Paris will make itself greener and its streets cooler by creating “urban forests,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo says. Her strategy, unveiled recently, is to create new urban parks and gardens, adding 30 hectares of green space and plantation of 20,000 new trees by the end of 2020.
She said the €72-million plan would create the largest garden in the city around the Eiffel Tower.
The first phase is now expected to take place on an unused train line planned to create a green belt in the city.
“We have an obligation to act today to avoid making this city impossible to live in down the road,” Hidalgo said in an interview with Le Parisien.
Vincent Viguie, a scientist at the Paris-based International Research Center on Environment and Development, believes the city can create microclimates and reduce street-level temperature by reducing amplification of the heat off sidewalks and buildings.
Forests cover almost a third of France, due in part to increased protection and a decline in farming. The country is the fourth most forested in Europe, after Sweden, Finland and Spain. Since 1990, France’s overall wooded or forested areas have increased by nearly 7%, that is 90,000 square kilometers, or about the size of Portugal.
The head of French energy firm Total said recently the company would invest $100 million annually on a new forest preservation and reforestation project.
Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said that this was not philanthropy, he added. “It’s about investing in the medium and long term. A project for the forests, it has to last a long time to be positive for the planet.”