May 11, 2020 / 10:35 AM / 17 days ago

False claim: Photo shows trees cut down to enable 5G technology

Social media users have shared a photograph of a residential street lined with stumps, falsely claiming trees were cut down to make way for 5G technology.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

On February 4, 2019, the photo was shared on Facebook with the caption: “5G can’t pass through tree leaves so they chopped them all down.” A screenshot of this post has since been shared by a different social media user on April 2, 2020 (here) (here).

A publication for 5G planning by the British government states that some objects, including trees and hedges, can interfere with 5G signals (here).

However, the trees in the photograph were not cut down because of 5G, but because they were old and potentially dangerous.

On February 6, 2019, the photo was published in an article by Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad (here). Hannelore Smitz, the journalist who wrote the article, told Reuters that he obtained the photograph from a resident who was worried about why the trees had been felled.

The article explains that trees along the Baron Descampslaan road in the Belgium city of Leuven were cut down so they could be replaced. According to the report, Belgian politician Carl Devlies said the trees were being replaced because “some were sick, others were crooked, and some were showing signs of aging.”

Google street view confirms the photograph was indeed taken along the Baron Descampslaan. The distinctive white house and tree lined pavement in the photo can be traced to a specific part of the road.

Smitz said that the local government had now replaced the trees with healthy ones.

VERDICT

False. The trees were cut down because they were old, not because of 5G technology.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here  .

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