Going by the current trends of urbanisation in Africa, it is necessary to seek new ideas to improve ecology, human health, and well-being. ‘MR CITY’ is an innovative lab in Beyero University, Kano, Nigeria, for millennials with promising ideas on how to recreate urban greenery and the biophilic. Importantly, ‘MR CITY’ Lab seeks to guide policymakers to achieve some of the targets and indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals , the New Urban Agenda, and international climate targets such as the Paris Agreement.

For the attention of: Policy-makers, academics, urban planners, environmentalists, traditional title holders, local and international development partners, NGOs and residents.

The problem: Kano is a city with a historic importance attached to the Hausa native trees. Interestingly, some neighbourhoods in Kano actually received their names from native trees. Regrettably, urbanization has seen many of these native trees severely depleted with others disappearing completely from the neighbourhoods that are named after them. It is reported that young people from such neighbourhoods cannot even identify or name such trees at sight, because they don’t know them.

What we did and why: The project restored 17 different native tree species by planting a total of 61 native trees in all the locations where a depleted native tree was though to have stood (neighbourhoods, open spaces, public schools etc.) in order to recreate the historic biophilia of urban Kano. Geographical coordinates of each of the restored trees were taken using hand-held GPS device as a way of tracking the precise location of each restored tree.

What our study adds: This was the first attempt at using innovative lab in Africa to incubate ideas by assembling academics, experts, students and communities to co-design solutions on how to successfully restore some of the depleted native trees in Kano. The findings also highlight the importance of sex-based inclusion in the project, and nature-based solutions in urban ecosystem restoration and sustainability.

Implications for city policy and practice: Our study findings suggests that the success of project, especially its implementation, cannot be fully and effectively achieved without the inclusion of all stakeholders in the design and policy-decision process.

For further information: See MR CITY LAB. For Millennials to restore urban biodiversity in Kano city through planting of local tree species. Tweeting at @MR CITY LAB

Full research article: Aliyu Salisu Barau, Kamil Muhammad Kafi, Abubakar Bawa Sodangi & Suleiman Gambo Usman (2020) Recreating African biophilic urbanism: the roles of millennials, native trees, and innovation labs in NigeriaCities & Health.