Council bans construction of high-rise buildings in Tehran gardens

March 13, 2018

TEHRAN — Construction of the towering buildings in gardens in the capital was prohibited by the Tehran city council on Tuesday, Mehr news agency reported.

The city of Tehran was first chosen as the capital of Iran by Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty in 1796. 

Large scale demolition and rebuilding began in the 1920s, and Tehran has been a destination for mass migrations from all over Iran since the 20th century.

The populous city of Tehran with a population of some 9 million was once covered with 14,000 hectares of gardens which shrank to some 9,000 over the past few decades. 

Things got worse when in 2004 the city council approved a law authorizing construction of high-rise buildings in gardens provided that the building only covers 30 percent of the land area. 

However, in practice more than 70 percent of the gardens went under construction, most probably in order to provide decent parking space for the residents, and the rest were negatively affected by the construction works.

Accordingly, many trees were brutally cut down and many other intentionally or unintentionally dried up and the outcome is a barren city encompassed with towering buildings and a city deprived of proper wind circulation. Wind circulation is a well transporter for air pollutants in urban areas.

Just recently, after 14 years the law was repealed by the city council in a bid to protect the remaining gardens and minimizing the damage. 

Benefits of urban vegetation

According to Mohammad Darvish, environmental activist and the board member at Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands, more than 70 percent of Tehran vegetation has been destroyed over the past 60 years and the aforesaid law exacerbated the situation. 

According to Cool California, one reason to increase trees and other vegetation in every community is their ability to cool buildings and neighborhoods, which can reduce building energy use and heating and cooling costs.

Trees can lower outdoor air temperatures by as much 5 centigrade through evapotranspiration. In large urban parks trees can help create a cool oasis that affects local wind pattern. Fluctuations in the density of cooler air in parks and warmer air in the urban areas generate cooling breezes, which can extend to the surrounding neighborhoods as well. 

Moreover, trees and vegetation can help cool buildings by providing shade from direct sunlight. This in turn reduces the need for air-conditioning which results in large energy savings and cost savings in hot and sunny climates.

And most notably trees and plants are a natural carbon sink. In order to grow, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into oxygen and sugars through photosynthesis.

While metropolises are struggling with everlasting air pollution, plants clean the air of pollutants, such as particulate matter. The pores of leaves remove dangerous compounds including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone from the air.

Trees and plants have many other health benefits. Increased shade limits human exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays as well as helping decrease health impacts from summertime heat waves. Trees and vegetation help to beautify communities and create more pleasant and enjoyable surroundings. A good row of trees can serve as an effective sound barrier between homes and urban noise pollution, such as traffic. Other studies have found that urban trees are associated with reduced crime, increased property values, and other psychological and social benefits that help decrease stress and aggressive behavior which is rampant in urban areas.

However, regardless of all the benefits we keep constructing more buildings and approving laws to make the heinous act legal. Legalizing the damage we are inflicting upon the environment does not make it less harmful, it simply justifies it.

MQ/PA

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