Hanoi has announced plans to fell dozens of decades-old trees to make way for two stations of the city's first elevated rail line, a seemingly inescapable move that will nonetheless spark a few debates about urban development and green space.
A statement from Hanoi’s urban railway management board said 19 trees will have to be cut down by January 20. Eight others will be removed and replanted elsewhere.
There is at least one tree of the rare and protected sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis) species among those on the chopping block.
The city has already moved and cut more than 50 trees to serve the construction of the rail line, which will run from Tu Liem District to Hanoi Railway Station, to connect the city’s western part with its downtown area.
Work on the 12-kilometer line started in September 2010. Another 231 trees will be either felled or removed for the next stages of construction.
The project, with a cost estimate of 780 million euros (US$1.14 billion), is funded by France and the Asian Development Bank.
Le Huy Hoang, deputy director of the urban management board, said the project is slated to complete in 2018. The contractor is supposed to replant trees along the line after that.
Hanoi received strong public criticism last year for a massive tree-cutting plan that envisaged chopping down 6,700 trees lining the city’s thoroughfares.
Public outrage helped axe the plan in March, after 500 trees had already been felled.