Unusual rescue operation Citizens form bucket brigade to save 200-year-old tree

Plittersdorf · In an unusual initiative, citizens banded together to water a 200-year-old tree in Park Carstanjen, using water from the Rhine. Their aim is to protect the old trees in the park from drying out and dying.

 Helpers pass buckets of water from the Rhine in a community initiative to save a tree.

Helpers pass buckets of water from the Rhine in a community initiative to save a tree.

Foto: Stefan Knopp

For a mighty tree like the 200-year-old European hornbeam in the middle of Carstanjen Park, 1,000 liters is just a drop in the bucket. But this is the amount of water recently carried to the tree by dedicated citizens, who formed a long chain to pass buckets of water from the Rhine. Around 70 adults were involved in the initiative. The children who helped carried the empty buckets back to the Rhine. It was a great team effort, incorporating as much social distancing as possible, along with mask protection, and a demonstration of concern for the condition of the trees in the area.

Andreas Theves, self-proclaimed "tree-keeper" and member of the "Bonn in Wandel" association, got the ball rolling by posting the idea on nebenan.de, but also directly addressing people in the park. He lives nearby and regularly visits Carstanjen Park. "I look at the trees to see how they are doing." More and more often he noticed that the trees were not doing well, 14 were cut down recently. "I am really starting to feel desperate." So he at least wanted to do something good for the biggest tree in the park.

On site, Theves instructed the people who had come to help: Those who know about trees, don't pour the water right at the trunk, but within a certain radius around it. "The suction roots are at the point where the treetops stop." This was new to most of them, including Christina Cichowski, who always walks her dog in the park. She joined in, "because I'm sorry that such a beautiful collection of trees is failing." Her husband Klaus said: "It would be a great help if, for example, the THW (Civil Protection Organisation) would simply connect a hose into the Rhine. Other towns do that." Remscheid for example.

Malika, Ela (both 10) and Noyan (5) had fun helping out, but also know that it is a serious concern. "It is always good for the trees that we help them instead of cutting them down," said Malika. Ela reported that she has grown trees herself and wants to make and erect wooden crosses for the felled trees in Carstanjen Park during the summer holidays together with Theves. The youngsters are definitely interested in what is happening with the trees.

According to the Institute for Federal Real Estate (BImA), which owns the park, most of the trees in the park had to be felled because they were sick or infested with pests. Theves says, "The pests come after the trees start dying of thirst,” because the wood gets weakened.

According to BImA, irrigation during dry periods is partly carried out by the company's own employees and partly by landscape service providers. "The fact that drought can still occur in isolated cases during the summer heatwaves can hardly be avoided, despite all precautions", says the press office. "In addition, BImA is already working on permanently improving the park's water supply,” it writes without further explanation. The park, which is part of a landscape conservation area and is under a historical protection order, is very important to BImA.

(Orig. text: Stefan Knopp / Translation: ck)

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