Tue, May 20, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Activists, workers clash during relocation of trees

DETERMINED:Activists protesting the removal of trees along a road leading to Taipei’s Big Dome project said they would continue to guard trees along Chunghsiao East Road

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Conflicts occurred at the construction site of the Big Dome project in Taipei yesterday, when workers with excavators met with environmental activists who climbed up or surrounded 13 trees to stop their relocation.

The conflicts occurred at about 9:30am when workers, accompanied by police officers, arrived on Chunghsiao E Road to remove 13 Formosan sweetgum trees, but were met by dozens of activists protesting the relocation of the trees.

Farglory Land Development Co’s (遠雄建設) Big Dome project, at the intersection of Chunghsiao E Road and Guangfu S Road — in part of the preserved historical site of the Sungshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠) — had gained approval from the local government to remove 87 trees.

However, the Taiwan Green Power Union, a coalition of groups and individual activists dedicated to tree protection, called for an emergency movement to save the trees after they discovered that dozens of them were being removed late last month.

The volunteers have been taking turns to guard the trees against removal operations by Farglory for the past weeks.

Upon hearing that workers would try to remove the remaining trees again, the activists yesterday surrounded or climbed up the trees or blocked the workers, saying that they would protect the trees with their bodies.

The activists said that because the trees and road belong to the public, it is unreasonable for the city government to allow the company to use its construction budget for the road to remove the trees, and that the “brutal and inappropriate removal” of 55 trees last month has already seriously affected the environment.

The police erected a warning sign, saying that the protesters’ behavior was against the law, but they refused to leave.

A spokesperson from Farglory said the tree removal operation is legal, and according to the city government’s tree protection committee on May 13, the 13 trees were not considered “old trees” and are allowed to be moved to other places during the construction period.

The situation remained deadlocked throughout the morning, as workers were unable to begin their removal operation.

Several disputes occurred between the activists and representatives of Farglory.

The machinery and police officers left the site at noon, but the activists said they would continue to guard the trees.

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