Tree pruning in Athens in April destroys nests and sparks outrage

The tree pruning in downtown Athens in April caused outrage in the public and organizations involved in protecting the environment, animals and birds.

The unprecedented pruning this year was actually done in the middle of spring, at a time when birds are nesting and many nests are full – or better said, were full – of incubating eggs.

The Panhellenic Federation for the Protection of Animals and 30 societies for the protection of the environment and animals signed a joint letter of protest calling on local authorities and the government to stop the destruction of the city’s trees and the lives that live on them.

Greeks, outraged by the brutal and apparently unprofessional tree pruning in April in downtown Athens and other cities, have posted embarrassing photos on social media. They refer to the directive EU of 2009, according to which the destruction of nests is prohibited and illegal.

Some citizens suspect that everything happened in the traditional Greek way – pruning contracts were given to contractors who have nothing to do with such issues, but are good at dealing with kickback issues.

“In recent days, residents of Athens and many other municipalities in Greece have been unpleasantly surprised to see literally cut down trees in the squares and streets,” the organizations note in their letter of protest.

Green areas with large trees and the biodiversity they contain are very important components of nature in cities. Trees perform a number of indispensable ecosystem services: microclimate regulation, absorption of gaseous pollutants, aesthetic enjoyment and recreation, flood protection, shading in summer, etc. In addition, during the spring months, they are a nesting place for many bird species living in our cities.”, – among other things in a letter of protest.

The municipalities in charge of green space management and tree care seem to be unaware of all of the above.

The trees are pruned in such a drastic way that almost only the trunk remains. They removed the entire crown and left the image of mutilated and decapitated trees that have completely lost their natural shape. To make matters worse, this all happens in the spring when the birds already have nests, resulting in large numbers of eggs and/or chicks falling to the ground, usually fatal.

The protesters are reminded thatEuropean Directive 2009/147 on the conservation of wild birds provides in Article 5 that any destruction or damage to bird nests and eggs is prohibited. Therefore, the harmful practice of such pruning during the breeding season of birds is not only unacceptable, but also illegal.”

Also, for the first time, the new European Union Biodiversity Strategy 2030 clearly recognizes the importance of the urban environment in the conservation of biodiversity, speaks of the need for an ecological orientation of urban areas and sets the goal of returning nature to cities.

“For the above reasons, we consider it necessary to immediately change the approach of municipalities and the state to the issue of urban greening. In particular, we ask:

All those who cut trees in the municipalities must be certified – they must be trained in forestry techniques.

Prepare a pruning manual, which, in accordance with the law, must be used by all competent government agencies that perform pruning. This guide should outline:

  1. what types of trees should be pruned in an urban environment and when, in accordance with the principles of forestry,
  2. Appropriate pruning practices so that trees maintain their health and at the same time continue to benefit from the ecosystem services they offer (climate regulation, shading, reduction of air pollution, preservation of aesthetic and ecological functions).

Legislation should prohibit any pruning of trees during nesting and chick development, i.e. between March and June.

Organizations that signed the appeal:

1 Kingfisher
3. Arion
5. Wildlife Conservation Network – SaveWild
6. Action for Wildlife
7. Hellenic Society for the Protection of Environment and Culture
8. Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature
10 Friends of the National Garden Society
12. Ιανθη
13 Callisto
14. Citizens’ Movement for the Protection of Philopappos.
16. Ecological Alliance
17. Ecological Awakening-Natura di Zante
18. Ecological Recycling Company
19. Panhellenic Animal Welfare Federation
20. Piraeus Observatory
21. Citizens’ Association in favor of Streams – ROH
22. Tulipa Goulimi
23 Philodaski Association of Athens
24. Friends of Nature
25. Cut it Right – Active Citizens for the Protection of Trees
26. Mamagea
27. Medasset
28. Medina
29. Mom
30. Save Your Hood

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