Residents in China fight to save wutong trees  
New York Times photo, Shiho Fukada

 NANJING, CHINA --

Nanjing, the fomrer capital of China, lies on the south bank of the Yangtze River and is one of the most beautiful destinations in China, according to TravelChinaGuide.com.

Since the 1950s,  the streets of Nanjing have been lined with wutong trees (also known as London plane trees, Platanus x acerifolia) that stand as tall as a 15-story building with large trunks and pale smooth bark. According to an article recently published in The New York Times by Sharon LaFraniere, residents of Nanjing have grown up with the trees and appreciate the beauty and shade of the wutong. But as of late, the large population of wutongs in Nanjing have been threatened. More and more of the trees are being relocated or completely destroyed in order to make more room for urban development in the ever-growing, fast-paced Chinese city.

According to Times article, the first threat to the wutongs occurred in 1993 when more than 3,000 of them were moved or destroyed overnight to make way for the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway. After that, in 2006, almost 200 more wutongs were removed to build the Nanjing Subway Line Two, a public transportation system. Most recently, Subway Line Three has come in existence this year. As a result, 1,000 wutongs are required to be uprooted and maybe or maybe not replanted to make room for the new railing system.

This time, Nanjing residents fought back. And for the most part, the protest was a successful one.

A grass-roots campaign started online has led to compromise between residents and government officials, says LaFraniere. Although the Subway Line Three will claim 318 trees, more than two-thirds of the trees that were originally going to be moved will be left untouched. Furthermore, the government officials assured residents that the 318 uprooted trees' health will be tracked where they are replanted. Additionally, the government claims every construction plan affecting citizens will be reviewed by a green assessment commission, LaFraniere says.

Posted by Molly Keith

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