Wed, May 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taichung councilor chides plan for 1m trees; city resolute

SEED MONEY:Obtaining young trees to plant does not necessarily require government spending, Taichung’s Construction Bureau director said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Taichung City Councilor Chang Yao-chung (張耀中) yesterday challenged Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung’s (林佳龍) plan to plant 1 million trees in the special municipality by 2022, saying it would require about 800 hectares of land and referring to a failed attempt by the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) at a similar project in New Taipei City.

Chang, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), yesterday said at a city council session that Lin’s plan faces the challenges of budget, space, time and staffing, and that the proposal made in March lacks solid content to demonstrate its viability.

He said Taipower has not made any progress on its tree-planting program — offered in 2009 as ecological compensation for the expansion of its Linkou District (林口) coal-fired power plant — due to difficulties in identifying available space.

A Taipower assessment showed that 800 hectares of land would be needed for the trees, Chang said.

The Kaohsiung City Government in 2012 also proposed planting 1 million trees and planted 2,000 this year on 1.5 hectares of land, suggesting that both municipalities would require at least 750 hectares, Chang added.

Experts he consulted said that 1 million average “road trees” cost about NT$3 billion (US$97.7 million), Chang said.

He asked how the mayor would find the space and money.

In response, Taichung Deputy Mayor Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said the municipal government is taking inventory of available space for the project, including public space, rezoned urban areas, slopes and parks.

The city plans to grow 173 hectares of trees before Lin’s term expires in 2018, he said.

Taichung Construction Bureau Director Huang Yu-lin (黃玉霖) said the special municipality seeks to set aside space in seized land and rezoned urban areas to boost greenery and increase the number of tree-lined avenues.

The Taichung City Government plans to review land under development, such as the Jade Eco Park (清翠園), which covers 67 hectares, as well as boost the number of plants in existing green spaces, he said.

Huang said that his bureau would negotiate a consensus with the Taichung Agriculture Bureau to implement a proposed “public cemetery gardens” special project, as public cemeteries are ideal locations for forestation.

He said sourcing young trees does not always require government spending, adding that the bureau would explore the possibility of planting trees on private land that it leases.

The city plans to allocate an overall budget of NT$2.4 billion to boost vegetation until 2018, Huang said.

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