Associations for the defense of heritage and the environment protested against the felling of trees that this Monday began to be carried out within the framework of the works of the General Plan of Sanitation of Lisbon.
Speaking to Lusa, from the places where protest banners were placed, in the areas of Alfama and Santa Apolónia, the president of the Association for the Defense of the Heritage of São Vicente (ADPEV), Catherine Morisseau, said that the 13 associations that signed an appeal, published last week, demanding the suspension of tree felling, within the framework of the works of the Lisbon General Drainage Plan (PGDL), will now create a request for public consultation on the urban project of the entire area.
The trees that began to be felled this Monday are located next to the Military Museum, in Praça de Santa Apolónia, and, according to the Lisbon municipality, they are in the path of the drainage tunnel.
According to a response sent in January by the Municipal Department of Environment, Green Structure, Climate and Energy to the associations, 104 trees will be affected for the works of the General Drainage Plan, “68 for slaughterhouse and 36 for transplantation”.
According to the same answer, to which Lusa had access, “140 trees will be planted to compensate” for the planned felling.
Subsequently, on February 6, the Lisbon City Council, through Cristina Rolo, from the PGDL support team, responded —in an email sent to Lusa— to the questions raised by the associations, explaining that the General Drainage Plan and the construction of the tunnels “to aim at protect the city from extreme events They tend to be more frequent as a result of climate change.”
Catherine Morisseau reacts by saying that the municipality could “divert the tunnel a bit to save the trees” and stresses that “a large tree is not compensated, it is irreplaceable”, lamenting that the mayors “have no idea” about this, carrying out a policy that It has cut down, “in recent years, almost all the large trees” in the capital.
“We need big trees to drain the water. We must not forget that it takes a big tree to supply oxygen to two people and, in Lisbon, the number of trees is insufficient for the number of inhabitants”, underline the associations in the appeal sent to the mayors of Lisbon.
The signatory associations of the appeal and protest this Monday — ADPEV, the Platform in Defense of Trees, APPA – Alfama Heritage and Population Association, the Lx Citizenship Forum, the Movement to Save Jardim da Parada, the Friends of the Covered das Necessidades, Associação SOS Quinta dos Ingleses – Group, Alvorada Da Floresta, SOS Costa da Guia, SOS Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais, Grupo Ecológico de Cascais, Climáximo and Gaia – call for “a serious urban study to avoid undue killings”.
The Alfama area was not affected by the major December floods in Lisbon “thanks to the big trees”, recalls Catherine Morisseau.
Besides Saint Apollonia It is the “most polluted area of Lisbon, because of the cruise ships” and, therefore, needs “special care”holds.
According to data provided by the Municipal Directorate for the Environment, Green Structures, Climate and Energy, in response to the associations, “the estimated number of trees in Lisbon is around 424,000”, which would give “about 0.78 trees per inhabitant, lot much higher than the value considered as a minimum in the complaints (0.25 trees per inhabitant)”.
Even if the population that moves is also considered, the ratio would be “0.46 trees per inhabitant,” he adds.
Before the start, this Monday, of the removal of trees, the associations decided to go ahead with the public petition “Save Santa Apolónia”, which aims to draw attention to the entire project — “without consulting the people” — to reclassify area.
“The project does not conform to what the people want”, underlines Catherine Morisseau, referring to the Lisbon Citizen Council, which was demanding more green spaces for the area.
For the activist, the “problem of lack of environmental awareness” is general, not only in Lisbon.
“Mayors think that trees don’t count for anything and they do projects without ever looking at trees,” he denounces.