Case Study

Phytoremediation in Sarkandaugava

Plants reviving neighbourhood

What happened?

Phytoremediation is a method that uses plants to clean up the soil and water. This approach was used in the Sarkandaugava neighbourhood to do small scale, community organized cleaning activities and most important to raise attention within the local community and city officials of the lost and polluted waters of Sarkandaugava. Within the project a small group of people every spring are cleaning the area next to the Sarkandaugava river and planting sunflowers to purify the soil. Sunflowers have a deep root system, they are annual plants and consume a lot of nutrients, thus also attracting the pollution. And it is a beautiful plant, creating the landscape more attractive. This activity is combined with some small-scale bottom-up public space improvements – benches, canopy and an information stand that tells the history of the neighbourhood and the local industrial waters.

  • 7 years
  • 2 hour event every spring
Phytoremediation in Sarkandaugava


This neighbourhood with a post-idustrial image has found itself in a moment of change with mental borders between different social groups. It has been included in Riga City Social Integration Policy supporting NGOs, activities of local communities that strengthen local identity.

It needed to activate local community and on the other hand to rise attention of Sarkandaugava pollution problem.

Authors wanted to show the potential of having one more green area in this industrial neighborhood and fight the pollution in and around the Sarkandaugava river and encourage reconstruction of the waterfront. By intorducing the phytoremediation method to kick-start the changes.

How? (tools & methods)

  • find a person who can grow seedlings
  • The person informs responsible association when the seedlings are ready to be replanted
  • Announce the event on social media and locally
  • On the day of the final each participant arrives with their own garden tools
  • You need to find a place that would provide the water
  • The event itself is quite simple and social - all participants planting the sunflowers.
  • To check how the area is evolving now and then you can walk around the places taking photos.
    • By doing things together organizers have opened the proces to practical input in solving local problems.

For whom?

  • Activities have been designed to engage all-age inhabitants from the Sarkandaugava community and on the other side the city administration representants.

What worked out?

The most positive and visible result is that area is cleaner than before. No-place has become a place which is being taken care of. The local community has been attracted to this area - residents see this area as a place they can use – take a walk, walk a dog etc. The City Zoning plan recognizes the place as a blue-green area now. The problem of pollution in Sarkandaugava river is widely recognized. Local administration is looking for and evaluating the potential steps needed to clean and revitalize the area.

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