Debrecen is embarking on a unique forest plantation. As part of the LIFE IP HungAIRy project, the municipality is planting protective forests in several parts of the city with the intention that all the residents of Debrecen can enjoy the air-purifying effect of the planted trees. The afforestation program was presented at a press conference on September 13, 2022.
As Ákos Balázs, deputy mayor of Debrecen, and head of the Green Working Group, said at one of the sites of the protected forest planting in Tócóvölgy, this program serves the people of Debrecen. In 2019, the city management announced a new environmental policy within the framework of the Debrecen 2030 Program, the aim of which is to include the green idea in all developments. For example, the Civaqua program, which brings the life-giving water of the Tisza to the city, The 10 thousand trees in Debrecen, was launched in the spirit of this. tree planting program, as well as the Green City Program, which makes the lives of those living in housing estates more comfortable, more homely, and greener. All such objectives must be realized with the widest possible social cooperation. This is why the Green Working Group was established, which launched the Future of Debrecen movement.
The working group also dreamed up the Life IP HungAIRy project, which starts today with the preparation of the plantings, which aims to create a green corridor and plant protective forests on the west-northwest side of the city most affected by dust pollution, which, as part of the Civaqua program, will soon be connected to the Tócó water coming through a vein also gives life. The creation of protected forests will serve to improve air quality in Debrecen. During the development of the program, the specialists of the mayor’s office, the eco-managers of Life IP HungAIRy, the employees of the Debrecen City and Economic Development Center, the members of the Green Working Group, the Department of Meteorology of the University of Debrecen, and StrateGIS Kft., with its GIS activities, did a very serious job.
The protective afforestation takes place at 4 locations. In the Tócóvölgy – on the west side of the Tócó River – 6,160 forestry trees will be planted in the ground in an area of 7,700 square meters, and of these, 1,540 small trees are expected to form a mixed maple forest in 10 years, and 1,155 large trees in 20 years. This area will serve several functions, since on the one hand it will be the protected forest, and on the other hand, it is among the city’s goals to create a recreation area and a lake here.
The next location is the area south of Vincellér Street near Tócóvölgy. Here, 17,285 square meters will be afforested. 13,840 forestry trees will also be planted here. Here too, there will be mixed maples, and in 10 years it is expected that 3,460 and in 20 years 2,592 trees will grow from this plantation.
There will be afforestation in an area of 28,733 square meters around the Vértes mansion. A total of 689 small trees – which are older than forest trees – are planted here: small-leaved linden, silver linden and field elm. The protection forest function of this area will be the most significant.
The fourth location is the area of Vezér Street, where 1,671 square meters will be installed. Here, 36 small trees will go into the ground: columnar oak and small-leaved linden. This protected forest will also have a noise protection function.
Katalin Nagy, the eco-manager of Life IP HungAIRy, said about the Life IP HungAIRy project: this is a project that started in 2019 – at the same time as the new environmental policy announced by the city – and will last until 2026 in order to reduce the dust load. 10 settlements in the country participate in it. Every settlement implements its own air quality protection program, however, Debrecen is outstanding in that it is the only place to implement protective forest planting on such a scale. Eco-managers help with the implementation of air quality protection programs, and review air quality plans every two years, and their main task is shaping social attitudes – for example, regarding alternative modes of transport or environmentally friendly wood burning. They draw the attention of different generations to the fact that we need to deal with air quality both on an individual and social level.
Ferenc Krisztián Fülöp, the eco-manager of Life IP HungAIRy, emphasized that the first few years, when the trees must be properly cared for, are very important for the growth of the protected forests to be planted. When these trees grow up, they will not only clean the city’s air but also influence the development of its microclimate. Compared to the temperature of an asphalt surface that heats up in the summer, it can be much cooler in the middle of an extensive park. And this difference in temperature creates an airflow, a weak breeze, which not only has a cooling effect but also helps the process of the flying dust being filtered out of the air by the leaves of the trees. The trees of the conservation forests to be planted now will begin to exert their maximum effect in 20-25 years when these trees will grow and have a large canopy. It is therefore always worthwhile to plant a tree.
Zoltán Váradi, a member of the Green Working Group, drew attention to the importance of planting protected forests because it creates habitat. Here you will find an ideal home for living creatures whose situation may or may not be favorable today. In protected forests, apart from trees, there will be bushes and herbs, which attract other living creatures: insects, and birds. This is biodiversity, and biological diversity, which is very, very important for life. Protected forests, therefore, create a living space that will be beneficial for all living things – not just for us humans.