Posted by: r.m. | February 24, 2011

where will the birds sing?

On my way back from a Press TV interview this evening, I saw a sad sight on the corner of the street where I live.  Three beautiful trees, formerly living lush trees, chopped up and flattened on the sidewalk.

For the past two days, I’ve seen men with chainsaws by the trees – and I foolishly thought they were simply trimming the trees, removing the branches that were falling onto the cars in the parking lot.

I wanted to believe they were only trimming the trees.

On certain blessed mornings, I would be awoken to an orchestra of rich music, an orchestra of bird songs.

Those three trees were the only patch of green in several blocks — from Hamra to Commodore street.  The trees didn’t take up any “space” — they were merely on a small strip between a parking lot and a sidewalk.

Where will the birds sing now?  Will we only hear caged birds sing in Hamra now?

How can we protect our remaining green spaces from the greed, the insatiable greed, of the ugly concrete?



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nadine Toukan, Rania Masri. Rania Masri said: where will the birds sing? […]

  2. unfortunatly this dramatic act is seen frequently in many regions throughout lebanese territories,mainly in north lebanon,where i have witnessed many similar actions.
    i think that besides greed and seeking financial return,this behavior is due mainly to extreme ignorance regarding the ultimate importance of preserving green spaces for the sake of more clean and healthy environment.
    i wish that we,as lebanese,can reach a time where public knowledge -along with more strict laws – regarding our nature’s protection,become present more efficiently in our society.

  3. In visiting Singapore last week, perhaps the world’s most densely populated industrial country, it is amazing to see how much greenery is in the streets and even hanging from the bridges. That tiny nation proudly declares that over 30% of its land is dedicated to greenery. However, it is by policy and design, not by accident.

    The comparison with Singapore is relevant because the potential similarities between Lebanon and Singapore are striking. It is difficult to comprehend or accept why Lebanon could not have achieved similar successes as Singapore. Similar questions and comparisons were raised at SCL conferences held at MIT and Washington DC.

    • Wael you reminded me of KSA. I have lived there when I was young and left it for a while and then came back…my last visit was in 2007. Anyways, I noticed that there was a sharp increase in the surfaces allocated for greenery. My school professor told me that the saudis spent billions for such a transformation and by 2020, they will be able to achieve their food self-sufficiency. Now of course, regarding the agriculture part, I imagine that’s a huge blow up of money because they could have employed half of it in sudan for example, feeding both countries, but oh well. I gave the saudi example to lament the Lebanese. We already have greenery and what are we doing to it? Systematically demolishing it.

  4. We as Lebanese have a bad habit of always trying to find the easiest way out of situations regardeless of the consequenses as long as it benefits us financially or in this case i guess, practically. A typical ignorant person, let’s say “Billy” would say:”Do i have to trim these trees every now and then, hey i got an idea, why not chop them down and get rid of this headache once and for all, after all they’re only three trees, what difference would they make and besides the neighbors would have a nice view of the parking lot incase someone tries to take their spot, hey what do you know it’s been a while since i did a favor for someone, my consciense is clear…” Yes it’s sad, and that’s one of the less embarrising examples of what’s going on in their rusted minds. Deliberately or not these people are oblivious to the fact that these trees are filtering the air from the high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air around them which is warming up the environment and that these same trees are home to many animals especially birds who feed on the
    insects reducing the amount of aerosol sprays we use to get rid of them from our households which destroy the ozone leading later on to more UV light penetrating our atmosphere causing disruption of plant photosynthesis and higher incidents of skin cancer among other problems and the chain goes on, the domino effect is up and running. The person who chopped down those trees is only one amongst many other people like him chopping down entire forests. Unless we raise awareness of
    this issue the color green would be a thing of the past and our friend Billy would have a hard time helping his children with their landscape coloring homework don’t you think?

  5. Obviously this viscous act is a result of ignorance or disregard to the importance of trees; all for the sake of some people’s own benefits. This selfishness will cost humans a lot and unfortunately it seems that our Lebanese people won’t be conscious about the results of their actions until they reach a point where they will be suffering badly! Instead of working together to limit the shaping of climate that we are facing, we are constantly misusing our natural resources. I hope that some day, the authority will be given to people that are up to this job, in a way that preserving our green spaces will be their one and only concern.

  6. i think the 1st case is our cages and the 1st impact of this situation is on humans rather than birds…
    nowadays we drink “caged” water, we eat “caged” food, we plug into “caged” electricity……well…it might come a day where we breathe “caged” air.
    one day we will find ourselves homeless like these birds because of the concrete invasion: it increases the disappearance of trees and thus decreases the quantity of oxygen available…

  7. I guess my colleagues said enough about the issue of deforestation, and i really like how Farah hoped that one day the authorities will be in the hands of those who deserve it and the allegory of the cage in Reina’s comment.
    I’m a big fan of Hamra, the old buildings, the sidewalks, some trees here and there, everything looking orange due to the “baladiye” lights.. it’s quite a charming region of beirut.. What really touched me, was when dr. Rima asked : “Where will the birds sing now? Will we only hear caged birds sing in Hamra now? ”
    It reminded me of something.. Something that i was afraid might happen, and honestly i’m too young to witness it !! The wild Cyclamen flowers in my village are being very rare to find ..
    So, i’ll attack the second issue here, things are changing very fast for our generation. When i was a kid, i used to have nature walks with my grand mother, she used to tell me about all the green leafy plants they used to get from the country side, all the varieties that barely exist in nature nowadays.. And we used to collect wild cyclamen and their tubers.. Year after year they started to be more hard to find in nature, till grandma told me : i never thought i will live and see cyclamen getting “extinct” .. and i thought that, i’m only 20 , god knows how earth will be once i get older.
    The thing is, cyclamen used to be found mostly in one part of the village, that noticed a concrete invasion in the past few years..
    So, Where will the birds sing now? Will we only hear caged birds sing in Hamra now … Will our kids be able to have nature walks ? see wild flowers in nature, and not pictures in museums or on the internet ? Trees, plants, flowers, butterfly and birds VS. pollution, trash, flies and diseases?
    If it’s not for us, we should do it for the generations to come !! We’re too selfish to think of others, even our own kids and decedents ?!!

  8. Well that’s sad to know and to watch, but i think if this was the only problem we have, we would be in perfect condition. We are facing a much bigger issue in Lebanon. There’s no authority, surveillance, law or anyone watching over the country. I mean you’re upset because 3 trees are cut down, shouldn’t we first care about people houses being torn down, and all the other problems? I mean there’s a list of things to do in order to reach the point of saving trees and actually understanding their importance. Once we can fix those primordial issues, we can start thinking about the other problems.
    There’s a lack of rationality in Lebanon, i mean they cant even decide on forming a government, which is the future of Lebanon, i mean the simplest thing, the future of 4 million person. You want them to think about a tree!?!?!?

  9. So what karim is suggesting is that , we neglect all other small problems until we find a solution for the BIG ones.. and once we get to solve the big problems, we turn and start fixing the smaller problem? but till then, those ‘non primordial’ (according to Karim) problems, will become even bigger!! so, u’ll have to deal with BIG problems again, twice!!
    If i’m gona follow u’r logic, i will go cut down 3 trees everyday, from now till…they form a government and start finding solution for primordial issues!! but their is one problem.. i will be out of trees till then !!! So i start shooting 3 birds everyday, and 3 gallons of petrol in the sea everyday ..
    While THEY lack rationality, responsibility, and are the worst leaders ever to govern a country of only , ONLY 4 million Lebanese, we should NOT wait for them to figure OUR OWN future !! we will not wait for them to find the solutions to OUR problems because they simply won’t !! and they simply don’t care !!
    It is upon us to start solving what we can, figure out our solutions.. We can not make majore changes.. but at least we can prevent cutting 3 trees here, shooting some birds, or decrease our environment pollution (cars, garbage..)
    Your comment on the other article, was that “our representatives” are successful , and you were kind of defending them.. Are you aware that these are the SAME representatives that are failing to form a government, and failing to figure out what to do with “the simplest thing, the future of 4 million person” ??
    Well i guess, it will be easier for them if they think of only a tree, apparently this is their maximum capability .. at least one being will get a decent life if they do so! Lucky tree !!

  10. I love when people argue with me 😛
    My thought was straight and simple, and im going to explain it again, here it goes (i can’t believe im debating, on the net, anyways):

    -IF Representatives decide on the well being of the nation -> They can’t decide on what’s good and what’s bad -> They won’t see the harm in cutting those 3 trees -> They won’t stop the cutting -> The 3 trees will be down (well they already are).
    -IF Representatives could decide on the well being of the nation -> They have the sufficient logic to judge what’s good and what’s bad -> They will see the harm in cutting those 3 trees -> They will stop the cutting -> The 3 trees will be saved (too late for that).

    This means, since they lack the first part, you can’t really hope for them achieving or reaching the last part. It’s a chain, a way of thinking. You either have it or you don’t. And don’t get me wrong, im not against you (as in the people to do something against it). Im explaining how it’s “logical” for them NOT TO CARE.
    Plus for the other article, my comment was:
    “Lol, funny way to put it in perspective, i never thought of it this way… But i mean if a guy is successful, he shouldn’t have a chance to become a representative?!”
    You can’t deny that Najib Mikati and Rafiq Hariri weren’t successful, you can’t make this amount of money otherwise… (and im going even to admit that they are “stealing”, since i guess this will be the first idea to cross your mind, in the term of they didn’t earn this money they stole it, i say even if they stole money you can’t make that amount of money, so they definitely, worked for it in a way or another, and let’s admit it both have companies all around the world).
    All i said, was: IF A GUY (i never said our representatives, but this applies for both candidates, Mikati and Hariri, despite of your political views, im talking in general) IS SUCCESSFUL SHOULDN’T HE HAVE A CHANCE TO BECOME A REPRESENTATIVE? In the end, you don’t want an unsuccessful person to represent you do you?!

    Karim BABA – Biol 207 – Sec 1

  11. In second paragraph it’s:
    “-IF Representatives can’t* decide on the well being of the nation” instead of
    “-IF Representatives decide on the well being of the nation”
    Sry my bad, but i cant edit what i typed…

  12. Honestly, i still can’t come up with an aswer why did they cut down these three trees that had no negative impact on anything concerning everything!
    All they resembled was the home of those poor cute orchestra birds awaking people with their fabulous music and wishing them a good day!
    Now that is really sadful 😦
    There’s is nothing i can say toward the terrible behavior witnessed because sometimes actions speak louder than words.
    But on top of all these am here to make a deal they can’t refuse.
    What if the govermnet or whoever calls himself in charge of those road trees put them on sale. Anybody who buys a road tree orphaned tree will be able to own it legally with all its rights. In this way we would be encouraging the green evironment committees and people who actually care to save these trees even if it’s going to sound materialistic but that’s the only way we can stop them or at least slow them down!

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