1300 Elder Oak Trees Were Taken to Rebuild Notre Dame’s Cathedral. In this age, why on Earth?

Another week, another eight 230-year-old oak trees chopped down from France’s national forest, Bercé. In total, an estimated 1,300-1,500 oaks will be taken by the end of March, half from public locations including 32 state and 70 municipal forests, all throughout France. 

Why? These historic, deeply rooted trees are being felled to rebuild the top of France’s Notre Dame Cathedral that burned in 2019. As millions of people all over the world coalesced around a plan to rebuild this landmark, French President Macron originally supported a more contemporary spire that would reimagine what the beacon that shines over France could look like. Plans got inventive and some architects even proposed a 3D print of the spire with its ashes. An opportunity to lead and inspire presented itself. What could a totally new and modern spire look like? How far could our creativity go?

Ultimately, the French Senate passed a conservative bill to restore the Cathedral to “its last known visual state.” Because of this decision, over a thousand oaks will be ripped from their respective ecosystems before the sap rises and humidity sets in. Happening now.

At 50-90 cm (20-36 in.) in diameter and 8-14 metres tall, these trees are said to be “needed” to represent a tower of spiritual community because of their stoic trunks and immense size. In their plan, the trees would be dried out for the next 18 months and then combined with lead, a chemical known to toxify both air and water. 

These elder oaks have been providing for the natural community for hundreds of years, rooted in their Earth connection and standing strong as beacons amongst life in their own forests. Oaks are known as keystone species, which are organisms that provide a foundation for the ecosystem in which they exist because so many other species rely on these deep rooted messengers. 

No doubt the trees must stay in the ground. Is this not the greatest reflection of the old world model of invasively extracting resources and use them for far less than what they are worth? What could be? 

Art by @em_bergie.
Work available at OpenSea.

ATTN: Artists, makers, tinkers, engineers & creatives

With a sudden key space to fill, what could be? Perhaps an image, sign, spire, spiral, piece of what unity looks like in its place instead? What beautiful expression could be had? How can transformative technologies such as 3D printing or powerful natural products like hemp shape what we know about strength and solidarity? What kinds of materials could be used to craft a modern spire over France? There is something to be said about taking a tragedy and using it as a transformative moment to reenvision such an influential and iconic landmark. 

Upload your #Unity designs to socials and tag @ cocre (IG) or @ cocreco (Tw/TT). You can also email them to content@ cocre co. From these submissions, we will be curating a gallery featuring select works available where we can loop in an impact initiative. 


Join the Petition: Time is critical to save these beautiful ancient oaks. Add your name to this Change.org petition to help show public concern.

Plant Something: With love. Anything. Anywhere.

Converse: Join a sit-in with groups like Save the Elder Oaks on Clubhouse, a space that is ‘nesting’ around this issue and providing a platform to discuss alternatives. 

Learn More: Scranton University has provided an entire catalog of resource links about ways you can mobilize around the movement to protect these trees just as they are. 

Share: Social action is really important in this timeframe. Share this overview page with your friends/family in an easy landing link: cocre.co/oaksTell your friends, (re)post on your networks, share with people you might think could help. If nothing else, let’s keep these trees in the ground!


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