Mayor who wants to destroy hundreds of trees: “They are not local”

During a scorching summer across Europe, a mayor decided to cut down hundreds of trees on the island of La Gomera, part of the Canary archipelago in Spain, due to landscaping and urban management. According to Angelica Padilla, who was re-elected in May, this is a beautification operation aimed at removing “non-native” trees. Dozens of so-called flame trees (Brachychiton acerifolius), a plant from Australia that were transported to the Canary Islands more than a century ago, have been snagged at the target. To protect some of their most beloved trees, a lobby group is opposed to the decision. Opponents describe the plan as “atrocious” and will demonstrate against the municipality’s decision on Saturday (August 12th). Petitions to stop the cutting of flame trees garnered more than 1,200 signatures.

hard slaughter

These trees have provided ample shade on the streets of San Sebastian for decades. Thanks to its constantly mild climate, it is also a center of attraction for tourists who occupy the Canary Islands every season. Re-elected with Gomera Socialist Group, Padilla’s “beautification plan” requires replacing mostly mature non-native trees with native species that he and his team have found invasive, including ficus varieties. A decision that still sounds paradoxical at a time when trees are vital to tackling climate change. This year, La Gomera recorded its hottest spring in decades. As early as June 2022, local authorities had declared a water emergency. Repeated heatwaves hit the Canary Islands this summer. Padilla’s office did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.


In a video broadcast on Canary television, also on Facebook, the mayor explained that all flame trees are “too aggressive” and will therefore be cut down to improve pedestrian access and prevent their roots from damaging water pipes. The pressure group, which is struggling to protect the trees, finds this operation “unreasonable”. The group’s spokesman, Javier Sanchez, said the massacre deprived the city of necessary shade and oxygen supplies. He also noted that domestic and imported trees “have coexisted for many years” on the island. “Fire trees have been planted in the Canary Islands for over a century and are loved in the summer for providing ample shade and beautiful flowers,” he told Reuters.

strong roots

Scientific expert Laura Concepcion, a biologist at the World Biosphere Reserve on the nearby island of La Palma, has positioned herself along the same lines. The biologist said that flame trees cannot be considered an aggressive species. “It’s not as invasive as some other ornamentals,” She said, adding that strong root management is essential to prevent them from causing problems in urban environments. Ventura del Carmen Rodriguez, spokesman for the opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) on the island, described the murder as “brutal” and “insanity”. “We’re all fighting climate change and trying to create a green San Sebastian. I don’t understand that,” he told Reuters.

Rodriguez admitted that the roots of the flame trees in San Sebastian interfered with the pipes and bent the stones in places. However, he underlined that “The solution is not to cut down the tree,” and said, “We need to cut the roots, improve the flooring and grow the trees while protecting the pipes.”

Source: Today IT