Paris to plant "urban forests" around landmarks
Paris plans to go green by planting "urban forests" around famous landmarks to improve the air quality and address climate change. Mayor Anne Hidalgo told newspaper Le Parisien that she wanted to create “urban forests” at the Hôtel de Ville, the Palais Garnier, the Gare de Lyon and a footpath along the banks of the river Seine.
“I am convinced that Paris must adapt to changing temperatures,” Hidalgo told Le Parisien. “The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) forecasts heatwaves at 50° by 2050. We have an obligation to act today.”
The mayor wants to encourage people to spend more time outside in the city, enjoying the environmental benefits of nature, such as reduced air pollution.
Paris has less green spaces than other major European cities like London, Madrid or Rome. Less than 10 percent of the city is given to parks and gardens. Environmentally conscious Hidalgo is determined to change that. Last year she launched Project Oasis, a radical plan to cool Paris by transforming the city’s 800 concrete school yards into green spaces by 2040. It’s not unknown currently for some school yards to reach temperatures of over 50° in the summer - too hot to go outside or to study.
On her watch, traffic in the city’s been reducing at a rate of five percent a year. So she’s proposing steadily removing parking spaces and replacing them with gardens.
“Urban forests” and vertical farms - where food is grown indoors in high stacks - are appearing in cities all over the world in a bid to combat climate change. As well as having obvious environmental benefits research shows they have economic and health benefits, such as helping to improve mental health and lower stress levels.
They also encourage wildlife, helping to preserve biodiversity.
Paris is steaming ahead with more eco-initiatives by 2020, with 100 hectares of green rooftops, facades and living walls; additional bike lanes and electric trams, all included in the city’s ambitious green goals. Also by next year, all public lighting in the city will be powered by renewable energy sources.
Mayor Hidalgo says: “We must both adapt to climate change and respect heritage. It is a radical transformation. That's the challenge.”