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Experts Say Saigon Needs A Plan To Preserve Ancient Trees

Saigon residents voiced their displeasure after 51 trees, some 150 years old, were uprooted and axed to make room for the new Saigon Opera House metro station. This sentiment was echoed by urban tree expert, Nguyen Trinh Kiem, in a recent interview with Thanh Nien, saying that authorities should do more to protect one of the city’s most valuable natural resources.

Of the 51 trees removed in front of the Opera House, only 2 were relocated, with the rest auctioned off for their wood. 12 were 150-year old dầu trees (Dipterocarpus alatus), an endangered upper-canopy tree native to Southeast Asia. 

“The square's Lim xẹt and liễu rũ trees should have been uprooted and moved to another sites and then replanted along the metro line when construction finished,” said Kiem.

Architect Hoang Truc Hao shared Kien’s view, saying that preserving ancient trees, which he called “vestiges,” should be in the city’s master plan so they are not thoughtlessly cut down.

“It’s necessary to sacrifice the trees for urban transit projects. But the green area should be restored [after construction work is complete]," senior architect Hoang Dao Kinh concluded.

These ancient trees are intertwined with the city’s DNA, providing it with much needed greenery, shade and beauty. Hopefully city authorities quickly realize their value and give them the respect they deserve.

[Thanh Nien]

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