Proposal for planting coconut trees on Ho Chi Minh City streets comes under fire

By Mai Khanh, Thanh Nien News

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Coconut trees along Binh Quoi Street in Ho Chi Minh City's Binh Thanh District. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach Coconut trees along Binh Quoi Street in Ho Chi Minh City's Binh Thanh District. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach

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Experts are divided over a proposal by the Vietnam Coconut Association to plant coconut trees along Ho Chi Minh City streets.
“Falling branches from other trees during the rainy season have caused many tragic accidents,” the association chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh said to explain her agency’s recent proposal to the administration.
Coconut trees should be planted along canals and new streets, she said.
“Coconut trees also create scenic landscapes redolent of the southern culture, which will also promote tourism.”
According to the association, the palm’s fibrous root system also absorbs surface water to replenish the dwindling groundwater and reduce flooding, a serious problem in the city.
Each tree bears 60-80 fruits a year and they can be leased out to save costs, and processing coconut products can create jobs and bring an income to a large trade village, it said.
It wants to plant 100,000 trees on 500 km of streets along canals.
But the proposal has met with opposition. Nguyen Trinh Kiem, spokesperson of the Vietnam Parks – Greenery Association, said the plan is inappropriate.
“Urban trees must have large canopies and be safe to passers-by.”
Coconut trees’ roots can damage sidewalks, he warned.
Many people are also concerned that falling coconuts can be dangerous to people below.
Dinh Quang Diep, a lecturer at the HCMC University of Agriculture and Forestry, said the city should spell out the criteria for urban trees rather than issuing a list of banned trees.
“When there are such criteria, there will no longer be controversies over what trees to plant on streets.”

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