Vilnius Presents Tactics to Fight Climate Change: Thousands of Trees and Millions of Shrubs to Be Planted in Streets

World countries have already started taking steps towards tackling climate change—over 100 global leaders have agreed on reducing deforestation by 2030 in the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. In line with other ongoing global green projects, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has its own strategy for fighting the climate crisis—a community-inclusive Green Wave initiative, which plans to expand the tree canopy cover within the city, promote afforestation, and upgrade the city streets over the next two years.

During the last weekend of October around 200 Vilnius residents got together for the first time to collectively plant over 1,000 dogwood shrubs and more than 70 trees—maples and birches—in one of the main streets in the city centre. Increasing the greenery in the avenue, characterized by a constant heavy traffic, is expected to set an example for other streets to follow the tree planting wave.

This marks the first step of the initiative, which is slated to be an ongoing process with the main goal of planting over 100K trees, 10M shrubs, and 300K climbing vines over the entire duration of the project. The initiative aims for the residents, visitors, and businesses to reach sustainable goals together and feel inspired by millions of plants decorating the horizontal and vertical surfaces of the capital as well as 2000 kilometers of city streets vibrant with greenery. Businesses were quick to respond to the open call to join the initiative and have already planted a number of trees.

“We are giving a new meaning to the words “avenue” and “street.” As an essential part of the city, sometimes they look more like a highway than a community-friendly space. However, all of us want to live in a cozy street where it’s nice to catch up with a neighbor, chat with friends on a bench, ride a bike, and enjoy the greenery,” Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius, said. “We are going to do so much more to fully revamp the concept of a “city street” throughout the duration of the Green Wave initiative.”

The Green Wave project joins other sustainable initiatives in the capital. One of them— the first urban forest in the city with over 700 trees. The pilot project, initiated by several Vilnius-based businesses, is designed to establish a biodiverse ecosystem within the city and encourage the community to follow the example of increasing afforestation.

Moreover, Vilnius has launched a new project to make its streets both greener and more appealing to the residents and the visitors—the Harmonized Standard of Streets, which will transform the pedestrian and traffic zones, following the New York street layout model.

Aside from expanding the urban tree canopy cover, the capital has also made arrangements to ban burning coal and peat pellets from 2023 to reduce the smog and pollution in the city.