Tree avenues and road safety

In all countries, "forgiving roadside" safety policies that associate road safety with the necessary absence of roadside obstacles make it difficult or impossible to keep avenue trees and plant new ones

The international ‘Essential Beauty of Trees’ symposium that took place at the Aude County Council headquarters in Carcassonne (France) from 19 to 20 November, 2023, made a point of presenting the scientific and ethical arguments necessary to be able to assert that the preservation or creation of tree avenues must not be restricted by regulations governing the proximity of trees to the edge of the road. All presentations are available here.

The symposium pointed out that the issues of today are not the same as those of the 1960s and 70s, a time that saw the development of the ‘forgiving roadside’ doctrine.

The symposium demonstrated that the level of road safety in different regions is unrelated to tree avenues and that, on the contrary, tree avenues enhance life, whether in terms of physical health (far beyond their positive effect on the care exercised at the wheel and on speed reduction, and hence on the causes and gravity of accidents), mental health or biodiversity. In particular, the beauty of tree avenues is essential: for the human environment, for our mental health, for social cohesion, and for a country’s or a region’s public image or identity.

The Carcassonne Declaration adopted at the conclusion of the symposium therefore states that:

  • tree avenues of any kind are cultural and natural heritage assets that enhance life;
  • public policies must be concrete reflections of this in order to ensure the preservation and replanting of tree avenues;
  • application of minimum spacing distances for the maintenance and replanting of tree avenues (distances from the roadside or from adjacent properties) must be abandoned.

Real the full text of the Declaration here.

At present, the Carcassonne Declaration is supported by participants at the symposium Île et Vilaine (France) senator Daniel Salmon France’s honorary senator Marie-Christine Blandin Seine et Marne (France) MP Aude Luquet Aude County Council (France) chair Hélène Sandragné Aude County Council vice-chair in charge of Roads and Mobilities Tamara Rivel Aude County Council vice-chair in charge of Ecological Transition Francis Morlon Augny (France) deputy mayor in charge of environmental matters Claude Bertsch Newbury (UK) town councillor Steve Masters and Sheffield (UK) honorary town councillor Alison Teal.

The Carcassonne Declaration is available for signature throughout Europe and across the world. If you are interested or know of interested elected representatives, please do contact us.