People, Environment

Tehran Municipality Slammed for Not Saving Iconic Trees

Tehran Municipality Slammed for Not Saving Iconic TreesTehran Municipality Slammed for Not Saving Iconic Trees

Tehran Municipality has come under heavy criticism for cutting down decades-old trees that line either side of the metropolis’ Valiasr Street.

Last week, the municipality knocked down seven trees—12, according to some reports—in the vicinity of Tehran’s City Theater, because they were dead, according to Amirhossein Asari, deputy for urban services and environment at TM.

“The trees had been drying slowly for the past seven years and were rotting. They posed a risk to pedestrians and drivers, so an expert commission voted in favor of cutting them down and we obliged,” he told the municipality-run Persian-language daily Hamshahri, adding that the municipality will plant 43 saplings to replace the felled trees.

“We had received a lot of calls from concerned citizens to cut the trees down,” he said.

Nevertheless, the shopkeepers on Valiasr say the trees were fine and healthy up until three years ago when the municipality started doing substructure work in the gutters, where the trees were located, for the street drainage system.

“Out of nowhere they started pouring cement around the trees as they were laying the foundation. It was clear from the start the trees were doomed,” a shopkeeper identified only as Nasseri, who has been selling men’s wear on Valiasr Street for 15 years, told Iran Student Correspondents Association.

“Young and old trees were both affected. It is a mystery why they hired people with zero knowledge of trees to lay the foundation.”

Another shopkeeper identified as Molaei told the news agency that he had “called the municipality via their 137 hotline several times”, imploring them to remove the cement that “was suffocating the trees, but nothing happened”.

At 19.3 kilometers long, Valiasr Street—which runs north to south—is said to be the Middle East’s longest street. It is one of Tehran’s main thoroughfares and commercial hubs, which is lined with 90-year-old plane trees planted in wide gutters.