Environment Commissioner Klelia Vassiliou on Wednesday stepped into the fracas over felled trees on Makarios Avenue with a letter to Nicosia municipality asking to be briefed on how the decision was taken.

In the letter she posted on her Facebook page, the commissioner cited the strong protests from members of the public and the criticism levelled by the Greens.

She specifically asked to be informed why it was essential to remove the existing trees, whether efforts were made to protect or replant them, whether more trees than initially planned had been cut, whether the public had previously been informed and when did the municipal council take the decision, and who voted in favour and who against.

The response would be useful as regards similar future phenomena, to provide the public with convincing arguments and determine whether the legal framework needs amending, she added.

“Protests after the event by all of us unfortunately have no beneficial result, nor does social upheaval. That is why I would please ask that you inform us whether consultations were held over the specific act, in what way and who too part,” she concluded.

Video provided by Stephanie Ioannides

The letter follows outrage over the felling of dozens of trees as part of the revamp of Makarios Avenue.

Nicosia municipality has defended its actions which it said was approved by the forestry department. Another 300 “mature” trees will be planted along the avenue, the municipality added.

The trees which will be removed concern “old trees” and those belonging to “species not suitable in urban areas” because their roots damage the underground infrastructure and sidewalks, or because their fruits stain the pavements, the municipality said.

Trees that were planted in a location which prevents the project will also be removed.

Smaller trees will not be cut but replanted in municipal parks.

According to the municipality, “the new trees that will be planted will have a height of more than four metres and the species selection will take into account the ‘bioclimatic behaviour’, shading and other aspects”.