Letter to the foreign authorities – Why is it necessary to cut down the trees?

In Belgrade, the capital city of the Republic of Serbia, we have recently been facing a potential destruction of an entire eco system, thereby endangering the lives of the people who live here and all in name of so called modernization. The row of plane trees on one of the longest streets of Belgrade, Bulevar kralja Aleksandra, by a decision of the city government, should be cut down in the next 35 days, so that the entire street can be reconstructed. The trees which are a number of decades old, have been designated to be old, sick and dangerous to the citizens by the city government, even though they are the ones which make life bearable in one of the busiest city streets. Not wishing to debate the need for a reconstruction of Bulevar kralja Aleksandra, the citizens tried to discuss issues with the city government and people in charge relating to the reconstruction and to find out whether it is necessary to completely eliminate the row of trees and whether any alternative solutions exist. The questions which the citizens raised and are still waiting for answers from any of the participants of the planned works are: 

Why cut down the entire row of trees if only individual trees are old and damaged?

How is it possible that no healing solutions were suggested for any tree? When did any tree on this street endanger the safety and property of citizens?

Why didn’t the city Environmental Protection Secretary sign the document which authorizes the trees to be cut down?

Why is it necessary to cut down the trees before experts and the public receive clear answers to the previous questions and before new seedlings have been chosen and prepared?

Despite the citizens’ constant requests for information, those in charge in the city of Belgrade keep insisting that the trees must be immediately cut down and removed. We wish to stress that a petition for the salvation of the plane trees has been signed in a short period of time by over 1500 citizens, and support was given by some of the most renowned members of society, a number of academicians, artists, intellectuals, as well as experts, architects and forest engineers, whose profession is city planning, reconstruction and planting. Due to the growing complaints of the public, it was recently announced that instead of plane trees other trees will be planted which raises the costs of the street’s reconstruction by 40% (which, according to media reports amounts to approximately EUR 6.8 million). We are contacting you in order to ask you to influence the government of the city of Belgrade using your authority in order to receive the answers to the raised questions and to preserve one of the most beautiful row of trees in Belgrade.

Architecture Academy of Serbia