Normally associated with late autumn and early winter, the pruning season for Rome's trees has instead begun in August. The order forms part of the programme of work taking place on Rome's streets, otherwise largely deserted during August.
It is a decision that has been criticised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which fear it could be the ruination of the trees, many of which are already under pressure from this summer's high temperatures. Also in agreement is Franco Bruno, professor of botany at Rome's La Sapienza university, who argues that the correct time for the pruning is between October and January. City authorities have defended the timing of the project however, by claiming it will cause minimum disruption to traffic.
In addition to their objection to the timing of the pruning, the WWF isconcerned about the manner in which the trees have been pruned in recent years. WWF vice president Raniero Maggini claimed there has been a noticeable trend in concentrating on pruning the top of the trees, which causes continued upward growth and can eventually lead to a top-heavy effect. He cited a recent example of a tree falling on a passing car on Via Cristoforo Columbo.
The main areas affected by the pruning are Prenestino, Prati, Parioli and the historic centre.