Tree felling: a necessary evil

CERN started a campaign of tree felling in 2010 for safety reasons, and it will continue this year in various parts of the Meyrin site. As in previous years, the trees cut down in 2013 will be recycled and some will be replaced.


Diseased tree that had to be cut down on the Meyrin site.

In association with the Geneva nature and countryside directorate (Direction générale de la nature et du paysage, DGNP), CERN commissioned the Geneva school of landscaping, engineering and architecture (Haute école du paysage, d’ingénierie et d’architecture, HEPIA) to compile an inventory of the trees on the Meyrin site. In total, 1285 trees (excluding poplars) were recorded. 75.5% of these trees were declared to be in a good state of health (i.e. 971 trees), 21.5% in a moderate state of health (276 trees) and 3% in a poor state of health (38 trees).

As for the poplars, the 236 specimens recorded on the Meyrin site were judged to be too old, too tall, poorly situated or developing a root system harmful for roads and underground networks, so all of them will eventually have to be cut down.

It was in this context that, in 2010, the GS department began an initial tree-felling campaign (see the article from Bulletin 16-17/2010). Some trees posed a genuine danger to people and property; others were also cut down to make way for new developments (see box).

Another example of tree in a poor state of health.

In 2013, several dozen trees (87 in total) have already had to be cut down. Over the next few years, other tree-felling campaigns will take place, bringing the total number of trees felled on the Meyrin site to 274.

However, it is important to note that the trees cut down will be replaced as part of an intiative to develop more open spaces at CERN, currently under development in partnership with the DGNP. In addition, the felled trees will be cut into chips, to be used particularly as firewood.

Tree felling campaign: what is at stake?

The safety of people and property: some of the trees felled were too old and too tall; they were not able to withstand the wind and there was a risk of them falling. In addition, several trees had already been uprooted due to two simultaneous factors: waterlogged ground and a shallow spreading root system.

Development of space, transport and the environment: the space freed up by the tree-felling campaign allows for new sustainable transport networks (pedestrian routes, cycle routes, etc.). This network will consist of new green spaces which are specially designed and planned to encourage sustainable transport.


by CERN Bulletin