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AIPH International Green City Conference

China: Explaining the role of urban greening in creating clean, healthy cities

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) International Green City Conference, held on 11th September in Beijing, gathered distinguished speakers from around the world to explain the role of plants and trees in creating clean and healthy cities.

Mr Bill Hardy, Chair of the AIPH Green City Committee, welcomed conference participants, saying “Never before have our living landscapes been so important to our collective wellbeing”. Keynote speaker Professor Xinxiao Yu of Beijing Forestry University presented findings from his extensive research that provide evidence of the role of plants and trees in reducing PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns) and the removal of other airborne particulate matter. By planting a mixture of broadleaf and evergreen species with high survival rates, Professor Xinxiao Yu’s results reveal that trees in Beijing help to provide the city with the equivalent of 15 extra blue-sky days each year.

Dr Yibo Xu, Partner and Principle Architect at Stefano Boeri Architetti China, explained how beautiful and impressive Vertical Forest projects contribute to greening in cities where space is limited. Advances in technology are making it possible to construct buildings with Vertical Forests more cost-effectively.

AIPH’s Technical Advisor, Dr Audrey Gerber presented ways in which ‘living green’, such as hedges, green walls and indoor plants, can be incorporated into cities. Combined with knowledgeable plant selection, Dr Gerber advocated the capacity of plants for improving air quality on a local scale. Professor Paul Monks of Leicester University illustrated the greater complexities of air quality improvement solutions on a city scale and the role of trees as a barrier and an absorber of particles. Yet, he also urged caution saying “We must not overstate the benefits of trees for improving the air quality in cities – they are part of a broader solution.

On the theme of ecological development, a number of landscaping projects in China were showcased. Mr Yu Bo, Mayor of Yanqing District People’s Government, described the benefits of the Yanqing district and how natural beauty is valued and conserved. Mr Gao Dawei, Deputy Director General of Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, presented ambitious plans to expand Beijing’s plantings by 66,000 hectares within the next 5 years, including creating a series of urban parks between the 4th and 5th Ring Roads. Overall, these parks can increase vegetation cover by 11%. Mr Li Zheng, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Chongming District Committee and Mayor of Chongming District People’s Government, explained the activities in Chongming, adjacent to the Yangtze River, that contribute to the quality of the environment and human well-being.

Final speaker, Ms Judith van der Poel, finished the day with a presentation on a series of beautiful landscapes in the Netherlands and China, created by Niek Roozen bv. Responding to the urgent need for intelligent and considered landscape design to contribute to clean and healthy cities, Ms van der Poel stated that the plant selection for these projects was made in accordance with the AIPH Green City principles laid down in the Green City Guidelines.

The AIPH International Green City Conference was held as part of the 71st AIPH Annual Congress and World Ornamental Horticulture Summit 2019, Beijing. The Summit was sponsored by Pera Events, Royal FloraHolland and Dümmen Orange. FloraCulture International was an event media partner.

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