The privately-owned Abdali development company promises that the new 384,000 sqm commercial center in the heart of Jordan’s capital Amman will offer “lush inviting spaces that beckon and call for your attention.”
“Notice the elements subtly woven into the new downtown’s [sic] environment,” their web marketing person gushed. “Delight in the blossoming urban forest close by, enriching the experience of residents, visitors and all who step into Abdali.”
But the firm fails to mention that the $5 billion project, which also promises to forever transform the Amman skyline and includes 1.7 million sqm of hotel, office, residential, and retail space a la Dubai, will displace 541 trees in the-already brown and sooty concrete jungle.
Sacrificing trees for towers
Abdali originally asked the agriculture ministry if the company could uproot 750 trees in order to make room for its new mixed-use development.
An anonymous source in the ministry told The Jordan Times that the request was denied, and recommendations were made to redo the blueprints to ensure that construction plans accommodate the existing trees.
(For an idea of what that might look like, check out this wonderful Iranian residential complex organized around the site’s trees.)
But the cabinet overruled this decision.
“We were surprised and furious when the Cabinet granted the company approval to cut down the trees,” the official told the paper.
Five for one
Instead of 750 trees, Abdali has received permission to uproot 541, except they are required to plant five trees in Mafraq to compensate for every tree that will be uprooted in the city center.
While 2,705 new trees are a welcome addition to the country’s overall arboreal population and will help to absorb the country’s growing carbon emissions, environmentalists are not satisfied with this agreement and vowed to lobby the government to reverse their decision.
Head of the Jordan Environment Societies Union – a newly-formed collective of green organizations throughout the country – Omar Shoshan told the paper that many of the trees slated to be destroyed are up to 90 years old.
“Amman is turning into a block of cement,” he added.
With the glass and steel of Abdali’s new towering complex added to the concrete mix, trees are fast becoming an ancient relic; this means more pollution, higher temperatures and less natural beauty.
Image of Amman, Jordan framed by trees, Shutterstock