The Devastating Death of Canal du Midi




Man and machines are attacking hundreds of kilometers of 200-year-old plane trees whose twisted trunks now groan, crack and splinter as power saws fatalistically devastate one of France’s crown jewels (See film review below).

Soon such bucolic scenes on the Canal du Midi will be no more. Photo: French News Online

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The terrible slaughter underway is dramatically captured here in a short film by Jacques AMAGAT showing brutal images against a background punctuated only by the scream and clash of heavy machinery. It’s a film that, while accepting the inevitability of it all, offers some lingering doubt, asking a viewer to stop and ponder the machines that undo in days what nature has taken decades to create.


Le Canal du Midi en chirurgie par jacko_34H

Film clip by Jacques AMAGAT/Daily Motion

For as FrenchNewsOnline reported here a year ago: “A virulent incurable canker stain disease is killing the magnificent plane trees shading the banks of the 240km-long Canal du Midi and threatening the survival of an extraordinary 17th century feat of French engineering.”

Unesco declared the canal a world heritage site in 1996, saying it had “provided the model for the flowering of technology that led directly to the Industrial Revolution and the modern technological age”.

The 60,000 trees planted along the canal serve three purpose: to buttress the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade canal boats which originally transported textiles and wine but today carry canal boating enthusiasts.

The horror movie shown above will surely leave any who have sailed on, cycled by or lived near this extraordinary canal, shocked and dismayed.

French experts have hesitated until they can wait no longer and so to stop the spread of the canker they are now removing thousands of trees each year in a task that will take a decade or more.

They will be replanted with a canker-resistant variety but the new trees will take years to reach the same size and shape as the gnarled soldiers that shade the waters today.

Weep with the locals as nature takes a terrible toll.

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Text amended following this Twitter feedback:

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