The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better. Gloria Macapahal Arroyo
Three people acting together on a project called ‘Le Transportear D’Image’ try to change the fate of the majestic plane trees along the Canal du Midi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Canal du Midi welcomes visitors from around the world bringing in millions of visitors to France. 87,000,000+ visitors come to France every year.
Frederic Journo is captain and pilot of the barge ‘Transporteur D’images’.
Gersande Bignoa is in charge of their video and press.
Lastly, Gauthier Fleuri, painter and photographer, has contributed two years of his time to this project to save the trees. His ‘Canal du Midi’ collection is an assortment of different shots while travelling the canal.
The Canal du Midi is 240 kilometers long and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1996 the Canal du Midi is on the Unesco World Heritage list. It offered safe passage and saved time for the shipment of products (salt, wine and fish) through France instead of around the pirate infested waters of Spain during the 17th century. It also protected boats from the harsh Ocean storms.
History Break: It was Pierre-Paul Riquet, the baron of Bonrepos, 1609-1680 who designed and carried out the construction of the canal. He was surprisingly tenacious in carrying out his plans. He died a year before the canal was completed, however, his two sons finished the project for him.
Why save the Canal Du Midi?
A fungal disease affecting the genus plateaus decimates the plane trees planted along the ‘Canal du Midi’. From 2006 to 2010, the French waterway authority forced to cut down 9000 of the 42000 symbolic plane trees planted along the canal. The fungus will eventually infect the remaining 31000 trees. We need to act together in order to avoid the declassification from the Unesco World Heritage list.
By buying Le Transporteur’s collection of twelve postcards, you actively take part in the preservation of this World Heritage site. Become a patron of the new plane trees that will grow along the Canal du Midi under the vigilance of the ‘Voix Navigable de France.’
Over 8,000€ raised, their conservation efforts are picking up speed. Heading towards Toulouse with a big stop in Carcassonne, they are optimistic to bring national awareness to the plight of the Plane trees.
Many believe, without the trees along the canal, tourism will trickle to a full stop. Conservationists think the trees have a mere three years left before the disease spreads to all the trees. The current trees slowly change out for a fungus resistant variety of the Plane trees. However, these trees are expensive and who pays for them? The municipalities along the canal need to team up with the federal and regional governments and put the preservation efforts on a fast track to completion, before it is too late.
Le Transporteur started in Sete. With beautiful photos hung around the communities they visit, they bring awareness to the issues around the Plane trees. Over the course of a year, they slowly make their way up the canal towards Toulouse.
We met up with Gauthier and Frederic in Capestang, while they hung a huge banner across our metal bridge. Gauthier painted in his signature style of outlines of people brought together to make up a larger imagine, bringing the idea of conservation to life through his painting. To me, the painting says: Work together, we will save the Plane trees.
I cannot stress the importance of this project for the future of southern France in particular. Many people make their living solely in tourism. By eliminating the trees, you eliminate the heritage status, tourism and of course the shade provided in the summer heat, and in turn you eliminate their livelihood.
www.letranporteurdimages.fr for contributions or purchases please contact Le Transporteur’s website to find out where they are along the canal or find out how you can help in the conservation efforts.