Trees about town

Imagine you live on the 27th floor of a building, high in the sky. Yet on a bright morning, you reach out of your window and pluck a ripe apple from a tree for breakfast.

Too good to be true? Well, no. Let WoW! whisk you off to Italy, to the bustling and beautiful city of Milan, as we celebrate the International Day of Forests.

Listen to our podcast: Alastair & Clarisse discuss ‘Trees about town’

And yes, you’re right. Milan isn’t in a forest. But its people have been inviting the forest into the city. Take a look, for instance, at this apartment building. It’s called Bosco Verticale in Italian. Do you what that means? 

The builders planted 20,000 plants, including 800 trees like apple and cherry, all the way up it, over 100 metres. So yes, its name means “Vertical Forest”.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Simona is a lady who lives there.“It’s wonderful,” she told the French newspaper Le Figaro. “Living here is like nothing else. We’re right in touch with the plants–but still right in the centre of town in a super-modern skyscraper.”

“The plants, the flowers, the little birds-it really moves me and it can help you relax,” Simona told the American website The Verge

Like Milan, lots more cities around the world want to bring forests into town. The United Nations, which brings the world’s countries together, plans a Great Green Wall for Cities.

It wants to plant so many trees in cities by 2030 that they would cover a million football pitches. Why? Well, because it’s getting hotter around the world.

Factories, cars, air conditioning, are all not just polluting our air, as we heard in the last issue of My WoW! Time. They are also giving off heat. And that heat builds up in growing cities, trapped in all that concrete.

So the trees are not just there to look nice.

They also soak up pollution and give off oxygen. They also give off humidity–water in the air–and of course they shade us from the sun. All that can mean a drop in temperature in a city of between 0.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. Magic. Thanks trees!

Discover more in detail in this video of Milan’s Bosco Verticale, a pair of residential high-rises with greenery designed to suck pollution out of the air.

Singapore is a hot city that has got the message. It has six million people and… three million trees, with more being planted all the time. There are gardens on skyscrapers, greenhouses and parks packed onto the island covered by the city. Among them is “The Tree House”, the biggest vertical garden in the world. It helps keep homes cool, naturally.

Photo by Sergio Sala on Unsplash

It takes a lot of work. About a dozen gardeners work every day at the Tree House.

“I see butterflies and birds. There are even worms,” one of them, called Uzal, told the French TV station France 2. “It’s just what I love. It’s natural. It’s incredible!”

Trees about town are pretty great. They provide homes for wildlife, clean our air and keep us cool. Some people even like stroking them. Or talking to them. Shall we give that a try? In any case, let’s say a big ‘thank you, trees!’.

Listen to our podcast: Alastair & Clarisse discuss ‘Trees about town’

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