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Public cuts extended to...

Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 15:40 UK time, Thursday, 24 May 2012


A recently cut tree in North London

A recently cut tree in North London

I’m not sure whether this is happening in other parts of Britain, but in North London a great number of trees  have been cut down to their trunks. From the end of May, having been maimed and disfigured, they are now struggling to produce new branches and leaves.

I have asked several of my neighbours what can be behind this latest move by our local authority. Could this all be part of a zealous new extension of public spending cuts into a completely new area?

Some people have suggested that this is due to preparations for the London 2012 Olympics. Others suspect health and safety issues. The idea being that if the branches are cut, they will not fall from the trees and kill any passers-by on the street below.

It’s difficult to believe in this logic. It’s like cutting off someone’s hands because they might punch you in a scuffle. It seems an almost prehistoric way of justice. There was a gorgeous pathway in Trent Park, North London, where the crowns of the trees intertwine above your head for a half of a mile. Now the ghostly trunks nakedly stand as organic surrealistic sculptures.

Many years ago we lived next to a public orchard. One day I noticed that my daughter (who was 6 years old at the time) was frantically cutting patches of paper with scissors instead of doing her homework. I decided to check on what she was up to. She was preparing hundreds of notes with one sentence on them: ‘People, don’t break the branches’. The notes were pinned on the tress in the orchard. This was her first conscious political activity.

Now, I somehow feel the same. Nearly two years ago, the trees in the most beautiful park in the centre of Tashkent (some being 150 years old) were cut down.

I received many emails and letters of support from my British friends. I now think that the tree-cutting plague has finally reached London.

I wouldn’t be a journalist if I didn’t call one of the leading tree pruning services in London. I wanted to find out more about the thinking behind the idea of trimming trees to their trunks. The answer was quite technical: maintenance of trees. I’m not an ignoramus who hates science and progress. The engineering word ‘maintenance’, applied to what I consider live organisms, made me understand their way of thinking.

The lady I spoke to on the phone began a long explanation about what it means to maintain healthy trees, so they look nice and live longer.  I asked about the health and safety considerations. She said that it played a big part in the decision to prune the trees, so they did not fall on passers-by.

This lady was only the public voice of this initiative. There must be a group of people who sit in council offices sanctioning the disfigurement and maiming of trees in London. This demonstrates their zeal to extend the cuts in public services to new areas. Less branches – less problems!

This provided me with a metaphor which does not just explain the essence of the zeal to cut. More free ranging branches and leaves in the crown of a tree give more oxygen. By cutting them down to the single trunk, you are cutting your oxygen...

I open the door, it turns into a tree,

screeching in the wind,

I shelter from wind and it turns into a tree,

branches crawling as if through a hole,

I plug the hole with the palm of my hand, it turns into a tree, numbing at once

Numbing, I call out to a friend, and my friend turns into a tree,

making noise with his crown,

It seems my soul is tearing apart, it too turns into a tree,

dropping its leaves,

I cry and I breathlessly wait, and my tears turn to a tree,

of fingers grown to the face.

Hardly alive, I turn towards you, and you will too turn into a tree

And through your branches the sunset

Will look not with an eye of a stranger

As the last in the tribe of trees

At a forlorn and left behind garden.


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