Spanish Culture and News

Madrid’s leafless future…

Mayor Gallardon has promised to plant 254,000 new trees in Madrid before the end of 2007. The plan is to cover the mess left by work on the M-30 ring road with urban forest parks, that will cover twelve times the area currently occupied by Madrid’s one and only real expanse of green, the city centre’s giant Retiro park.

Sounds great, until you listen to what the opposition has to say. Pedro Santí­n, the PSOE Environmental Director for Madrid points out that a new tree requires at least 50 square meters to survive, whereas Gallardons plans leave just 13 square meters per tree. “This means that in the space provided, the council can only plant 67,000 new trees with guarantees of survival”, said Santí­n, “if they plant 254,000 in two years, 95 percent will die due to lack of space”.

So will common sense win the day? A quarter of a million trees is such a succulent number, so appealing to the public imagination in a city with so few trees, that no doubt they will be planted anyway, water shortages will continue to prevail, and indeed many of the trees will die.

This is certainly the opinion of Rosa Villalba, a Retiro tree surgeon interviewed this week in 20 Minutos, who is fed up with seeing 40 year old trees ripped up and replaced by a dozen doomed saplings. “In 50 years we won’t see a single tree when we look upwards. We’ll just see empty sky,” she predicts, “the future is anything but green. In Madrid, at the rate were going, they’ll have to give us a bottle of oxygen to be able to survive. We’ll have to pay to breathe.” Now there’s optimism for you…