Who speaks for the trees?

May 26, 2020 | Bingsland Blogger

A jolly good day to one and all in Bingsland (now known as Richmond)

It’s the Bingsland Blogger here to offer up a titillating tale to provoke a bit of thinking and hopefully some good old constructive conversation.

The recent removal of a rather large Atlantic Blue Cypress tree to make way for repurposed houses on the contentious Guild Street site, made me think “Who Speaks for the Trees”
I mean that tree had to have been there for over 30 years to grow that big, so surely it had more claim to be there than a bunch of temporary housing that was designed to be transitional – in my view the tree should have stayed and the houses designed around it.
Whatever you saw above the ground of that tree and there was a lot of it! it would have been 10 fold below ground, now I am not an engineer or a tree whisperer but on a piece of land that could not be easily remediated for normal houses needed all the help it could get to remain stable. That tree was connected to the all trees around it, it provided an anchor for the neighborhood, rest stop for birds and a sanctuary for bugs and wildlife, not to mention an irreplaceable amenity.  It will take years to reproduce what that one single tree provided to this neighborhood! so why didn’t it have a voice?
Under English common law natural objects don’t have a standing in courts of law and they cannot bring a lawsuit on their own behest mainly because they can’t write or speak but mostly humans can’t get their head around something other than a human having greater rights.
Because this particular tree sat on private property and had no historical value or protection the only action the neighborhood could have taken was to prove the removal of the tree had a negative downstream effect, in this case a very slim and unwinnable argument.  Hypothetically if the neighborhood could prove the removal of the tree was to have a significant downstream effect and win such a case the removal of the tree has no meaning or standing itself but only in relation to the economic well being of the neighborhood who had the standing to bring the suit.  So because the tree couldn’t stand up for itself (excuse the pun) the tree never wins.
This brings me back to who speaks for the tree? Is it time for our forests and rivers to have their own legal rights do you think?
I will leave that thought with you, feel free to share your opinions on this issue below.
Not exactly Dr Seuss words, but I am sure he would not mind


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