Students bark in protest to save the trees

Western Michigan University students marched in protest against the removal of trees on their campus.

More than 60 WMU students gathered to protest the university’s removal of 58 trees in order to put a new residence hall and student center in their place, as reported by MLive. According to a poster for the event, the “Save the Trees Student Initiative” was hosted by the Students for a Sustainable Earth and the Western Michigan Biology Club

Many students held signs, which included slogans like “cut a tree, cut a life,” “teach peace,” and “we speak for the trees,” while chanting “save a tree, save a life,” as shown in a video posted on Mlive’s YouTube channel.

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“Join us for a march to denounce the plans to cut down 50+ trees near the Ernest Burnham Building on WMU’s campus,” the event’s Facebook page read. 

“Come out and tell WMU that we, students, do care about our green spaces on campus!”

The student group also shared a petition, started by Abbie Bristol, a WMU student in the group, opposing the university’s actions on its Facebook page.

“We believe in the intrinsic value of these trees as beautiful, living components of the campus landscape, and the ecosystem services these trees offer: carbon sequestration, stormwater management, and islands of habitat for wildlife on campus,” the description says.

The petition also requests a public polling for the design plan of the new buildings and wants the polling to include a new plan that would work around the trees. 

“We, concerned students, feel the university doesn’t understand what these trees really mean,” Bristol told Campus Reform, “The importance and urgency of climate change is [sic] not high enough on the administration’s list of priorities.”

“This is made clear by the removal of a hillside of mature, productive trees to be replaced with small, unspecified trees whose services will be a fraction of the services today’s trees are capable of,” she continued. “We only have 12 years left to make real progress in minimizing climate change.”

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University spokeswoman Paula Davis told MLive that the students are incorrect in saying that 58 trees will be removed because the university plans to remove only 36 trees. Nine will remain, one is near death, and 12 will be relocated.

The university also plans on planting 75 more trees on location and in other areas of campus, Davis told MLive.

Campus Reform reached out to Davis, but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @knelson1776