China Plans 'Necklace' of Trees to Combat Beijing Smog, and Suggests Installing Massive Ventilation Tunnels

Beijing smog
People cycle in Beijing smog REUTERS/Jason Lee

Despite attempts to clean up the country, China’s pollution is worsening. Officials in Hebei Province are trying to combat smog and pollution in the region by planting a “necklace” of trees around Beijing, according to a report released by the Hebei local government.

The Hebei region is known for its coal producing factories that create pollution and cause Beijing’s thick fog. Authorities have tried fining companies and investing in green energy, but now it is looking to nature to help.

The green necklace plan was announced Thursday, and aims to increase forest cover on the hills surrounding China’s capital. Ventilation corridors are needed to blow the smog away, said a report published in early March on the Hebei government’s provincial website. Still winds have been blamed for increasing smog in Beijing, and five large ventilation corridors have been planned, 0.3 miles wide, to run through the city.

Trees can help with smog problems . Studies show that trees can reduce smog by intercepting particles that already exist in the air, and can also lower air temperature by evapotranspiration.

Jun Yang, an associate professor at the Center for Earth System Science at Tsinghua University, wrote about the plan in The Conversation: “The cooling effect this has reduces the need for energy-using fans and air conditioners, which further lowers emissions. Also, the rates of photochemical reactions in the urban atmosphere are slowed down by the lowered air temperature and less secondary air pollutants are produced.

“The species of trees to use and where to plant more than 100 million of them can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of this control measure in Beijing.”

It is not the first time China has used trees to halt global warming. Trees have been planted near the Gobi Desert in Outer Mongolia to halt desertification.

Critics of the plan suggest there are cheaper ways to cut emissions and pollution in Beijing. “Cutting Hebei steel emissions would be both cheaper and faster, but that is widely perceived as too hard,” Andrew Hove, an associate director of research at the Beijing branch of the Paulson Institute, wrote, The New York Times reported.