I wanted to share this French Declaration of Tree Rights with you as I think it is quite thought provoking and it asks us to question our relationship not just with trees but ultimately with the natural world...
France proclaims trees should have rights in a Declaration of Tree Rights.
“A tree is a living organism whose average lifespan is far longer than that of a human being. It should be respected throughout its life and have the right to develop and to reproduce freely, from its birth to its natural death, whether it be a town tree or a country tree. A tree should be considered as a subject of law, including when laws regarding human property are involved.”
The “Declaration of tree rights” was adopted in a meeting room of the French National Assembly in Paris in April 2019 The symposium was organized under the title “Remarkable Trees” by a member of the National Assembly and former minister Delphine Batho, president of the French political environmentalist party Génération écologie.
Batho personally presided at the tree symposium together with the president of a society for the protection of trees, “A.r.b.r.e.s”. She stated “Our objective is to obtain a law that will recognize trees as sentient beings.”
In the symposium participants wanted better management of historic trees asking for protection for these trees from being felled for utilitarian or commercial motives.
To date, hundreds of trees in France have received a “remarkable tree” label since 2000 by the association. The designation assesses their rarity, age, size and beauty, and all the trees still standing.
Remarkable trees include a Robinia tree across the Seine from Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, planted in 1601. According to the Histoires de France racontées par les arbres*, this is the "oldest tree in Paris".
The locust tree in the square Viviani, just across from Notre-Dame, was planted in 1601.
An oak tree in Brittany about 1,600 years old and an olive tree in Corsica that is estimated to be somewhere between 2000 years to 4000 years. This tree still produces olives.
There is a growing philosophical movement to put the animal and vegetable realms on equal footing with humanity. It promotes an indigenous vision of nature that has a far more sympathetic approach to the world around us. Its’ central tenet is respect for the planet.
The Declaration of Tree Rights defines a tree as a “living being that is sensitive to changes in its environment, and that should be respected as such without being reduced to the status of a mere object.”
Trees, the declaration states “have a right to the airspace and underground space it needs to reach its full growth and its adult size.” “In these conditions, trees have a right to their physical integrity, be it in the air (branches, trunk, foliage) or underground (root network). Damage to these organs weaken them considerably, as do the use of pesticides and other toxic substances,” the declaration continues, before demanding for every tree “the right to develop and to reproduce freely, from its birth to its natural death.”
The declaration states that “some trees” are “planted and used” for the needs of man and cannot be treated according to “the criteria as stated above” – but it adds that even for these trees, their “natural life-cycle” should be respected.
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