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City of Geneva increases tree planting in response to climate emergency

The City of Geneva’s new tree management policy announced in June 2020 is moving into action with the 2020-2021 planting season, which has just started. A further 500 trees will be added to parks, streets and cemeteries in the city, three times as many as in previous years. This is in response to the climate emergency.

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Plantation arbres

Last June Mr Alfonso Gomez, Administrative Councillor responsible for the environment, decided that from now on for every tree felled by the Parks and Gardens Service, three new ones will be planted. This decision will increase the amount of shaded space in the city and reduce heat islands. Boosting the amount of vegetation will also lower the level of CO2 in the air, the main cause of global warming.

Over the 2020-2021 planting season, 500 specimens will be added to the 40,000 trees already on public land. “Rigorous efforts have to be made from now on to increase planting. To meet our targets and combat global warming we need to retain more of the current stock of trees and manage them more strictly. There is also a duty to be transparent, which I intend to honour,” says Mr Gomez. “Planting zones are rare in Geneva, space is a precious commodity and increasing planted areas is essential. So we have to take action in both directions.”

A highly diverse planting campaign

For the Parks and Gardens Service (SEVE), the planting service that started on 2 November 2020 will run until the beginning of April 2021. Normally between 150 and 200 trees are planted in parks and on streets each year. Extra teams are currently being mobilised to plant three times as many. 

The city is aiming for maximum diversity in the types planted: nearly 100 different species have been selected for the planting campaign. A balance has to be struck between indigenous species and exotic ones, while still selecting types with a good tolerance of drought and high temperatures that are best adapted to climate change. For example, the Parks and Gardens Service has identified 15 different species of oak that seem to fit particularly well with Geneva and the way it is developing.

There is also diversity in terms of the shape and age of the trees. All these choices depend on multiple criteria like the topography of the site, the final landscape desired, the quality of the environment available for the tree and the specific features of each individual space. Fruit trees are preferred for several sites, such as rue Maurice-Barraud and rue Bout-du-Monde. These meet a popular need, allowing improved biodiversity and preserving ancient varieties. 

Planting on both sides of the lake

Some parks are doing particularly well this year, like parc Hentsch (60 specimens) and parc Geisendorf (45 specimens) on the north shore, and the edge of the paddling pool and the playground in parc Bertrand (50 specimens) on the south shore. Parks affected by the storm on 13 August 2020 (parc La Grange, parc Mon-Repos, etc.) are being considered for possible replanting starting this winter.

Efforts have started and will continue, and a cross department working group was launched this autumn to draw up a list of all potential tree planting sites to meet the target of 30% of canopy by 2030. Consideration is being given, for example, to reinforcing the edges of parks with “leafy fringes” that would benefit both the parks and the neighbouring streets. The issue of replacing parking spaces with areas of trees is also being studied. 

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Article modifié le 27.11.2020 à 13:18