Location: Bilbao, Spain
City population: 787,367
Project duration: unknown - ongoing
Project cost: 500 000 - 2 000 000 EUR
Financing source(s): Public local authority's budget

Bilbao Greenbelt Expansion

Gran Recorrido de Bilbao

Bilbao’s Green Belt is a municipal initiative that encompasses forest and urban parks that surround the urban area. In this way what is known as the Gran Recorrido de Bilbao (GR) was created, which skirts the City passing through the forest parks of Artxanda, the mountain of Avril, Arnotegi, Pagasarri, and Arraiz, and completing a route of 99.3 kilometers in a closed belt of trails, paths, roads and streets signposted with references to routes, interesting places, and general information. This GR is reached from the center of Bilbao through eleven additional routes that all lead to a central point. [2]

Urban setting

  • Parks and (semi)natural urban green areas
    • Large urban park or forest
    • Green corridor

Key challenges

  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Water management (SDG 6)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Public sector institution (e.g. school or hospital)
  • Non-government organisation/Civil Society
  • Private sector/Corporate/Company
  • Researchers/University
  • Citizens or community groups
  • Disadvantaged groups
Project objectives
According to the Municipality of Bilbao, their goals for the green belt are [2][3][4]: - to expand and connect the city's green areas - to create a network linking the peripheral green belt with urban parks and other green areas inside the city - to improve resilience to climate change through carbon sequestration and local climate regulation - to increase water infiltration and reduce run-off - to provide space for recreation - to increase citizen well-being from accessibility to green space - to group together existing municipal forest parks on both sides of Bilbao with urban parks
Implementation activities
The inhabitants of Bilbao have seen in the last decade how the green areas of the Villa have grown significantly, from 6 square meters per person in 1999 to 24 square meters with which the city will count when the projects are currently completed in progress. The objective of the Green Belt is to group together the municipal forest parks on both sides of Bilbao with urban parks. At the moment, the park has a total of 200 hectares distributed in 21 parks, and forest areas, which total 1,025 hectares divided into 5 areas (Artxanda, Monte Avril, Arnotegi, Pagasarri and Arraiz). To these the City Council plans to add the path of Grand Tour (GR) of Bilbao, coined as the Green Ring, which circles the urban nucleus of the Villa and the five forest parks and completes a 74 kilometer closed ring between paths, roads and streets marked with references routes, places of interest and General information. [2][4]

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government / municipality

Management set-up


Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project
The expansion of the city's green belt is a City Council initiative. The local government has been gradually increasing the green areas of Bilbao, an especially significant effort in the last decade, where, in 1999, it had been six square meters person to 24 square meter per person at the present. [1]
Project implemented in response to ...
... an EU policy or strategy? Unknown
... a national policy or strategy? Unknown
... a local policy or strategy? Yes
The Bilbao green belt expansion is a city council led project. It is mentioned in their Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) for 2020. Within the SEAP, Bilbao developed measures in the following six areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable mobility, waste, water, and green zones. The document emphasizes mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the level of efficacy of technical networks and construction systems, this included the improvement of green infrastructure i.e. the green belt. The city is also currently revising its Master Plan for approval in 2018 wherein one of their priorities is smart and creative urban planning as well as a strategy for climate change. The green belt has a role in both of these priorities. [1][5][6]
Expected impacts
  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Environmental quality, including air quality and waste management
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Water management (SDG 6)
Details on impacts and indicators used The forest properties of Bilbao add up to a total area of 1,025 hectares. In order to enhance the leisure aspect of these areas, in recent years, the City Council of Bilbao has created new areas of recreation and play, from having 27 hectares in 2006 to the 134 hectares that are currently maintained, distributed in 18 spaces. On the other hand, the City has planted in recent years 18,500 trees, mostly native, such as birch trees, oak trees, beech and ash, and also some foreigners such as lime trees or American oak. It has already led to 1 million extra square metres of green areas in Bilbao in the last 10 years. The expanded network of green spaces are expected to improve local climate regulation in the city via the increase of urban trees and forests. Additionally, the increase of trees will support water flow regulation as well as run off mitigation. [1]

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting


Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports


Availability of a web-based monitoring tool



Disclaimer: The data collection was carried out between June and August 2017, the information presented has not been updated afterwards.