Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Support the Dryads Part II

Not satisfied with the STIB's glib answer as given below, and inspired by the continued campaign (see new Expatica article) I wrote to the STIB again. I thanked them for the speed of their answer, and then asked for the number of trees on Winston Churchill, the number diagnosed with an illness that makes them dangerous, the number already cut down, and the number that were scheduled for the chop. I asked them to give me all three dimensions for the trams. I asked them for the contact details of the people at the Region of Brussels-Capital responsible for the tree-felling.

This is the letter I got back.


Nous vous remercions de nous avoir fait parvenir votre message.

Nous ne pouvons malheureusement vous indiquer le nombre exact d'arbres à abattre sur l'avenue Churchill, ce dossier relevant de la compétence de l'Administration des Equipements et Déplacements de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale. Cette administration dépendant du Ministère de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale (MRBC) est joignable au numéro de téléphone: 02 204 21 11.

Par ailleurs, les dimensions des nouveaux trams sont les suivantes:


largeur: 2,30 m
longueur: 31,85 m
hauteur: 3,40 m


largeur: 2,30 m
longueur: 43,22 m
hauteur: 3,40 m

hauteur de la caténaire (mesure standard pour le réseau): 9,69 m

En restant à votre disposition,

Nathanaël GLINNE (Mr.)
STIB - Relations avec la Clientèle
Tél: +32 2 515 23 91
Besoin d'un renseignement? Surfez sur
ou appelez notre Contact Centre au 0900 10 310(0,45€/min).*


Thanks for your message.

Sadly we cannot give you the figures on the exact number of trees to be felled on Avenue Churchill, because the file is being handled by the Administration of Equipment and Removals of the Brussels-Capital Region, which is a dependent body of the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region and can be reached by telephone on 02 204 21 11.

The dimensions of the new trams are as follows:


width: 2,30 m
length: 31,85 m
height: 3,40 m


width: 2,30 m
length: 43,22 m
height: 3,40 m

height of the catenary (power cable) (standardized across the network): 9,69 m

At your disposal,
Cordially, etc"

Now I think this is a much better answer. It's honest and factual and I have forwarded it to the Marroniers people to do with as they see fit.

In the meantime I had a chinwag with a friend who happens to be a Doctor of Botany. She'd heard about the Churchill kerfuffle and had seen something similar happen near her own house, where a row of trees of which only some were diseased had been slaughtered wholesale. It was her contention that a properly managed avenue of trees has fellings, sometimes culls, and replantings every five years or so, so that there's never an enormous gap and diseased trees are caught early and either treated or felled. Whilst it sounds expensive, in the long run, such a policy of regular expenditure on a smaller scale would undoubtedly be cheaper than having to have a wholesale felling and replanting session. It might also avoid the sort of leaf blight that seems to have hit the baby trees replanted along the Chaussée de Tervuren. Suffice to say that she is also not overly impressed with the Brussels-Capital Region's management of their trees.

Speaking of replanting. Today, I was reading the blog of Eric Sax, one of the councillors of Uccle, the municipality in which Avenue Churchill lies. He's campaigning for the chestnuts too. Towards the end of the comments on that blog, there seemed to be a suggestion that any replanting would not be of chestnuts or other leafy trees, but of conifers, and metasequoias, pictured herewith, at that. Guess what Wiki says about metasequoias. It says "In the late 1980s, it was discovered that many of the second generation trees in cultivation suffered from inbreeding depression (extremely low genetic variability) which could lead to increased susceptibility to disease and reproductive failure. This was because most of the trees were grown from seeds and cuttings derived from as few as three trees that the Arnold Arboretum had used as its source. More widespread seed-collecting expeditions in China in the 1990s sought to resolve this problem and restore genetic diversity to cultivated Metasequoia."

So, out of the frying pan and into the fire, then?

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