When is a Tree More Than Just a Tree

When Anne Frank wrote her poignant diaries whilst in hiding from the Nazis during World War 2, she often mentioned the chestnut tree that she could see from her attic window. In her captivity, it was a source of hope and comfort: "The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew...and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn't speak." But now the 150 year old tree is dying, and is only expected to stand for another 15 years at most. The owner of the next door property where it is located wanted to have it cut down. A battle over its future erupted between those who felt that it must be maintained at any cost because of its symbolic value, and Amsterdam City Council which feared that it would topple over and hit the house. Others felt that because of its disease, it will soon become unrecognisable as her tree in any event.

As of this week, the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation has won the battle and will take over care of the tree from the City of Amsterdam. A supporting structure is to be built around the tree.

The structure to keep the tree standing will consist of a steel frame, like a corset, and prevent it from crashing into the Frank house/museum next door. A fund has been set up to collect money-- about $100,000 is needed to build it and $15,000 to maintain it annually. The frame must be completed before May when the tree will have sprouted leaves and there is a fear that the trunk will not be able to support the extra weight.

At the same time, six genetically identical specimens, grown from grafts from the original, are being nurtured in northern Holland and are already 7 feet high, in anticipation of the original being taken down at some point. :: Independent

Tags: Conservation | Diseases