Paris is aiming to redevelop the area around the Eiffel Tower in time for the 2024 Olympics, but the city’s residents are starting to rebel against a plan that would see 22 trees uprooted.
The town hall of Paris wants to build tourist facilities and offices at the foot of the world-famous monument.
Projections by architects show semi-submerged buildings covered in greenery. But activists have launched a petition urging the mayor’s office to scrap the plan, expressing particular concern over the fate of some very old trees.
“We refuse the felling and endangering of dozens of healthy trees, in particular the bicentenary and centenary trees, which are really the green lungs of the city”, indicates the petition, launched by four environmental associations.
Around 35,000 signatures have been collected so far. Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire sought to appease opponents of the project. “No hundred-year-old tree will be felled,” he said.
His assistants told AFP they were working to reduce the number of trees to be felled for the project, which has already fallen from 42 to 22.
They also pointed out that the redevelopment was part of a plan that involved planting dozens of trees and creating green space in the congested center of the French capital.
But activists remain skeptical.
“They create vegetation, but they destroy a lot of it at the same time,” said Philippe Khayat of the association SOS Paris, one of the supporters of the petition.
The tower is one of the most famous buildings in the world and welcomes some seven million visitors a year.