Liuzhou Forest City Offers a Model for a Greener Future
A green city of one million plants and 40,000 trees sounds like a plan pioneered in Norway or Switzerland. But it is China, one of our planet’s most polluted countries, that is building the world’s first forest city — which literally looks like it came out of a sci-fi movie.
For decades China has been choking in toxic smog.
Economic hubs such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, and landlocked Beijing are worst hit by pollution, with nearly one-third of deaths in China caused by air and water pollution.
But finally, there’s hope that China is taking steps to combat its dire environmental degradation. Once it is completed in a few years-time, Liuzhou forest city will be an energy self-sufficient oasis, that will include houses, offices, hospitals and schools, all covered entirely in plants.
The city, which was designed by Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti, will host 30,000 people, and it is expected to produce 900 tons of oxygen per year. It will be home to one million plants of over 100 species that will improve air quality as well as biodiversity of living species.
But is this enough to tackle the air pollution? Chief architect Stefano Boeri believes that it takes more than a couple of tree-covered skyscrapers to clean the air in China. Instead he thinks that his model of architecture must be copied and replicated to see any meaningful improvement in such a vast country like China.
In the meantime, as Beijing meets national air pollutant standard for the first time, the “airpocalypse” only moves to the south. For the first time since 2001, the air in Shanghai was recently declared dirtier than in Beijing.
Other measures taken to combat pollution include the world’s largest air purifier in Xi’an, as well as temporarily closing down factories in an effort to figure out which ones follow environmental laws and which ones don’t. Authorities in Beijing have already closed or upgraded 11,000 polluting companies, and have taken more than two million obsolete vehicles off the road.
They also introduced widespread bans on coal burning in households, which backfired, however, resulting in a Winter heating crisis.
One thing’s certain — it will take a few years of thorough implementation, as well as consistent and coordinated efforts to control industrial emissions, to make pollution disappear in China.