Fruit trees grow from mighty oaks

Mairie takes action to compensate for cut down trees

Regrets over the felling of a row of oak trees will mean fruit trees springing up in a Normandy village as the mairie is giving away vouchers to spend on new trees to make up for the loss.

Didier Goret, the green party mayor of Guerquesalles in Orne, came up with the idea after the mairie received a windfall of €1,900 from selling the wood. The trees lined a forest road and no one knew the land was the mairie’s.

Mr Goret said that losing the trees reduced carbon dioxide absorption and he thought of giving €40 vouchers to make up for this.

His idea for the ‘citizen plantation’ helps both the environment and the local economy as the vouchers are valid for bee-friendly fruit trees and must be spent in a local nursery.

Mr Goret said the gardening maxim “à la Sainte-Catherine tout bois prend racine” showed it was best to plant trees after the saint’s day at the end of November until March and the 135 residents are now being given the vouchers to buy trees such as apple, pear, plum or cherry.

Councillor and farmer Tim Green, 65, who moved to France from Cheshire 34 years ago, said the plan had been adopted unanimously. “I’ve actually bought a few more trees than were planned. I used my voucher to buy an apple tree.

“One neighbour has bought a plum tree and a good few people have taken up the offer”.

The oak trees had been in an inconvenient location, he added, and had been nearing the end of their useful lives.

“This is one way of making sure new trees get replanted. The big advantage for us is that it was an unexpected bounty – and €1,900 is not insignificant for a commune the size of ours. It seemed too good a chance a miss.”