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Madrid’s mango-scented tarmac reignites residents’ anger over chopped trees

Residents questioned why the city council didn’t just plant real fruit trees, given they also mitigate the soaring temperatures in summer.
Residents questioned why the city council didn’t just plant real fruit trees, given they also mitigate the soaring temperatures in summer. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Residents questioned why the city council didn’t just plant real fruit trees, given they also cool cities down in summer.

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As Madrid begins an ambitious renovation of hundreds of streets, the potent smell of newly laid asphalt is overwhelming some areas.

Authorities have come up with what they thought was a winning idea to tackle the issue - make the road surface mango-scented.

While the fruity fragrance is effective in disguising the odour of fresh tarmac, residents are both baffled and unimpressed.

Taking to social media, madrileños questioned why the city council didn’t just plant real fruit trees, given they also mitigate the soaring temperatures in summer. In the last two years, the city council has cut down almost 9,000 trees.

Madrid council covers the capital’s streets in mango-scented tarmac

This week, the exotic scent of mango filled one street in the centre of Spain’s capital after the council resurfaced the roads with aromatic asphalt.

Although Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida said people with an “especially large pituitary” would appreciate the move, one resident said the scent was so strong she felt dizzy and had to close her windows.

The fruity addition to the tarmac is part of Madrid’s wider Operation Asphalt to improve the condition of 323 of the city’s roads.

Madrid council chops down thousands of trees

Beyond the scent not appealing to everyone, some of Madrid’s residents have called out the city council over its decision not to plant fruit trees instead.

In the last two years, authorities have cut down almost 9,000 trees. Trees have been proven to cool down urban environments - much needed in landlocked Madrid.

Martínez-Almeida hit back at social media criticism saying 5,000 of the trees have been replaced in the last two years.

But 90 per cent were concentrated in the outskirts districts of Fuencarral-El Pardo and Hortaleza while some areas of the centre have none at all, news site the Local reports.

Trees function as natural air conditioners, creating a cooling microclimate. In a tree's shade, temperatures can be up to 20 degrees lower than in direct sunlight.

A recent EU study found that increasing tree coverage to 30 per cent in European cities could reduce deaths linked to the “urban heat island” effect - where heat is trapped between tall buildings and absorbed by asphalt and concrete.

As Europe faces another summer of sweltering heatwaves, trees are more important than ever for mitigating deadly outcomes.

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