After concerns that they were being exploited, a video showing children screaming as a tree was cut on a site near their Co Wicklow school was removed from Facebook.
The Save Enniskerry group posted the video on Facebook. It shows a tall, ivy-clad tree being removed from a site for new homes. Although they are not visible in the video, it is clear to hear the children of Powerscourt National School Enniskerry reacting to the felling.
The video attracted strong reactions by environmentalists and child advocates and was covered by international media including the UK Independent, New York Post and others.
John Gibbons, a campaigning journalist, tweeted: Oh my goodness, this is so horrible! It seems that only young children are capable of seeing the real damage we are causing to the world around, and their screams reflect pure despair.
Save Enniskerry spokeswoman said: We shared this video because it was so symbolic of our efforts to get planners, developers, and councilors to take nature into consideration when they develop land.
She said that the video showed children not being too hardened or socialized not to care about the environment. The Save Enniskerry initial post stated that a bird-of-prey had been living in the tree, and that children loved watching it from school.
The Save Enniskerry Facebook page was taken down after Powerscourt National School principal and some parents were outraged that the video had been posted online. A representative of the parents stated that many had opposed what they considered to be the exploitation by the campaigners against the tree’s felling.
Save Enniskerry is a new campaigning group that stated that the school requested to be disassociated from the video and that the group removed the video. The spokesperson acknowledged that the group was media-nave and was surprised by the amount of attention it received.
Save Enniskerry spokesperson stated that the main goal of the group is to find sensible solutions for over-development in the village, which threatens rivers, special conservation areas and Knocksink wood. . . Developers should take note and work with nature, not against it. We could preserve the natural landscape and nature that we have in our village. She said that Enniskerry’s natural and built heritage is what makes it so beautiful.
Catherine Nunes, from The Shaking Bog Nature Festival in Glencree Valley, said that she encourages people to appreciate nature more and is concerned about the effects of Enniskerry’s planned development on biodiversity and landscape.
The shared video demonstrated one of the subtle and hidden effects on our natural environment. Nunes expressed concern about the degrading of Knocksinkwood.
Enniskerry, which has a population of less than 2,000 people, has seen many new housing developments over the past few years.
Wicklow County Council planning applications show that an arborists’ report was submitted to support the application for 27 homes to be built on the Cookstown Road site near Powerscourt National School. This report stated that landscaping of the entire site would reduce the risk of trees being lost during development. According to the same report, six out of 40 trees on the site would have to be felled to make way for access and paths. Other trees would remain protected by construction proof barriers.
According to Mick ORegan (project manager at Hayfield Homes), we have not exceeded the number trees that must be felled as per the planning permission. This was stated by Mick ORegan to The Irish Times on Friday. He said that more trees would be planted than they were felled. Details are being worked out with Wicklow County Council. The decision about the hedgerow that acts as a boundary and runs parallel to the development is still being made.
However, watching the children’s reactions when a tall tree is felled near their school could raise concerns about whether they are being weighed down by environmental issues they can’t control.
Sharon Greene, parent and archaeologist, said that children must see the need for change and not be burdened with it. While there is a lot of emphasis on teaching children about heritage and the environment, they are not the problem. Greene stated that disillusionment after an event like this can have a long-term negative impact.
John Sharry, a psychologist who has written extensively on eco anxiety in young people, said that there was a huge disconnect in what we teach our children in school and how it affects how we behave together. We teach children the facts about climate change and biodiversity loss in school. This clearly shows that we are heading towards environmental disaster. He said that their parents and society act as if there is no emergency, and they live lives that further push us towards destruction when they return home.