Paris is going green — literally.
On June 17, Paris City Hall announced its plan to plant lush urban forests in four locations in France’s capital: in front of Hôtel de Ville, next to Gare de Lyon, by l’Opéra, and on les Berges de Seine on the Right Bank. The project is just one of many initiatives in Paris’s larger plan to combat climate change, become a carbon-neutral city by 2050 and improve the quality of life of its citizens.
At Hôtel de Ville, an open space will be maintained in the middle for public gatherings and events. Behind l’Opéra Garnier the vegetal space will fill rue Gluck between l’Opéra and la Place Diaghilev. The view of the historic building, notes the city’s announcement, won’t be obscured by the plantings. On La place Henry Frenay, the square to the north of Gare de Lyon, trees and plants will be added.
For Les Berges de Seine, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site, a section of one of the two former traffic lanes, now pedestrian-only as a part of the Parc Rives de Seine, will be covered with plantings.
Pollution levels in Paris are high and one study showed the landlocked city’s air quality to be so poor that it has the same effect on one’s health as smoking two cigarettes in four days.
The replacement of cement-covered areas by new tree-filled green spaces is a part of Paris’s “débitumisation” plan, started in fall 2018, which aims to remove asphalt and pavement wherever it’s not needed. Greenery — trees, in particular — act as “carbon sinks,” according to the Urban Forestry Network, and can alleviate the greenhouse affect and improve air quality.
Work on Paris’s four planned urban forests could begin as soon as 2020, according to City Hall.