In just three years, Elzéard Bouffier will have succeeded in planting a forest of 100,000 trunks. At least that’s what the lonely shepherd tells his interlocutor in The man who planted trees, by Jean Giono. Poetic illustration of sylvan virtues, the writer’s short story nonetheless remains an invitation to afforestation.
“Tree branch of the IPCC”
Tree planting wherever possible is also the ambition of the citizen collective Plantation Rébellion. On January 1, Dijon woke up a little greener, under the leadership of this band of environmentalists with strong humor. Plantation Rébellion, a reference to the international civil disobedience movement Extinction Rébellion, is defined as the “Tree branch of the IPCC” (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Armed with shovels, faces masked, its members planted 300 trees across the city on December 31 before 8 p.m. and the next day in the early morning, curfew requires.
“You just have to make a hole, put the plant in it, mulch, install a bamboo stake and protection. The trees are less than 50 cm high, they must be visible to protect them from mowers. But the technique is rudimentary ”, says Dominique (1), one of the participants. Activists say they have pooled the money planned for their New Year’s Eve meal to acquire forest plants, estimating “Much more useful, to celebrate the new year with the hope that it is better, to afforest than to awaken”. In total, more than 1,800 euros have been spent, supporting the invoice.
Sessile oak, wild cherry, wart birch, wild service tree, wig tree… none of these forest species were chosen at random. Some are doomed to become so-called dominant tall trees and others, so-called dominated medium trees. A few shrubs dot the whole. An essential balance to encourage the installation of insects and birds, and to fight effectively against global warming.
“A tree is a carbon sink. The more we plant, the more CO capture2 will be effective. But there is no point in having monocultures, you need diversity ”, details Ludovic (1), moreover very familiar with debates on forest management. The activist dreams of seeing France turn into a giant ecological corridor, where “A squirrel could cross the country from branch to branch. It is an image, obviously, but also a means of alerting town planners to the lack of space for forests in the city ”.
Plantation Rébellion did not wait for authorization to plant the groves. Its members claim this clandestine mode of action, the afforested areas belonging to the municipality. “We are not doing anything illegal, however, it is a positive and non-violent movement”, Ludovic defends himself. According to him, the grounds are likely to be wooded, whereas they are today grassed and regularly mowed by the municipal agents. The movement also says to place its plantations “Under the protection of citizens and local associations for the protection of nature”.
A thoughtful change of strategy, nine months after their first action. On March 7, 2020, a few days before the first round of the municipal elections, Plantation Rébellion addressed this time to all the candidate lists for mayor of Dijon: “Are you ready to protect this young forest, even if you are not the originator of the plantation? “ Forty plants had just been planted on the shores of Lake Kir. “The idea was to bring the debate on the greening of the city to life. But nobody answered us ”, regrets Ludovic.
Seeds of discord
The answer came in November, when François Rebsamen, re-elected mayor of Dijon for the fourth time on June 28, 2020, judged the trees “Dead”. “I’m curious, I went to see them myself. There were only small twigs left. When you plant trees, you don’t do that in March, but in winter. In a way, they listened to my advice with their New Year’s plantation ”, the aedile said a bit mockingly to Humanity. On the other hand, he firmly disputes the accusations of uprooting the plants. “From a forestry point of view, we would have had to wait until the following spring to ensure that the trees were indeed dead. They lose their leaves but the roots can remain alive and active ”, retorts Ludovic. In addition, he notes, like Dominique, a multiplication of real estate projects, while “The natural spaces are shrinking like the skin of grief”.
There are 8,000 unfulfilled housing applications today. We must densify, it is an assumed choice. Francois Rebsamen PS Mayor of Dijon
For his part, François Rebsamen recalls that the city and the metropolis, of which he is president, act in favor of biodiversity. Six hundred trees this year for Dijon, an urban orchard inaugurated in early December, a “children’s forest” in which the metropolis plants a shrub for each birth… Above all, the former Socialist Minister of Labor (2014-2015) cuts short the reproaches concerning its development policy. “There are 8,000 unfulfilled housing requests today. We must densify, it is an assumed choice. We could nibble on farmland, but that is not desirable. “
Beyond local disagreements, the collective wants above all to set an example. Become a global movement, according to Dominique. “Contacts with other regions have been established. We do not own the idea, on the contrary. The point is for people to learn how to become powerful again. “ And to plant their daily “pine”.