Monday, February 24, 2014

A Good Day to Die

Monday, 24-Feb-2014 - Veghel - Yes, I did feel as if I were the man standing in front of the tank on Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989, in Beijing.  No, I was not protesting the government slaughter of innocent human beings, I was protesting the cutting down of 21-year-old healthy living beings, alder trees my town had planted in front of my home 17 years ago, shortly after my family moved to the then new residential area Spoorven.  Unlike the Chinese man, I felt certain the tractor driver would not harm me, but I was certain the trees would be cut down if I did nothing.  Township officials Kees van Os, team leader and Jean-Paul de la Roy, project leader, Beheer Openbare Ruimte (Management of Public Space), temporarily postponed cutting down the trees immediately in front of my home, and came to my home for and hour and a half to listen to my proposal to leave six trees standing.  I couldn't convince them to save the trees; however, Mr van Os did promise us he would officially propose putting stricter controls for trees on city and township grounds.  Current rules in the township tree management policy (bomennota) do not require a felling permit for most trees on public ground (see tree map). Without a felling permit requirement, citizens to not have any legal ground to disagree with planned felling of trees--trees that have established themselves to become part of the surrounding environment.  Further, planned felling then falls under a protocol which specifies timely notification to all community residents. The current slogan "de juiste boom op de juiste plaats" (the right tree in the right place) is a deception--a justification for felling trees, not to maintain them, along with the street and sidewalk pavement around them.  Veghel township said a wrong choice of tree was made.  I say this was a well-thought choice and that wrong economic choices are now being made.  Funds for tree and associated pavement maintenance are used for other projects.  It takes 15-20 years to grow a tree.  This requires patience and restraint during economically-challenging periods.  One cannot replace a tree in the same manner as replacing an automobile or a piece of furniture.  I encourage Veghel and its citizens to understand the importance of trees, and to regain the courage to care of them.

When death is inevitable, some humans may say "It's a good day to die."  On this sunny day, after 17 years of service to the residents of Spoorven, these alder trees, stood tall, felt the wind flow through their branches, and accepted their fate.  It was a privilege  and an honor to share moments of my life with them.  I stood by as they were felled--it took 25 minutes.
pics (75)
tree cutting clip (4:04)
alder tree feeling the wind through its branches (36 sec)
alnus spaethii spaeth (Spaeth's alder, the correct name for these trees)
Diemen alder inspection report (Dutch)
kliknieuws (online news Veghel) Citizen of Veghel Takes Action against tree felling Spoorven, 24-feb-2014
brabants dagblad (regional newspaper) 'Chinese' one-man protest against felling of trees in vain Spoorven Veghel, 25-feb-2014

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