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New giant forest to give Paris ‘green lungs’

Plans to plant a forest up to four times the size of New York’s Central Park 

Paris could soon gain a new “green lung” as plans to plant a forest up to four times the size of New York’s Central Park 30km to the northwest of the city gain momentum.

Much of the 1,300 hectare site covering the plain of Pierrelaye-Bessancourt is currently used as a fly tip. It is bordered by roads and fringed by urban development.

Farmers used sludge from Paris’s sewers for years to fertilise the fields, leading to a build-up of pollutants, including heavy metals. It meant market gardening had to be banned in the area in 2000.

Now a syndicate of 10 local authorities, called SMAPP, is pushing though a €85million plan to plant a million trees and create a bio-diverse space out of the polluted wasteland.

If all goes to plan the first trees should be planted in 2019.

“The area faces major ecological problems” said Bernard Tailly, the president of SMAPP.

“Thanks to this project it will be opened again to new uses and to the public.

“The future forest will be open to leisure activities and the preservation of bio-diversity.”

Naturalists have long identified the area as a “missing link” between other protected sites around Paris and see the future forest playing an important role in the environment.

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