Gia Dinh park in Phu Nhuan district with a total area of 5.8 hectares where the city’s people enjoy playing sports.
While the achieved green space is far behind the standard of necessary trees for each person, the city has difficulty developing more public parks because it lacks land, said Do Van Tam, an official of the Transport Department’s Parks and Greenery Office.
Tam told the Daily the other reason for slow development of greenery was the high cost of tree growing at residential projects which are under construction in suburban areas.
“The growing cost for one square meter of tree is some VND300,000, while the expenditure for caring for the trees annually is also very high. This makes the developers of housing projects reluctant or ignore to reserve land for trees,” he said.
So far, urban traffic control units of the transport department have managed over 61,000 trees along city streets and 10,000 trees in parks and near public buildings with an area of around 690 hectares. To maintain these public trees, the city spends some hundreds of billions of dong each year.
Tam stressed that other projects to build public parks around the city were still undeveloped due mostly to a lack of budget though the city’s related authorities recently initiated a plan to raise the ratio of green space for each person to 7-8 square meters by 2015.
He cited the project to expand Gia Dinh in Phu Nhuan district by 7.6 hectares at a cost of VND120 billion that cannot be developed for many years.
In 1998, the city intended to spend some VND90 billion for compensation for site clearance of 17 families and state-owned offices in downtown Tao Dan park to take back seven hectares of land to grow trees, but after over 10 years the city has not completed site clearance.
According to the Transport Department’s initial plan to increase the city’s green space according to the fast population growth, the city needs to grow 79 hectares of large public parks in central areas and grow 30,000 trees along the streets.
Tam also says developers of housing projects which are under construction around the city need to invest some VND12 trillion to grow 3,932 hectares of trees and smaller parks as a requirement for the development of residential projects in the city.
“This greenery target needs large investment capital and I think the investors cannot afford it, so the target for expanding green space in the city seems hard to be feasible,” he added.
Cao Tung Son, vice head of the Environment Management Office of the city’s Natural Resources and Environment Department, said the green space not only played an important role in keeping the city’s beauty, but also helped protect people’s health from urban noise and respiratory diseases from air pollution.
Son said growing trees in the city seemed easier said than done because of lack of budget and land, or, to speak frankly, the city’s authorities lack determination to increase the green space.
For example, he said, the city plans to relocate over 1,400 manufacturers causing environmental pollution from central districts to suburban areas with an initial aim to create more land for developing green space. However, it turns out that very few public parks are built while more housing and residential projects are being prepared for development on empty lots.
Son judges that if the city’s authorities are not determined to develop green space, the city will never reach its target of 7-8 square meters of green space.
He also noted that some public parks are threatened as some investors intend to build underground car parks in the downtown area.