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Felling of Javastraat trees started

Alex van Veen

28 January 2008 - The Zeeburg administration has ordered the felling of 34 trees in the Javastraat on Monday morning. Four opponents have entrenched themselves between the branches to prevent the cutting of so many trees.

From the street, you hardly notice them. At a height of some ten metres, the eco activists are sitting somewhat uncomfortably on a tree. Early in the morning they climbed up using ropes, to keep their site occupied all day. They pass the time reading papers and using their cell phones. Warm clothing has to protect them against the cold. Only for sanitary stops their awkward positions are left temporarily, giving them a chance to relax their muscles.

Passers-by hardly pay attention to what is going on above their heads, if they notice at all. Even though trees being occupied is quite unique for Amsterdam. The last time this happened was in the woods near Ruigoord, ten years ago already. But tree-climbing activists in the inner city, that is quite unusual. Only a few passers-by stick up their thumb in a show of sympathy for these enthusiastic young people. A neighbourhood resident has hung black ribbons of mourning around the trunks of these threatened elms.

This action only brings about a postponement of the felling of the elms as well as some publicity, which is nice. But in the end, these sixty-year-old trees will end up as pieces of wood on the lorry that left the Javastraat at four in the afternoon. At sunset, some sixteen large elms had been cut; the rest will follow during the next days. The activists are in the four largest elms at the end of the Javastraat, near the railway track.

Initially, the district planned to start cutting the trees on 23 January. The administration decided to wait for the decision of the Council of State (RvS). Opponents had asked the RvS not to allow the district to cut the trees. Like the Amsterdam court a week before, the RvS in its ruling of 25 January decided in favour of the district.

The Indische buurt desperately needs a ‘boost’, policy makers at the Zeeburg district find. The current ‘smudgy character’ of the Javastraat, the foremost shopping street in the neighbourhood, has to change into a ‘Mediterranean shopping promenade’. The renewal plans date back to the 1990s, but because of a substantial financial contribution from the European Commission (two-thirds of the budget) they have been sped up.

At about 4.30, the four eco activists climbed down and were met by the activists who had kept a close watch on them during the entire day and had provided them with drinks and food. Tuesday morning, they will climb up again. In all probability it will then become exciting, because the felling activity is rapidly approaching them. They can use any kind of moral support. Pay them a visit in the Indische buurt.

Originally published at Ravage Digitaal


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