A planting operation involving 223,400 trees has begun in a new forest north-west of the capital.
The new Pierrelaye-Bessancourt forest, in Val d’Oise, 20km from Paris, is a “green lung” which, in six to eight years’ time, will contain one million trees spread over 1,340 hectares.
After this time it will take 30 to 50 years for the woodland to mature.
“This is a forest which will create a green lung between the forests of Montmorency and Saint-Germain-en-Laye,” said Anne Locatelli-Bielhmann, director of the Syndicat mixte d'aménagement de la plaine de Pierrelaye-Bessancourt, the organisation in charge of the project.
The first trees of the future forest were planted in 2019, on former farmland, polluted by years of agricultural spreading.
“This emblematic forestry development will contribute to the development of biodiversity, to the fight against atmospheric pollution and climate change,” the SMAPP said, adding that “€84.5million is being invested in the creation of the wood.”
When the forest is completed, it will be open to the public, who will be able to wander through 30 different types of tree, including oaks, maples, cherry trees and rosehips, selected by the Office national des forêts.
The trees have been chosen specifically for their durability and resistance to damage from external factors such as insects and rodents.
Pierrelaye-Bessancourt is not the first man-made forest to have been created in France: The Landes forest in Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the largest artificially planted woodland in Western Europe.
It covers around one million hectares, but, as a pine plantation, is not designed to help combat the climate crisis.