Landfills are among the most notorious pieces of real estate in the world. Even a hardcore recycler is still directly or indirectly responsible for creating trash that will find its way to a landfill. It is a side effect of modern human life. But landfills don't have to remain steaming heaps of smelly rubbish. Take these ten former trash heaps that are now characterized by abundant green and diverse wildlife.
This island off Singapore's southern coast used to be a fishing village. When the government bought out the residents, Pulau Semakau became a dump for a majority of the city's waste after it was incinerated. When the site was converted into a nature preserve earlier in the decade, impermeable lining was put around the area where the ash is stored. There is a coral reef off the coast that teems with marine life, while birds and mangroves populate the shore. It is possible to visit Semakau, but everyone who sets foot on the island is led by a trained guide in order to preserve the natural habitats.
This nature preserve is located three miles from downtown Buffalo. It is built above a landfill. The park contains 264 acres and is a sanctuary for birds, deer, fish and other marsh creatures. Fishing in the preserve is possible, but most visitors are bird watchers, photographers or people just out for a stroll in this conveniently located park. Aside from being a recreation area, Tifft also has programs that seek to educate people about nature, conservation and area ecosystems.
Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach
This affectionately named hill is, in fact, made out of compacted trash that is covered with clean soil. The site was well planned and includes recreation areas like a basketball court, skate park and picnic area. Unlike most of the other parks on this list, Trashmore is not a nature preserve. However, its design and almost completely self-sustaining, low-water garden are recognized for their ingenuity. Trashmore is a popular tourist attraction for resort-goers in Virginia Beach.
Bukit Tagar, Malaysia
Unlike the other sites on the list, Bukit Tagar is still a working landfill. However, in addition to state of the art equipment and facilities, this area also has plenty of natural elements. Reed beds are used to help absorb leachate and make the regular process of purification more efficient. many tropical birds live in and around the landfill.
Millennium Park, Massachusetts
This 100-acre park has six miles of trails and offers some great views of downtown Boston. Though the area is not one of the most naturally spectacular on this list, it was the product of a hard fought campaign by Mayor Thomas Menino, who sought to clean up Boston soon after he first took office in 1993. The creation of Millennium Park, a former landfill that was shut down in 1994, was the first step in a movement that has made Boston one of the greenest cities in the US today.
Chambers Gully, Australia
Chambers Gully in suburban Adelaide, used to be a local landfill. The land was reclaimed and naturalized almost completely by volunteers, making it unique from the others on this list, which were mostly built with government funds. Now the land is a haven for wildlife, including koala bears, which are often seen perched in the park's many eucalyptus trees.
Hiriya is an unmistakably-shaped geographic feature south of Tel Aviv is first visible from the air. Anyone flying into Ben Gurion Airport will see the mound from the air. The site is currently the largest landfill in the Middle East. But, Hiriya is in the first stages of a naturalization process that began in 2001. When completed, the landfill will become part of a vast natural area known as Ayalon Park. This project is expected to be completed in 2020 and will make the area one of the world's largest urban parks.
Sai Tso Wan, Hong Kong
This multi-purpose recreation area in Hong Kong is the first of the city's parks built on top of waste. Great care was taken to seal the waste from the now-green surface. In addition to multi-purpose sports fields, this area has a playground, track and picnic spots. Located in the Lam Tin area of Hong Kong, Sai Tso Wan has helped to increase the desirability of the neighborhood. In addition, the park has become a poster-child for Hong Kong's green movement. Wind turbines have been installed on park grounds, as has a rainwater collection system.
Freshkills Park, New York
When the entire process of greening is complete, Freshkills Park will be three times larger than New York's Central Park. However, the project will take more than 30 years to complete. That might seem like an unacceptable time frame, but considering that the park will cover what used to be the largest working landfill in the U.S. and create one of the largest urban parks in the world, the lengthy development process is understandable.
Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley
This Bay-side park was built on top of one of the Bay Area's largest landfills. The expansive lawns and recreation fields are a drfaw, but most people simply come to take in the view of the water's edge. This is a smaller park that some of the others on this list, but the undeveloped north end is a haven for wildlife. A wetlands area further adds to the park's eco-cred. A mile-and-a-half-long trail circles the entire park and allows visitors to get a glimpse of the diverse landscape.