Thessaloniki trees get the chop

Tree experts and residents of Thessaloniki have written to the municipality to express concern that contractors hired by the local authority to prune 15,000 trees in the heavily built-up northern city are seriously damaging its greenery. A team of professors at Aristotle University’s department of forestry and natural environment are leading a campaign to raise awareness about the damage that is being done to trees in Thessaloniki. Pavlos Efthymiou, one of the academics leading the campaign labeled the actions being carried out by the teams hired by the municipality as «catastrophic intervention that threaten to turn the city into a wasteland.» He points out that tree pruning should take place in January or by the middle of February at the latest. The experts are also concerned that the contractors are pruning too heavily. Professor Ioannis Bamboutis claims that the trees are often pruned because they interfere with business interests, such as a shop window. Thessaloniki is already one of Europe’s least green and most polluted cities and the experts fear that its trees are being killed off by unwise pruning techniques. Council member Andreas Kourakis said the issue has been raised at municipal meetings as some officials feel that the job has been assigned to the wrong people, since many of the contractors are seeking to sell the wood they chop. Deputy Mayor Nikos Papagiannopoulos believes the professors’ concerns are just part of an ongoing scientific debate. He said the pruning takes place not only to protect the trees but to ensure that they do not interfere with other aspects of city life, such as power cables and road signs.

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