The terrain is steep, on the Tête de Chien, in Cap-d’Ail. From the rising small steep road, the view extends out to sea. In the foreground, on both the mountain side and the horizon side, trees border the path. Certain trees barely rise out of the ground, while others are already grown.
For the eighth year, this piece of land is the center of an operation involving the mayor of Monaco, the mayor of Cap-d’Ail and the National Forest Service. The terrain is being reforested after the fires that ravaged the mountain that overlooks the Principality. For each birth in the mountainous territory, a tree is planted the next year. Nearly 8,000 have already been planted, 974 this year alone from births in 2014. The families of Monaco’s municipal employees, who had a baby in 2014, planted “their” tree during a symbolic ceremony.
“It’s in the interest of the reforestation,” he explains. It is an attempt to recreate the ecosystem that existed before the fires. He also insists on the unique link created between a tree and a child.
“It’s huge, what that brings,” he goes on. “For me, as someone who works in the Forest Service and is responsible for this program, this allows me to form relationships with other people. This is extremely important. People take ownership of a public place. It becomes their garden.”
In addition, this association also raises awareness of the fight against forest fires and of the importance of protecting nature. Especially since the Tête de Chien holds so much value for the community. “This site is truly an important part of the Monaco countryside,” explains Georges Marsan, mayor of the city, “wherever you are in Monaco, you see this place.”
Many participants plan to return. Like Charlotte, mother of Jules, almost 2 years old, from Menton. “The setting is beautiful,” she says, “it’s very pleasant. And the trees add something more, memories.” Even if her son is more interested in a helicopter flying above the greenery.
All around, trees continue to fill the holes dug into the ground. The 974 trees must be planted here before the end of 2015. Then, it will be those other newborns’ turn to take root here.
What do you think of the symbolism involved in this operation? How will it make citizens feel more connected to the surrounding environment? Does you city or local nonprofit offer a similar initiative? Does it focus only on native species? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.