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Men face hundreds of thousands in fines after illegally cutting down trees for better lakeside view: 'We will … rigorously enforce these regulations'

"It's so important that we protect our trees."

"It's so important that we protect our trees."

Photo Credit: iStock

In St. Catharines, a city in the Canadian province of Ontario, four people have been charged with a total of 776 offenses for cutting down numerous city-owned trees, the St. Catharines Standard reported.

The motive for the 776 crimes: improving the views of a pond next to a condominium development.

"I have seen the photos — and we're not talking about cutting a little bit of brush to see the pond. We're talking about cutting trees this big around," Port Dalhousie Coun. Carlos Garcia said, reportedly holding his hands about a foot apart. "It's so important that we protect our trees."

Unfortunately, illegally cutting down trees to "improve" views is not uncommon. In Australia, more than 500 trees, many of which were more than a century old, were cut down in the Sydney area by homeowners seeking to enhance the resale values of their mansions. Local governments have struggled to curtail the activity.

Similarly, in Maine, two wealthy homeowners are in hot water after allegedly poisoning their neighbors' trees with a powerful herbicide.

At least in St. Catharine's the perpetrators are facing some repercussions. The city said that if found guilty, each of the four individuals could be fined up to 194,000 Canadian dollars (about $142,000).

"We will continue to rigorously enforce these regulations to ensure the well-being of our community and its natural resources," said bylaw enforcement manager Paul Chudoba.

Even when it is not specifically prohibited, cutting down trees is not an activity that should be taken lightly. Trees are an essential part of the ecosystems in which they live. They also play a crucial role in filtering planet-overheating carbon dioxide out of the air and producing oxygen.

Studies have shown how valuable trees are especially in urban areas, which risk becoming heat traps without them.

In short, getting a better view of the pond next to your condo is not a good reason to cut down a tree, much less multiple trees.

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