A preliminary assessment of green areas of Matera city and their potential role in climate change.
Urban greening offers a series of services including the improvement of air quality, water cycle, through several functions (e.g., absorption of air pollutants, increasing water catchment operated by soil). There is increasing attention to quantify urban green areas and the related benefits to the extent that the Italian National Statistics Institute (ISTAT) scores the "green value" of the main cities. There are still uncertainties on the classification of the green areas and their potential to provide services that collectively improve the urban life quality. This study analysed the green areas of the urban environment of Matera city, focussing on their category (private gardens, school gardens, green streets and urban parks) and size and their potential to serve as CO2 sink. The analyses were carried out on four representative areas and the size of the various categories was assessed through cadastral and other municipal data. The urbanization process had influences on urban ecosystems including plant biodiversity, increasing the abundance of plant alien species. Knowledge on the spread of alien plant species might help to prevent the biodiversity loss. Therefore, a qualitative survey of the existing alien plant species in the urban environment was performed. Preliminary results show that the urban green area calculated in this study is 90 ha. In addition, private gardens share a higher surface of urban green areas, reflecting a good greening aptitude of citizens. Considering that the green areas within built environment is most beneficial for human well-being, a possible scenario related to the carbon (C) sequestration by these areas in Matera city will be presented. A potential green corridor connecting some existing spot green areas to promote social aspects and improve well-being of citizens and environmental sustainability will also be discussed. This study might be supportive for urban planners and local policy makers, contributing to drive future decisions towards a greener built environment of Matera city.