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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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France proclaims trees should have rights

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

April 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – “A tree is a living organism whose average lifespan is far longer than that of a human being. It should be respected throughout its life and have the right to develop and to reproduce freely, from its birth to its natural death, whether it be a town tree or a country tree. A tree should be considered as a subject of law, including when laws regarding human property are involved.”

This astonishing proclamation of rights is perhaps the most extreme manifestation of anti-speciesism to date, way beyond the demands of animal rights campaigners who are already doing all they can to erase the differences between mankind and the animal world.

Even more remarkably, the “Declaration of tree rights” was adopted in a meeting room of the French National Assembly in Paris last Friday.

The symposium was organized under the title “Remarkable Trees” by a member of the National Assembly and former minister Delphine Batho, president of the French political environmentalist party Génération écologie since last September who is no mere backbencher.

She was elected to the National Assembly in 2007 and has since then had several high-ranking appointments. She was spokeswoman of François Hollande during his candidacy in 2012. After he was elected president of France, she became deputy minister of Justice, and after a cabinet reshuffle, minister of Ecology, Sustainable development and Energy. She left the government after having criticized the budget allocated to her ministry in 2013 and returned to the National Assembly under Socialist party colors before joining the Environmentalists in 2018.

Batho personally presided at the tree symposium together with the president of a society for the protection of trees, “A.r.b.r.e.s” and also published a number of tweets announcing the enthusiastic adoption of the declaration of rights by all the participants.

“So the declaration of rights for #trees has triggered quite a few ironic comments here… Here are a few very solid reading suggestions to share and to like,” she tweeted, adding pictures of books about the “good use” and the “secret lives” and “sensitivity” of trees.

She retweeted the message of an environmentalist urging readers to “write out” the declaration “100 times.”

Batho also said: “Our objective is to obtain a law that will recognize trees as sentient beings.”

The objective of the symposium was not completely harebrained: participants wanted better management of historic trees that are surely treasures in landscapes and towns. Working for a more beautiful environment and asking for protection of trees from being felled for utilitarian or commercial motives can be very legitimate.

To date, hundreds of trees in France have received a “remarkable tree” label since 2000 by the association, taking into account their rarity, age, size and sheer beauty, and all are still standing. They include a locust tree across the Seine from Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, planted in 1601, an oak tree in Brittany supposedly about 1,600 years old and a flourishing olive tree in Corsica that is an estimated 2,000 years old.

But the problem with modern environmentalists is that they put the protection of nature in its broadest sense on a par with human rights, diverting the meaning of human obligations away from God and fellow men as their first objects toward the animal and vegetable kingdoms. As a consequence, respect for human life comes second to the respect for “the planet” or “Mother Earth” and ultimately, man is considered as a threat to nature.

This is the philosophy behind the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG’s) of the United Nations that encourages population control through universal access to contraceptives, so-called “over-population” being presented as the main cause of the excessive use of natural resources and the disregard of “rights” of nature.

This philosophy is also deeply pagan or pantheistic in nature, not only putting the animal and vegetable realms on equal footing with humanity but crediting “nature” for all that is good. It includes promoting the aboriginal vision of the forces of nature as a wise approach to the world around us.

That is precisely the kind of thinking behind Batho’s and friends’ “Declaration of tree rights” which defines a tree as a “living being that is sensitive to changes in its environment, and that should be respected as such without being reduced to the status of a mere object.”

Trees “have a right to the airspace and underground space it needs to reach its full growth and its adult size.” “In these conditions trees have a right to their physical integrity, be it in the air (branches, trunk, foliage) or underground (root network). Damage to these organs weaken them considerably, as do the use of pesticides and other toxic substances,” the declaration continues, before demanding for every tree “the right to develop and to reproduce freely, from its birth to its natural death.”

In a glimmer of common sense, the declaration does go on to say that “some trees” are “planted and used” for the needs of man and cannot be treated according to “the criteria as stated above” – but it adds that even for these trees, their “natural life-cycle” should be respected.

Goodbye fir trees for Christmas! And woe to those who trample on seedlings or plant ornamental trees too close together, or “kill” them because they are in the way?

Giving anthropomorphic rights to trees is a typically unreasonable solution to problems that can exist, such as excessive felling or insensitivity to the beauty of nature.

In an interview with French Catholic TV station KTO, Batho said in March that she favored “radical measures” to stop global warming, “such as prohibiting air trips where train services exist.” She also warned against “populists” who are “climate skeptics, xenophobes, sexists and homophobes.” “Nationalist responses negate planetary problems. We say on the contrary that we need Europe. We can’t face the challenges of climate change from home, in our own countries. Europe needs to be at the forefront of that battle,” she said.

Fighting for trees’ “rights” is just another way of promoting the relativization of man’s unique nature, body and soul, with its specific rights, obligations, moral duties and immortal destiny.

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