VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — The felling of a healthy century-old oak without permission in downtown Vilnius has caused outrage in Lithuania, with the city’s mayor seeking to impose a fine of 141,000 euros on the development company responsible.
The tree was cut down Saturday on an undeveloped plot of land in the capital of the Baltic country, which once considered oaks sacred. New construction is planned for the site.
The developer, an Estonian-owned real estate company, said that the tree was damaging drainage. It said the removal of the oak was envisioned in the detailed plan for the plot and that no permit was necessary, because the tree was growing on utility lines.
On Facebook, Vilnius mayor Valdas Benkunskas insisted that no permit had been issued and that the case would be referred to prosecutors.
The removal of the tree angered the public and also drew reactions from political leaders, including President Gitanas Nauseda who said the “barbaric act” spat in the face of the capital’s residents.