Replacing felled trees: necessary but insufficient

by Maskil on 3 Apr 2008

According to this recent Ynetnews article:

A newly proposed Knesset bill attempts to combat global warming. The bill, proposed by Knesset Member Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor), stipulates that contractors who cut down trees for construction and development purposes will be required to plant a new tree for each one that they have chopped [down].

Replacing mature felled trees on a one-for-one basis is a necessary but insufficient measure for protect Israel’s urban forest heritage. According to this article in Time magazine (quoted in my blog posting “Does this apply to Israel as well?”):

Simply replanting does not suffice because small, young trees require decades to grow to full size. “A big tree does 60 to 70 times the pollution removal of a small tree,” says David Nowak, a project leader with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, N.Y.

In fact, according to a UK study I read recently (reference not available), a ratio of six saplings planted to replace each mature tree felled is probably the minimum required to restore some sort of balance to the trees’ roles (although this referred to rural rather than urban settings).

MK Pines-Paz deserves our support and praise for championing this piece of legislation. Perhaps in time (although time is a luxury we do not really have) the Green coalition in Israel could introduce more comprehensive legislation to specify the required “tree cover” for all property developments, depending on the density of the project.

Developers should also be required to certify that every effort has been made to accommodate and retain existing mature trees within the site, rather than beginning each project with a totally denuded site. This certification should be backed up by appropriate aerial or satellite photographs with overlays highlighting mature trees to be retained or sacrificed.

Such legislation could also require that mature trees be transplanted rather than simply felled, and that new plantings should be partly in the form of mature transplanted trees rather than saplings.

Creating such a “secondary market” for the removal, care and transplanting of mature trees would not only help us to retain the benefits of these trees for the environment, but would also create opportunities for Israeli arborists (perhaps with the assistance of the KKL-JNF) to develop a new competency and industry segment.

The most shocking commentary on this relatively modest effort to salvage the work of those who cared enough about future generations to plant trees is contained in the final paragraph of the article, which read:

Should the bill pass the required readings in the Knesset, it is up to the Interior Ministry to enforce it. The [Interior] ministry objects to this measure, and is already actively seeking ways to either change or circumvent it.

Little wonder respect for law and order and the rule of law continues to erode at an alarming rate!

Those who witness the illegal felling of trees (especially in the context of property development) should report it to the IUED’s Green Alert advisory service, or to any of the other Israeli conservation bodies.


Substitute trees for a greener world – Israel Activism, Ynetnews

Why Cities are Uprooting Trees – TIME

Altneuland: Does this apply to Israel as well?


Adam Teva V’Din-Israel Union for Environmental Defense

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