Pandora's Bonsai

By Misch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Fun Fact: There are hundreds of thousands of natural bonsai trees in Luxembourg's forests. Asking why, is like kicking a hornet's nest. Because the question cannot be answered without talking about wildlife… which leads inevitably to the question of hunting.

When you walk through the forest, you hardly notice them because the small hedge-like plants only reveal themselves to be much older trees when you take a closer look. Those miniature trees would – just like man-made bonsais – actually grow to a normal size if the newly grown shoots were not constantly removed. Be it in fussy, loving manual labour, or, as here in the wild, by the animals. It could have been a cosy trivia article: Show some figures presenting the biodiversity problem that results from selective eating- that is, biting off buds, twigs and leaves from certain species of plants – a presentation of the long-term problems of self-sustaining monocultures that we are already feeling today, an interview with a forester, some suggestions for solutions. Maybe a picture gallery of particularly cute mini trees. Closing time. But Pandora's box was open. And it is filled with bonsais.

When you ask about "damage caused by game", "hunting" is the most common answer. Accompanied by the well-intentioned but emphatic hint that talking about "damage caused by game" is really not that simple. Talking about hunting even less so. 36 groups were involved in the amendment of the hunting law in 2011, from farmers to veganism associations, foresters, landowners, and hunters. All with their own views and some more willing to compromise than others. As with any good controversy, the crux of the matter are too many emotions, too much money and too few numbers. On the subject of emotions: Recently, the issue of hunting has become a political hot-topic under the Covid 19 restrictions after Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg (déi gréng) temporarily banned battue, along with other "recreational activities". The ban itself met with resistance – not only because hunters have to pay for any damage caused by game. But especially the choice of words "hunting as a leisure activity" did not go uncommented. The exposed nerve needs no explanation: people shooting at animals will likely never be fully accepted.

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