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Green Giant.

A French urban planning consultancy wants to drape the Eiffel Tower's mass of wrought-iron struts and rivets with a mantle of 600,000 plants.

The idea, which so far has not been endorsed by Paris City Hall or the company that operates the Eiffel Tower, would transform the 300-meter structure into something akin to a very tall, and living, Christmas tree.

Ginger, the consultancy promoting the idea, issued a statement saying the project would symbolize the reconciliation of nature and mankind as the world's population heads for nine billion, seven billion of whom would live in urban areas. "Should it not be the duty of engineers to imagine a new future where nature is brought back into the heart of the city?" the statement said.

Clad in a new coat of living greenery, the Eiffel Tower could be expected to provide a perch for many insects and birds, among them perhaps the not-so-welcome pigeons that irritate many city-dwellers.

There's also the question of whether the tower, covered in plants, would resemble a disguised cell phone tower more than any earthly tree.

According to Le Figaro newspaper, which leaked many of the technical aspects of the proposal, the idea would be to start work in early 2012 by connecting 12 tons of tubing to the tower's struts. Thousands of hemp or sackcloth bags carrying soil and a large variety of plants would be added gradually, working from the bottom upwards in the same way as a plant grows, over the second half of 2012.

The project would amount to the most ambitious remake in the life of the tower, originally built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World's Fair. Some 200 million people have visited the tower since its construction, making it the world's most visited paid monument and perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Paris.

The plan to green the tower is, for now, only a pipe dream. Following the leak in Le Figaro, SETE, the company that operates the tower, issued a statement saying neither it nor Paris City Hall was associated with the proposal.

--REUTERS, 11/30

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Title Annotation:Europe; proposal to add plants to the Eiffel Tower
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Mar 16, 2012
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