PhD Nguyễn Nguyên Cương, director of the Centre for Education, Communication and Environment, under the Việt Nam Union of Association of Science and Technology speaks to Khoa học & Đời sống (Science and Life) newspaper about Hà Nội’s need for a tree planting scheme along its main thoroughfares.
What are the challenges that Hà Nội faces in planting trees in the city?
Trees play special significance in an urban area. Due to their important role, the city should pay special attention to maintaining the city’s greenness.
If walk around the city, I challenge you to see a grass carpet. Instead, you’ll see thin strips of grass on both sides of the pavement.
Of course, if you go to parks, green will be abundant.
Contrasting with the green colour in the parks, in other public places, are many multi-story houses.
Compared with other cities in the country, Hà Nội has the least trees compared to other urban areas.
Recently Hà Nội authorities have paid more attention to making the city greener by growing more trees. But, they need a proper tree planning scheme. Only then can they have clarity on where to plant trees and how to take care of them.
Don’t you think that due to the high price of land in the city, if there is empty space available, housing developers will try to buy it to build a house immediately?
I don’t mean Hà Nội should not build houses for development. But, housing construction must go hand in hand with maintaining harmony with nature.
If you go around the city, you’ll notice many glass windows in tall buildings. This is against the world’s trend of green buildings in the context of climate change.
Are there any measures to turn Hà Nội into a green city?
As I have mentioned, the city should focus on planting more trees. I remember in 2005, Hà Nội announced that the city’s greenness had reached 70 per cent of its areas. But now, the percentage has dropped considerably. It is too early to say, but I’m sorry to say, in the next decade or so, there will be no more green trees in inner Hà Nội if the speed of housing construction keeps up. There are also no more car parks inside the city for car owners.
Good planning work must create adequate space for planting trees as trees are lungs for the city. This fact is undeniable!
Recently, many trees have been planted along the city’s main thoroughfares. Do you think this is a good sign for Hà Nội?
Planting new trees is a good sign for the city. But when will these trees help make the city green? It will take many years.
Some points I want to mention here – what type of trees they are; their life cycles and how will they be taken care of and many other factors. If we want to grow trees for shade and they must be taken care of, we have to select tree species very carefully.
Many people think that planting trees is simple. Any type of tree will do. But in reality it is not! For the aesthetic point of view, transport safety and grass carpet we need to conduct a detailed study on the surrounding environment.
Do you mean that growing trees needs the involvement of scientists?
Well, if you want anything to develop sustainably, we need to consult with scientists working in that field as well as with the people. As far as I know, this concept is new in Việt Nam.
Do you have any proposal for green trees development in Hà Nôi?
As I have mentioned above, scientists should have played an important role in the task of urban development planning, including tree planting. Regrettably, in urban development meetings, scientists are not always invited to attend, particularly those specialised in tree planting.
As I have mentioned above, choosing what trees to grow in a street needs scientific knowledge. But taking care of them is more important, particularly perennial trees. When Hà Nôi commemorated its 1000th founding anniversary in 2010, I came up with a proposal on how to take care of trees planted along the city streets, particularly perennial trees. But my proposal is still lying on the shelf. Worse still, quite a few perennial trees have been cut down at the behest of the decision makers!--VNS