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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Ethics of Tree Cutting

Today I cut down a tree. I did not quite cut it all down, it was a multi-trunk specimen and I only cut three of the four stems. I will soon cut the remaining stem and be done with it. Why did I do this? I pursued this course of action because I was told that the tree had to be removed before excavation of the brewery foundation could proceed. The tree is not actually on the site of the foundation, but is close enough that the excavator is concerned that enough of its roots will be destroyed to cause it to fall.

Whether one considers it strange or not, I admit to some ambivalent feelings while cutting down this tree. I did not want to do it but also recognized the necessity of doing so if the brewery was to proceed. Therein lay the conundrum.

The upshot is this: What right do I have to cut down a tree that has been growing for so many years in one spot, just because I want to use that spot for something else. What are the ethical considerations here?

We have a living tree, a beautiful specimen, that will take 40 to 50 years to replace, and I cut it down. I cut it down for my own convenience. Is this right?

I feel unable to answer these questions. The best that I can offer is that each time I cut down a tree I will make the best use I can of its wood. I will not waste what I have taken. That may be enough. I am not sure.

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