I’ve been disturbed for several years about the needless tree cutting that has been going on throughout Yerevan. Much of the time it’s being done by business owners.
Tree cutting in and around Yerevan in the forms of pollarding and pruning have been going on for the last two decades. The Marash forest that blanketed the slope to the west of central Yerevan was completely felled in the 1990s when desperate people needed to keep their families warm during a time when there was barely any electricity or other sources of fuel to be had.
But now, there’s really no excuse for cutting trees. Yet wherever you turn in this city, you’ll notice trees with branches lopped off them. Most of the time new shoots burst out from the trunk and in a few years they thicken. But some tree species that are sensitive to such drastic pruning measures simply dry out.
Municipal department heads have claimed on television and in print that annual pollarding is essential so that trees will not suffer from disease. Yet upon close inspection any passer by will notice that the branches are perfectly healthy. You don’t need to be an arbor specialist to realize that a tree shows no signs of decay when the pulp is white, wet and clean. This mentality is backwards anyway–you don’t need to and shouldn’t pollard as a method of disease control. Pollarding is only done in extreme cases and for only certain kinds of trees.
Yerevan’s a dusty town, and trees are essential for helping to filter out the filth. They also beautify the city obviously, and the more the better. But trees are coming down left and right. There’s been some tree replanting going on, for instance in Republic Square, but there the unique (I don’t know the species), healthy trees were removed to be replaced by common acacia trees. A couple of the original trees remain in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, though.
Protests by environmental groups are falling on deaf ears, and even news articles aren’t having much of an impact in stopping the madness. The Northern Boulevard is completely devoid of trees, yet there are some decorative shrubs that could very well dry out in inclement weather (I believe some of them have already). Perhaps the underground garages there would interfere with the proper growth of tree root structures, which is the reason why they haven’t been planted. Or else, no one thought of it.
Regardless, tree cutting for the sake of building new restaurants and cafes has to stop. When a member of parliament or someone close to government with lots of cash wants to build something, they chose their space and get to work, damn the trees and nature. It’s not clear what is being done with the branches, but something tells me it’s sold somewhere as firewood.
There are too many construction projects being undergone in green spaces, and once opened they are far from being full of customers in the summer months. The question is: when are citizens going to put pressure on City Hall to halt the cutting?