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Residents protest felling of 50 trees in Brussels street

15:56 05/03/2018
While people living on Rue Berkendael in Forest are watching their beloved birch trees be destroyed, a new web site is mapping what it considers to be the capital’s most exceptional trees

Despite a month-long protest by residents, 51 healthy birch trees are being cut down on Rue Berkendael in Forest. The trees must go due to works in the street carried out by the Vivaqua water utility.

According to Forest authorities, the root systems are also responsible for some damage to front stoops on the street, which runs between Albert and Brugmann avenues. The name of the street – Berkendael – literally means Birch Valley.

The felling began today, as about a dozen residents and their kids gathered in protest. “Brussels has such a problem with air quality, and then they just cut down 51 trees,” Rue Berkendael resident Louis Meuleman told Bruzz. “If you cut down the trees, you’re also changing the very essence of this street for the next 20 years.”

The Brugmann-Berkendael-Albert neighbourhood committee has been arguing since last year that the works could be carried out without felling the trees. The municipality disagreed but promised to plant 38 new trees on the street at some point in the future.

Wood Wide Web

These trees will not be around long enough to make it onto a new website: Wood Wide Web collects information on 120 of Brussels’ largest, oldest or otherwise most unique trees. Launched by creative agency 32shoot, the site maintains a virtual map, searchable by kind of tree, that tells you where the tree is located and why it was chosen.

Some of the trees are smack dab in the city, beloved by neighbourhood residents, while others are in parks or on the edge of town, bordered by grazing cattle on one side and construction works on the other.

A co-operative project that also involves Brussels heritage agency, Wood Wide Web includes ecological information about the trees, as well as any local stories built up around them. “We want it to be more than a scientific catalogue of trees,” a 32shoot spokesperson told Bruzz. “We also try to bring out their sensual aspects.”

Photo: Anthéa Missy/Facebook

Written by Lisa Bradshaw