Trees for a sick city

23/06/2008

I finished studying forestry in 1992; it reads like a life ago. I did study in Santiago, medicine Chile and one of my first decisions was to leave the city. Actually I was thinking of leaving Santiago well before completing the degree.

When people ask me about going to Chile and their intention to visit Santiago my first thought is always ‘Why?’ Despite of tourist brochures, viagra buy and the not always reliable ‘Lonely Planet’ guide, grip the city is a shit hole. A five million people city, spread ad infinitum, with the consequent crime, pollution and neurosis. However, a redeeming — for me — feature of that city is that some of my friends live there. One of my friends is trying to sort out pollution (or at least part of it) using trees.

I grew up having the Andes as a point of reference, and when one can see them, they are very impressive.

Santiago

Photo by Felipe Trucco.

The problem is that a lot of the time — particularly in winter — the city looks like this.

HDR-Santiago,Chile

Photo by .S.

Besides the visual difference, there is a lot of particulate materials that have very negative effects on health. Here is that trees come into place.

‘Traditional’ foresters tend to be suspicious about ‘Urban forestry’, but it is an approach that could benefit Santiago. Trees would contribute to reduce the amount of small particles suspended in the air, not the least by stabilizing land areas now simply covered by dirt. These areas become all muddy under rain and are transformed into dust sources when they dry up.

Have a look at AnisotrĂ³pico (Marcelo’s blog) for details. He also setup a handy KMZ file (16 KB) for checking the data of the EMC stations monitoring air quality in Santiago through Google Earth.

Filed in chile, environment

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