Jakarta – Jakarta City Council Speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi has asked the city administration to stop cutting down trees on several sidewalks in the capital following complaints from residents over what happened to the trees on the sidewalks of Jl. Cikini Raya, Central Jakarta.
"I ask that it [felling trees] should be stopped. Please re-evaluate it. I've received a lot of calls from outside about felling trees in Cikini," Prasetio said at the City Council building on Monday.
If the tree felling continues, the sidewalks will be more arid than they currently are, he said, adding that the city administration should not have felled the trees but moved them to wider sidewalks.
"If they are just being felled, they will die. If they are to be moved, there are still a lot of vacant places, such as on both sides of Jl. Sudirman," Prasetio said.
He said that in other cities, the administrations chose to manage the trees to appear tidier and more beautiful instead of cutting them down.
"Look at Surabaya in East Java. Their trees look evergreen. We already have evergreen trees, why must we cut them down from the bottom? If the branches fall we can just trim the older branches," Prasetio said.
He said the City Council would summon the Jakarta Forestry Agency soon to ask them to stop felling trees.
"We will call them soon. I will ask them, don't give ideas to the governor when there are other ideas. In my view there is another way, which is by uprooting [the trees] and planting them elsewhere," he added.
Photos of tree stumps on Jl. Cikini Raya have previously made the rounds and gone viral on social media, with netizens lamenting the fellings, which the Jakarta Forestry Agency said were part of the sidewalk renovation project in the area.
"Some trees were felled by Bina Marga Road Agency on Jl. CIkini Raya for sidewalk renovations. Some of the felled trees were angsana and ficus," Jakarta Forestry Agency head Suzi Marstiawati said as quoted by kompas.com.
Suzi said the city used to plant angsana trees because of their fast growth, but as they aged their branches became fragile.
"We're worried that if their branches break and fall, they will endanger road users, especially because they are on the sidewalks, she said.
The city used to plant ficus trees inside concrete pots, but as they got older the roots broke through the concrete pots. "That's dangerous and aesthetically incompatible with the city," Suzi said.
The agency would replace the felled trees with other kinds of shade trees that have beautiful colors and are able to filter air pollutants, she said.
"The revitalization program stipulates that the shade trees should be those that won't grow too big, with a maximum height of 10 meters and with roots that can't damage pedestrian facilities," she added. (ami)