The species of trees being planted in place of the trees cut down en masse in Hanoi is only suitable for soil and climate conditions in mountainous regions, not in urban areas, a plant expert has said.
>> 2 Hanoi construction officials asked to review responsibility in ‘tree massacre’ plan Dr. Nguyen Tuan Hiep, a specialist in plants at the Center for Plant Conservation Vietnam, gave the warning at a seminar on reviewing green planning for Hanoi following the project to cut down and replace 6,700 trees in the capital. The event was held on Monday, three days after the chairman of the People’s Committee ordered the suspension of the project amid protests from the public, who said some of the trees which have been felled – as many as 500 – included those that were still growing well. The project was started on March 19 after authorities approved a plan proposed by the Construction Department to replace 6,700 trees from 2015 to 2017 at an estimated cost of VND60 billion (US$2.82 million). Before formulating the plan, Hanoi authorities directed the department and Hanoi Green Trees-Park Co. Ltd. to launch a survey in 2014. As part of the plan, a tree species has been chosen to be planted on roadsides in place of the trees which have been cut, and according to many experts, this species is “mỡ” in Vietnamese, with the scientific name Manglietia conifer.
These trees have been felled as part of a plan to lop 6,700 trees in downtown Hanoi from 2015 to 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
This kind of tree is only suitable for mountainous areas Dr. Hiep said, adding that the tree will blossom during the January-April period every year. Flowers from the tree are fragrant and will fade and fall about 25 days after blossoming, and it is worth noting that when such flowers drop they will give off a fetid scent, the research said. “Mỡ” trees are usually grown in areas at an elevation of 300-400 meters above sea level. “I affirmed that the tree species being planted on Nguyen Chi Thanh Street is not suitable for Hanoi. I foresee that there is a high probability of these trees dying, as it is very hard for them to survive the land and soil conditions here.” Professor Nguyen Lan Dung, chairman of the Vietnam General Biology Association, said that this kind of tree will not likely create shade after 10 years of growth. “This species is suitable at an elevation of more than 300 meters from sea level, while Hanoi is only six meters from that level,” Prof. Dung pointed out. “I don’t understand what scientific foundation the proposal to plant this species is based on,” he wondered. Since the plan to replace the trees began, many people have stuck the appeal "Do Not Cut Me" on the trunks of myriad trees around the city, and set up a Facebook page called "6,700 People for 6,700 Trees,” which had attracted more than 55,600 "likes" as of Tuesday.
Professor Nguyen Lan Dung, chairman of the Vietnam General Biology Association, speaks at the seminar. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Several ancient trees that have witnessed the history of the capital and are therefore of great historical value would also be chopped down in accordance with the plan, Vietnamplus reported, saying it was one of the reasons for the public outcry. Following such responses, Nguyen The Thao, chairman of the People’s Committee, asked Le Van Duc, director of the construction department, and his deputy who is in directly charge of the plan, Hoang Nam Son, to review their responsibilities related to the execution of the plan. On Sunday, chairman Thao decided to set up an interdisciplinary team to inspect all activities related to the plan.
The chairman requested that the inspection team, led by the city chief inspector, report the results of the inspection within 30 days.
For the inspection purposes, Thao also required that the department suspend the head, deputy head, and a staffer of the department’s office of infrastructure, environment and underground work, whose head is Tran Trong Hieu.