Trees shade the sun and filter the air. They look good and give us peace of mind. Why does our government rush to cut down trees? Is it a random act of green violence, or is there more behind this? There are lots of blog posts about this topic and a facebook page dedicated to stopping it.
The point of the Izala campaign, as far as I can tell, is to do two things:
- Stop people from claiming public land as their own by planting a ‘wall of trees’ around public land adjacent to their home.
- Make sure that a 1 meter wide strip adjacent to the street is free of any physical barriers (trees, lights, landscape elements, etc) so that pedestrian access is not blocked.
We can all agree that building a wall of trees to claim public land is basically property theft. It’s very easy to spot that and remove the trees. The point of contention is how to deal with isolated trees that are too close to the street. The problem is that low wage workers are given clear instructions to cut down anything that is planted a certain distance from the street. There is no subtlety to it, no way to appeal the process and it’s simple enough that any guy with a chainsaw could do it.
In Toronto, as with most developed cities, it is against the law to cut down a tree unless you are qualified and authorized to do so:
“Trees protected by city by-laws may not be removed, injured or destroyed in any way without written authorization from the city. And that covers all parts of the tree—roots included. Tree pruning and root cutting may only be done by the City of Toronto, Urban Forestry Services. No exceptions.”
I think what should happen is that for these isolated cases (such as in the image above) the owner should be given notice to appeal. Let’s say the owner is given 1 week to either relocate the tree (onto private property, or sold to a nursery) or appeal the decision. The example in the image is a great case because the owner could argue that there is enough room for people to walk alongside the tree, it’s not blocking access. There is enough room for a wheelchair to pass.
I do applaud their efforts in trying to make sure that people can walk safely in our neighborhoods. They cut down a few of our trees that were a little too close to the curb. What I don’t appreciate is that it’s being done in such a brutal and inflexible way. If they care so much about pedestrian access, they should also start slapping tickets on all parked cars that block the pedestrian path. Now that would be something.
If you feel like that’s not enough and you want to fight back, try Guerrilla Gardening.