Environmental activists defending more than 40 trees surrounding the Eiffel Tower in Paris celebrate a tree-umphant win after weeks of protest.
The city of Paris planned to clear the area around the iconic tower on the Champ-de-Mars to make the tower more accessible and the area around it greener in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The €72m redevelopment plan was a major part of mayor Anne Hidalgo’s re-election campaign in 2020 and was formulated by American architect Kathryn Gustafson. The overall concept of the garden design has many positives. These include banning vehicles except public transport from the nearby Pont d’Iéna, creating paths and cycle routes, and building a series of parks. However, when the public found out that this plan meant cutting down 42 well-established trees and threatening the root system of a plane tree near the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the negative response was overwhelming.
The protestors’ tactics (which includes a hunger strike) originally convinced the Paris officials to consider what happens to each tree on a “case-by-case” basis. However, as the protests went on, the officials were persuaded to abandon their tree-chopping ideas altogether. One protestor, Thomas Brail, the founder of the National Group for the Surveillance of Trees (GNSA), attached himself to the 208-year-old plane, one of the many that were planted all over France in 1814.
Now Emmanuel Grégoire, Paris’s deputy mayor in charge of urban planning and architecture, has announced that the entire plan will be completely revised to avoid damaging or impacting any of the trees.