Sunday, August 27, 2017

Stump City: The Deforestation of Bogotá

A freshly-cut tree stump on Carrera Septima, in the city center.
Trees cool cities down, reduce pollution, noise and stress, and add beauty to urban areas. They can also provide habitat for bats and birds, which eat pesty insects. But, sadly, anybody walking past the series of stumps along Carrera 7 in downtown could be forgiven for believing that Bogotá's suffering an urban deforestation.

A forlorn tree stump on Las Nieves Plaza.
Urban trees can certainly cause trouble: they fall down, drop branches and leaves, and their roots can break sidewalks and water pipes.

So, when one of those grand old trees becomes a nuisance, the easiest response may be to just cut it down. That solution is not only easiest, but also the most profitable: I understand that the city contractor gets paid for each tree it cuts down (rather than each tree it saves) and also gets to sell the lumber.

With incentives like that, it's a surprise that any tree is still standing.

It wouldn't be so bad if they actually replaced the trees, but the city rarely seems to.

Along Carrera 7, the stumps have it. I didn't see any signs of replanting, either.

In the Parque Nacional, this big tree is leaning over, but otherwise healthy. Will officials cut it or save it?
Manuel can't hold the tree up, but a steel or cement column might. Instead, bet that the tree will be cut down.
Update: The city is doing some sort of work on Carrera Septima, which may be the reason for cutting down all of those trees. Perhaps there's hope yet for the urban environment, if not for the rural one.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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