The symbolic protest was meant to show that "trees are our partners for life" and women married 90 trees in the region where the project was proposed to be built.
Deforestation is the main contributor to climate change and it is up to us to protect what little forest cover remains on Earth. The rate of deforestation between 2015 and 2020 was estimated at 10 million hectares per year. Now more than ever there is a need to ensure that more trees are not cut down and afforestation projects are implemented. But the dire consequences of climate change are ignored as more and more trees are being cut for infrastructural projects. People have been protesting the indiscriminate felling of trees and have been forced to get more creative each time.
The Bristol City Council proposed to build 166 apartments through the council-owned Goram Homes threatening to cut down the trees in the area. Locals sprung to action led by women who decided to save these trees in a grand gesture. So, at least 60 women "married" 90 mature trees under threat in a ceremony with the aim of highlighting how the building plans could result in the removal of the trees from the site. The symbolic protest was meant to show that "trees are our partners for life," protest organizer, Siobhan Kierans, told the BBC. Women came to the event in wedding dresses from various cultures.
"To get married to a tree is an absolute privilege. It's not just a sentimental gesture, it is highly significant and symbolic, campaigner and "bride" Suzan Hackett stated. "Trees are pure examples of unconditional love, which fits in so beautifully with the whole idea of marriage. Marriage is for life, breathing is for life. Bristol needs mature trees more than it does luxury private housing." The women married 74 trees in the region where the proposed building will be built. Owners of the Baltic Wharf Caravan Site, where the trees are located, have been served notice by the city council to leave.
More than 70 women marry dozens of trees to oppose Bristol building plans https://t.co/vNzY0quDso pic.twitter.com/tVtddqOnm8— Bristol Biz (@BristolBizz) September 7, 2021
The novel protest was inspired by the Indian Chipko movement in the 1970s which was one of the first eco-feminist movement, non-violent, protest to save the trees in the foothills of the Himalayas in the then Garhwal region that were being indiscriminately chopped off in the name of development, as per The News Minute. The women-led movement saw villagers in the area peacefully "hugging" the trees to save them from being cut down. The peaceful protest launched by Sunderlal Bahuguna and led by Gaura Devi has inspired innumerable peaceful protests to protect forest land across the world.
Professor John Tarlton, a professor of regenerative medicine at Bristol Veterinary School, who wrote the trees' "vows" and also acted as the best man at the event, said: "Once the planning application has been approved, it is too late. Nobody is going to reverse that decision. That's it, the trees will go and it is very little we can do about it. We cannot afford to lose these 74 trees. It is an enormous number of mature trees and is in a part of Bristol that needs them most."
The infrastructure project that has been planned between the docks and Cumberland Road is from Goram Homes and Essex-based developers Hill, as per Bristol Live. The Baltic Wharf Homes website even promises “a fantastic opportunity (on) an underutilized and prime harbourside location.” The notice that was sent to the owners acknowledges that some of the trees will need to be removed as part of the project. But the Save Baltic Wharf Trees group and the Bristol Tree Forum have criticized that the housing company has not revealed the number of trees they are planning to cut down.
Speaking with us, SuzYaki Hacati, Tree Brides organizer and campaigner said, "Bristol desperately needs social housing. BCC says Baltic Wharf is a brownfield site. It is clearly not the case. Six-story luxury housing here will create enormous flood problems here and devastate Bristol's unique heritage. BCC needs to utilize true brownfield sites where stores like Debenhams have closed down." Hacati also clarified that the group has been constantly accused of being against social housing which they are not. The concerns they are raising here are environmental and the houses being built are luxury.
The project is estimated at £55 million or $75.71 million plans on constructing 166 homes, including about 66 social and affordable housing units. This will include one, two, and three-bedroom flats, exclusive waterfront penthouses, as well as ground-floor commercial space. The plan has not yet been approved and the Bristol City Council said due to the planning application currently being considered it would not comment on the matter.
Cover Image Source: Facebook/SuzYaki Hacati - Tree Brides organizer and campaigner