Could Eiffel Tower become world's largest tree?

Story highlights

  • French engineering firm unveils plan to adorn Paris monument with 600,000 plants
  • If given the go-ahead, "world's tallest tree" could absorb over 80 tons of CO2, says firm
  • The temporary installation, which will cost $97 million, is likely to face opposition
  • COMMENTS: Pipe-dream or true innovation? Tell us your thoughts below
An engineering firm has unveiled plans to turn the Eiffel Tower into a vast, tree-like monument by cladding its mesh iron body in over 600,000 plants.
The controversial proposal from Ginger -- a French company that specializes in ecological design projects -- would cost $97 million and remove 87.8 tons of carbon dioxide from the Paris skies, according to the company's calculations.
Ginger CEO Jean-Luc Schonebelen concedes that it is probably not the most efficient form of carbon sequestration, but says the idea -- which has so far received no official endorsement from Paris City Council -- could have profound symbolic value.
"We're told that within the next 30 years the world's population may reach nine billion, and that 80% of us will live in cities," says Schonebelen, referring to projections from the U.N. Population Division released earlier this year.
"With this in mind, we need to think about how we're going to start bringing nature back into the city landscape ... so this (proposal) is our call for action."
If Schonebelen has his way, thousands of hemp sacks brimming with soil and 48 varieties of seedlings would be fastened to "La dame de fer" -- or "the iron lady," the tower's French nickname -- by the end of next year.
Irrigated via a 12-ton grid of interconnected rubbing tubing, the plants would likely mature by 2014 and would be nurtured until their removal two years later.
"Of course we're not suggesting this be a permanent fixture, we're proposing this as a temporary installation -- just as Mr Eiffel did when he built the tower back in the 19th century," says Schonebelen.
Staff at Ginger have been developing the mechanics behind the proposal for the past 18 months. The company employs over 1,500 people and has a