MORE than 60 women have "married" dozens of threatened trees in a ceremony designed to bring public attention to their plight.

Organisers said they are worried about proposals to build 166 flats on an area of land in Bristol known as Baltic Wharf.

If approved, the development would likely spell the end for 74 mature trees on the land, including examples of ash, aspen, cherry plum, common alder, elder, grey poplar, hawthorn, hornbeam, Italian alder, London Plane and more.

The ‘brides’ who took part wore wedding dresses from different cultures while symbolically marrying each of the 74 trees in danger of being axed in a ceremony carried out by a celebrant.

Event organisers said they were inspired by the Chipko women in India in the 1970s, who threw their arms around trees in the Himalayas to protect forests from being destroyed by logging.

One of the organisers and a ‘bride’ Suzan Hackett, from Bristol, said: "The idea began with Siobhan Kierans who teamed up with the M32 Maples group to create what we describe as a ‘pop-up human arts installation’.

Forestry Journal:

“The day was a wonderful and very beautiful success. Although light-hearted, the message from this action is serious. Planners absolutely must start to work with an awareness of climate change and in turn change their approach so that green spaces are preserved, especially mature trees.

READ MORE: Forestry England takes part in 25-year Norway spruce provenance planting trial

“The health impacts of global warming and pollution are alarming. Nature is our one defence and protection against this, especially mature trees in inner-city areas where such problems are at their very worst.  

“The trees at Baltic Wharf perform a vital job providing oxygen to the inner city. In addition they offer a wildlife habitat, improve and aid wellbeing, and give important flood as well as air pollution defences. At this critical time, it cannot be enough for developers to say they can be replaced. It would take years for small saplings to grow and do the job these mature trees are already doing.

“Besides, even so-called 'replacement' trees are put into suburbs, when it is the inner-city areas that are suffering the most.” 

Forestry Journal:

The planning application, from Goram Homes and developers Hill, which has not yet been approved, is for 166 homes, including about 66 social and affordable housing units.

Owners of the Baltic Wharf Caravan Site, where the 74 trees are located, have been served notice by the city council to leave.

The application acknowledges some of the trees will need to be removed, but the Save Baltic Wharf Trees group and the Bristol Tree Forum have criticised what they said was a lack of transparency around the number of trees due to be felled and when it may happen.

Suzan Hackett added: “It's important to point out that affordable housing is invariably not affordable and developers have no obligation to create such housing anyway. It is only advisory and developers frequently pull out of such commitment.

“We are asking for the Baltic Wharf development to be given a two-year amnesty so that it might be included in the western harbourside consultation plans, as Baltic Wharf itself does in fact sit within this area.”

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