Cutting down trees in the Bois de Vincennes for the good of the forest? Unions protest

It was very cold in the Bois de Vincennes that Tuesday. For some, CE1-CE2 children from the riverside school, wearing boots, swing sticks and gardening tools, busy replanting trees. It’s an operation to bring some biodiversity to the forest, explain Vincennes Wood Division agents overseeing the operation.

Marie-Noëlle Bernard of the National Tree Monitoring Group told storm agents: “But you’ve cut down all these trees that are doing so well, and the rest will now be blown away.” This insurance expert turned local referent for the Tree Protection Association came to show 20 minutes He is concerned about the many “clear cuts” that the city of Paris has made in the forest.

“When we cut down forests, we kill animal feed”

Are these cuts fair and necessary to protect the forest? This is the question that divides the two environmental communities on the one hand, among others, and the city of Paris on the other. According to the document 20 minutes when achieved, it plans to conduct what the administration defines as “thinning” — “a selective cultivation operation that gradually reduces the number of stems by dosing a mixture of species” — or “clearing” — operations aimed at eliminating competition from certain crops. species – on 49 and 16 hectares for 2022-2023, respectively.

The amount of trees cut down is considered excessive and dangerous for the future of the Bois de Vincennes, and the National Tree Monitoring Group believes that thinning is nothing more than clear-cutting: “When we cut down forests, we feed animals, we kill living things. a place for wildlife to hide and feed,” explains a local referent. According to the arboreal management plan for 2021-2035, an average of about 18 hectares was “thinned” annually between 2006 and 2020, which is Much less than planned for 2023. But for Aurélia Chavanne, a forestry engineer at the Bois de Vincennes, this is because “the felling operations in 4 or 5 years are for the bigger trees, because these are the trees that grew after the 1999 storm, but these are the same experiences.

A document obtained by 20 Minutes details the 2022-2023 tree cuts. – AL

Cutting down century-old trees

In a February 2022 article, naturalist Etienne Piechaud was concerned about these cuts, believing they were causing a “loss of biodiversity” and deploring “the brutality of birch and Marsault willow”. The latter trees are useful for insectivorous migratory birds such as the Chiffchaff, he notes, while the seeds of the birch are eaten by the Bullfinch or Redpoll. The naturalist also notes that cuts were made in Ile-de-France where the two-leaved squirrel lives, a sensitive and rare plant. And he adds that we have gone so far as to cut century-old trees.

On the site, cuts are shown 20 minutes has a devastating effect. “We had the impression that shells had fallen,” says Marie-Noëlle Bernard. In some places there are no trees left. In others, only one or two specimens survived. Concerned operations in the midst of global warming: “With the clear cuts they’re making, the temperature of the tree, and indeed the suburbs and Paris, will increase because the forests cool the capital. A mature tree captures 25 kg of CO2 per year, so all those cuts capture even less CO2! screams Marie-Noëlle Bernard.

Another example of felling condemned by the National Tree Monitoring Group in the Bois de Vincennes.
Another example of felling condemned by the National Tree Monitoring Group in the Bois de Vincennes. – AL

Cuts for the future?

What is the municipality’s response to all this? These cuts are made for the future. “These spaces are maintained to ensure their long-term sustainability. We introduce other species because this is what makes the forest strong in the long run. This requires an intervention,” explains Christophe Najdovsky, deputy mayor of Paris responsible for the restoration of public spaces, green spaces and biodiversity.

He wants to be reassured of the intended 57 hectares of “thinning” or “cleaning”: “It is not because you are interfering with 57 hectares that you are shaving off 57 hectares. Yes, there is indeed a decline in deforestation, but it is temporary. Is it necessary to intervene like today? We are ready to discuss it. But it is necessary to take care of the tree, we cannot completely leave these gaps without human intervention. »

The agents of the Bois de Vincennes Division, whom we happened to meet on the spot and were always on the ground with trees, had the same vision. “Our policy is to have as many varieties as possible. A lot of oak fell during the storm, the birch has grown more here, and we will uproot it and replace it with oak, chestnut, hemlock, lime, cherry… The variety of species is interesting: the cherry tree is as interesting to bees as the lime tree,” he said. the reluctant agent explains. He continues: “In case of pathogen attacks like sooty disease on birch, if we have other species, they will withstand the shock.” “Promoting reforestation promotes sustainability, that’s what we do,” Michel completes next to him.

Two philosophies

Who is wrong and who is right? For the GNSA, which has condemned Bois de Vincennes as a “Central Park”, these cuts are “a bet on the future at risk”. “We do not demand that the forest be controlled by man, it is man who puts himself at the control of the forest,” insists Marie-Noëlle Bernard, Christine Nedelec, France Environnement Île-de-France, essentially quoting botanist Francis Halle: “Let’s learn to do nothing more. »

But Kristof Najdowski trusts his agents: “It’s insulting to blame us for not knowing what an ecosystem is, we have silvicultural engineers who know how to do their job. I trust the technicians and their results,” he said, emphasizing the results of the tree management plan for 2006-2020, which, according to him, “allowed to increase the forest area by 58 hectares.”

The final plan was voted unanimously by elected officials and experts from almost every side, with a single unfavorable vote from Environment France, the deputy claims. 20 minutes at the time the article was published, this vote, which was to be the subject of a report from the Ile-de-France region, had not been approved.

A vote that will not prevent the two unions from demonstrating on Saturday at 14:00 in Montreuil, at the Croix de Chavaux metro station, to Bagnolet, saying “stop the destruction of trees”.

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