The authorities of Ho Chi Minh City have vowed to plant half a million trees this year, in line with Vietnam’s nationwide effort to plant one billion trees within the next five years. Announced last year by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the ambitious plan aims to offset long-term effects of extreme weather such as floods and landslides.

Accordingly, 1,500 saplings were planted last week in Thu Duc, Saigon’s newly-formed sub-city, and a further 34,000 were distributed for planting among Thu Duc’s 34 wards. Speaking at the tree planting event, HCMC chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong admitted that with Saigon’s total park area currently at 500 hectares, or a mere 0.55 square metres per resident, the city is still far off the desired seven square metres of parks per resident.

A leafy view from Saigon’s Independence Palace, as captured by Alessio Roversi / Unsplash.

To help narrow the gap, the authorities are working to build a number of public parks in the coming years, a move which would add 450 hectares of parks in HCM City by 2030. Currently slated for consideration are new parks in Thu Duc, Tan Binh, Hoc Mon and Cu Chi, as well as in Districts 7 and 12. There are also plans to plant 6,000 trees around the city in roadside pavements.

In his speech on Sunday, the city’s chairman stressed that economic growth must go hand in hand with growing environmental awareness, also adding that Ho Chi Minh City was going to model its transportation and infrastructure after several major cities from around the world which excel at sustainable development.

Out of the one billion trees to be planted in Vietnam by 2025, 690 million trees will be planted in urban and rural areas and 310 million in forests. With pollution and natural disasters taking an ever greater toll on the Vietnamese economy, trees are now seen as a vital component of Vietnam’s response to the wide-ranging effects of industrialisation and climate change.