Paint and Protect: Tree-lined avenue near Zásmuky is now safer

19.6.2015 - ZÁSMUKY/MLÉKOVICE (Kolín District, Central Bohemia Region)

Last Thursday and Friday, eighth graders from Zásmuky´s elementary school and volunteers from the surrounding area, worked together to paint nearly 150 trees that line the avenue from Zásmuky to Mlékovice. Trees are now easier to spot while driving. They are also helping drivers better navigate, especially during bad weather days or at night. Local branch of Czech Union for Nature Conservation strives to improve protection via the law and the white stripes tend to reduce the risk of the trees being felled, as "traffic obstruction". Over two hundred and forty people from all over the Czech Republic contributed to the "Paint for tree-lined avenue in Zásmuky", especially from Central Bohemia Region and Prague. Some of them even arrived to paint trees personally. This event was organized by Arnika Association.

Photos from this event here: http://arnika.org/natirani-lipove-aleje-v-zasmukach-18-6-2015

"From our perspective, this was an important preventive measure. By doing this, we met the road builder´s requirements for the road and traffic safety. We assume that the road workers will now be able to better protect tree-lined avenues themselves. It would become an important element of the landscape under the Act on the Protection of Nature and Landscape, which corresponds to its ecological and historical value. Research shows that the white reflective stripes on trees along the roads significantly increase safety for drivers, especially at night or in poor visibility. Safety stripes help drivers to keep the right direction and help them to navigate. Additionally, each felled tree causes harm to the environment, because the trees clean the air, produce oxygen, and form a distinctive character of the Czech and Moravian landscape," explained RNDr. Marcela Klemensová, from Arnika, chief of the campaign "Save the Trees."

"The historical roots of the tree-lined Zásmuky´s road date back to the 17th century. Their origin is associated with the owner of the Zásmuky-estate, Adolf Vratislav of Sternberk. Linden trees were planted as a thank you for helping thwart European-wide plague from impacting Zásmuky. The plan is to ensure the registration of the tree avenue leading from Zásmuky to Mlékovice as a significant landscape component, which in the future will provide better protection from felling," said the chairman of the local branch of Czech Union for Nature Conservation in Zásmuky, Milan Petr.

People have helped preserve tree-lined avenues regularly in cooperation with Arnika. A total of 770 people have contributed an amount exceeding 350,000 crowns for the so-called "Paint for tree-lined avenue" campaign, during the years 2009-2015. Arnika has utilized the money from previous donations to fund the painting of over six hundred trees in the tree avenues in the north Moravia, Zlin region, in central Bohemia region, and in the Vysočina Highlands. There, local road workers then took the "baton" from the NGO and started to provide hundreds of trees with their own white safety stripes.

"People´s help is definitely welcome. The Road Administration of the Central Bohemian Region takes care of trees around roads too. Even Arnika statistics show that in our region the number of trees along the roads is increasing. We denote trees in selected sections by white stripes and also reflectors and we intend to continue." says engineer and road dendrologist from the Regional Road Administration of the Central Bohemian Region, Jaroslav Hudec.

Other ways to protect trees around the roads and road users are regular professional tree care and reducing the maximum speed in the alley. Also, the introduction of new warning signs like "Attention, you are passing through a tree-lined avenue", which is similarly used in neighboring Germany, have been found to make a positive impact. Suggestions of environmentally friendly measures are contained on Arnika's web site along with conceptual materials for the maintenance of tree avenues in the Czech Republic, which are available for download, and have also been sent to all relevant ministries and regional offices .

"Trees growing in the tree-lined avenues along roads are sometimes blamed for the fact that they cause traffic accidents. The real cause is different, because it is mainly the lack of attention of drivers, careless driving, and excessive speed, as evidenced by police statistics. Additional measures such as road marking and installation of new crash barriers, can contribute to safety" says Klemensová.

Arnika has been protecting our tree-lined avenues for several years. The organization initiated a petition "Save the Trees" calling for better protection by the law for tree avenues and trees in the countryside and in the cities. This petition was supported by more than 35 thousand people. Also, thanks to those supporters, we succeeded in passing an amendment to the law and abolished the exception which enabled road authorities cut down trees along the roads without permission. Arnika also created the first national statistics and discovered that during the last few years more than 166,000 trees have disappeared from the roads in the Czech Republic.

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