
One of more than 100 birdhouses that Madrid's city government has installed around the city
One of more than 100 birdhouses that Madrid's city government has installed around the cityMadrid City Council

MADRID—In Spain’s capital, urban agriculturalists are busy counting birds, butterflies, and other fauna and flora as the city government prepares to release its first strategic plan for biodiversity, presented to the media on June 19th and expected to be approved next week. Burgeoning wildlife is seen as an indicator of Madrid’s environmental health, and a reason to continue the measures that the city has been practicing for the past two years.

The flagship project of Madrid’s quest for biodiversity is centered on the Manzanares River, a modest stream that flows across the city, and that has suffered from decades of bad ideas. In the 1950s, urban planners built seven floodgates along the river to raise the water level so it would look more like the prominent rivers of London, Rome, and Paris.