WATCH: China's 'Forest City' to fight pollution

2017-07-06 16:57 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town – Following in the ‘green’ steps of Singapore and Milan, China is set to build a massive ‘Forest City’ by 2020, in the hopes of fighting pollution.

Vertical ‘forests’ – which are actually high-rise buildings covered with trees and plants – are already functioning in parts of Singapore and Milan.

While proving to be aesthetically pleasing by adding colour and liveliness to the otherwise dull grey of many concrete buildings infiltrating the metropolitans of the world, these vertical forests serve the primary function as a solution to the increasing carbon dioxide levels.

SEE: SA commits to new green BRICS Urban partnership

By absorbing carbon dioxide, filtering dust from pollution and producing oxygen, such buildings should be incorporated by all major cities in the world.

And according to World Economic Forum, “They’re also an ingenious way of planting more trees and creating habitats for wildlife in cities that are squeezed for space”.

And this is why China - an over-populated, over-polluted country - is on a mission to get its first vertical forest.

World Economic Forum says this project, set to be built in the eastern city of Nanjing, is the brainchild of the Italian architect Stefano Boeri and his team, who built Milan’s Bosco Verticale (vertical forest), consisting of two residential high-rises with around 900 trees and over 20,000 smaller plants and shrubs.

Milan’s Bosco Verticale (vertical forest). (Photo: iStock)

Scheduled for completion in 2018, the Nanjing vertical forest aims to be higher with a 247-room hotel, offices, shops, restaurants, a food market, conference and exhibition spaces, a museum, a rooftop club and even a green architecture school.

But what’s really impressive about this vertical forest is that, according to World Economic Forum, it will hold “1100 trees from 23 local species and 2500 cascading plants and shrubs, which the architects say will provide 25 tons of CO2 absorption each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen a day.”

ALSO SEE: #EcoTravels: 5 Green airports around the world

However, experts say this will only make a small difference in the Chinese city, so even more green projects are required.

The solution: Boeri and his team plan on building “forest cities”. The concept is a “green mini-city for 100,000 people with buildings of different sizes covered in trees and plants”.

Check out this video to get an idea of what the architects envision:

Rethinking urban life.

A post shared by World Economic Forum (@worldeconomicforum) on

But plans to erect a vertical forest and forest cities are not all that China is doing to alleviate pollution. In Hangzhou, commuters can hop onto any one of “at least 86,000 bicycles” they find in the area, and ride wherever they like to – guilt-free.

“Hangzhou launched the $24 million (R322,08 million) bike share programme in 2008 to mitigate the vehicle exhaust choking the city,” says adding that the use of bicycles “eliminate more than 110,000 tons of gas consumption a year”.

However, at first it appears strange that these bicycles can be found anywhere – sidewalks, overpasses, parks, placed randomly against walls – with thousands of bikes lying around it has become a free for all for anyone needing a ride.

But since people dropped the bikes wherever they liked after using them, complaints from citizens grew and the city began collecting the bicycles.

ALSO SEE: Going Green: Cape Town named as Top 5 global leader for climate disclosure

According to, police have gathered 23  000 bikes so far this year and hauled them into what resembles “bicycle graveyards” in 16 parts of the city.

Either way, travelling by bicycle - coupled with living in forest-like apartments - is certainly the way to go if we care about Earth’s future.

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