A man was caught on camera last weekend slashing at a street tree sapling in Ridgewood. The man used a large knife to repeatedly whack at the top of the sapling, eventually causing the top to mostly fall off before fleeing the scene.
In the video shown to QNS, the man is believed to have been accompanied by his four children and wife. They each stop once they approach the tree in question before the man slashed at it 12 times. Once the top of the tree fell off after the final slash, the man and the rest of the group walked away.
According to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, they are currently investigating the incident while also remaining in contact with the 104th Precinct. As they search for the suspect, they also encourage anyone who may have information on the incident to contact the 104th Precinct or call 311. Additionally, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation stated that the tree will be replanted, pending the results of the investigation.
“From the video, the tree appears to be recently planted, which means it is likely under guarantee,” a Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson said. “It should be able to be replaced by our contractor.”
According to Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association Counsel Paul Kerzner, the man in the video has potentially done a lot of damage to the community through this act. He believes the perpetrator should be forced to at least 30 days of community service for his actions.
“We’ve had this kind of vandalism before, though it’s been a while,” Kerzner said. “It’s called arborcide. The man [in the video] should have to make restitutions to restore the tree and serve 30 days either in jail or performing community service.”
Kerzner also stressed the importance of the role these trees play in helping the community. He noted how they give off oxygen to help people breathe while also helping to purify the air by absorbing carbon dioxide. Kerzner also said having trees like these in the area can help combat climate change.
Section 18-129 of the New York City Administrative Code states that there will be fines for the unlawful cutting of trees on Parks Department property. The only exception permitted for cutting trees is having written consent from the Parks Commissioner. The removal or damaging of a tree without the required permit is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and/or up to one year of imprisonment.