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  • Seoul’s Planting Project of Thiry-Million Trees in Response to Climate Change

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    Over the past five years, Seoul has been implementing the “A Thousand Forests, A Thousand Gardens” project (2014-2018) to create forests and gardens, marking the smooth start towards the goal of planting 30 million trees by 2022. Last year, the city announced “The Giving Tree Project 2022-3000” to plant 30 million trees by 2022 with the aim of expanding life-friendly “urban forests.”

    Last year, Seoul planted up to 8.27 million trees in patches of land and abandoned spaces throughout the downtown area, surpassing the annual goal of planting 5 million trees by over 165% and drawing attention from citizens, civil organizations, private companies, and other local governments with this successful planting initiative.

    Now, the city will go beyond the paradigm of quantitative expansion for tree planting and introduce strategic planting plans regarding “how and where to plant which kinds of trees” to preemptively respond to environmental problems, such as particulate matter and climate change including heat waves and urban heat island.

    Additionally, the Seoul Institute of Technology will conduct studies on planting plans that will lead to reducing air pollutants for solving urgent environmental issues. Overall, Seoul’s tree planting project as part the response to climate change will be significantly reinforced for years to come.

    The establishment of life-friendly “urban forests” by planting 30 million trees is expected to offer the effects of reducing the yearly emission of particulate matter from 64,000 deteriorated automobiles. This means the reduction of PM10 by 25.6% and PM2.5 by 40.9% on average.

    Seoul has set the 2020 performance goal to plant the 30 million trees before the set date by reinforcing the private-public cooperation. The city plans to go forward with four major strategies: ① the reinforcement of strategic responses based on effective tree planting for the amelioration of the urban environment, ② the expansion of diverse green spaces using large abandoned sites and small, idle patches of land near residences, ③ the sharp expansion of private-public cooperation projects, including the citizen’s participatory tree planting, and ④ the routinization of tree planting and raising of tree planting awareness through building better marketing abilities.

    Photos
    Example of a moving park Example of a green rooftop Blueprint of a green bus stop

     
    First, Seoul will employ tailor-made approaches to “greenification” that reflect the traits of each region and place, utilizing parks, squares, rooftops, walls, traffic islands, and more to improve the urban environment and introducing various tree-planting methods in downtown areas and living spaces.

    Second, the city will pursue “greenification” and create diverse types of life-friendly “urban forests” on large abandoned plots of land and idle spaces, bringing and diffusing the cool, fresh air produced in mountains on the outskirts of the city into the central downtown areas. Waterside environments along the Hangang River and other streams will be equipped with suitable dense forests while empty sites, such as open public spaces and the roadside of Olympic Expressway, will become home to multi-layered forests with tall and short trees as well as flowering plants.

    Photos
    Carbon-offset forest & citizen participation

     
    Third, to promote tree planting by regular citizens, the “greenification” projects by private companies as part of CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities and citizen participatory tree planting will be actively supported. The voluntary participation of 164 companies in the campaign between 2013 and 2019 is considered one the of most successful cases of private-public cooperation initiated by Seoul, and this will be continued through diverse projects including the construction of carbon-offset forests.

    Photos
    Digital signboard advertising the “Planting of 30 Million Trees” in Seoul City Hall

     
    Fourth, Seoul will strengthen its marketing abilities for its residents to feel the effects of tree planting and raise public awareness about the importance of tree planting. The city will create and share card news, webtoons, and videos related to tree planting through social media, blogs, and YouTube, as well as aggressively advertise by means of various media, including electronic displays and lights and across public facilities, such as parks, the subway, buses, and Ttareungi bikes, to spread the tree planting culture and promote voluntary participation and active communication.