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Trees around our Roads are disappearing, Regional Road Maintenance admits it reluctantly

Czech Republic - 12 November 2013

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If we lined all the trees up, the alley would be long enough to reach prom Prague to Olomouc – but  17 640 lindens, oaks, chestnuts, and other woody plants do not stand around our roads anymore. They were cut down by road maintenance which takes care for roads that are not classified as A-roads. Most of the trees were cut down in the Central Bohemia region, the least if them in the region Liberec. So say the conclusions of a brand new statistics of alley-felling, released by the association Arnika. The numbers analysed by this non-governmental organization come directly from data supplied by regional road administrations. It was planted only 10 870 young trees. Even from a short glance at the data, it is obvious, that planting cannot keep pace with felling, and that alleys are disappearing from our countryside in a dangerously high rate.

Altogether more than 120 thousand trees were felled in the period  2003-2011, such an amount of trees could stand on both sides of a road from Prague to Rome. What is also important is the ratio of the cut-down to newly planted trees. The best results have the regions Moravia-Silesia and Central Bohemia, where road maintenance planted more trees then they cut down. However, it is not clear, whether these trees were planted near the roads or on quite different places. A number of regions did not provide complete information concerning felling and planting of trees.

Region

Felled  

Planted 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Region

Felled

Planted

South Bohemia

16 108

5 006

Olomouc    

6 889

2 379

South Moravia

12 044

10 700

Pardubice

12 375

7 517

Karlovy Vary

4 128

866

Plzeň

15 348

2 119

Hradec Králové    

4 609

148

Central Bohemia    

22 672

22 933

Liberec

1 863

21

Ústí nad Labem

4 736

2 429

Moravia-Silesia

4 215

4 976

Vysočina

5 716

5 090

Zlín

9 764

6 008

 

 

 

Total

120 467

70 192

 

More details are on the net: http://arnika.org/kaceni-podle-kraju

„Some regional road administrations refuse to give information concerning the number of trees around roads in their maintenance that were cut down. Before we started asking about it, road maintenance in some regions did not even have such overviews. The general trend clearly shows, that trees from around regional roads are disappearing, significantly less trees are planted then cut down - to both nature's and drivers' disadvantage. Alleys that are well treated are not only full of life, but also help drivers with orientation in low-visibility conditions or prevent snow from being blown over the road,“ comments the leader of the campaign Let's Save the Trees RNDr. Marcela Klemensová from Arnika on the results of the statistics. She also says, that tree avenues ate a typical feature of not only Czech, but also Central-European countryside and have several other functions.

Alleys have been standing for many, often even hundreds of years around the roads. When motorists obey the traffic code, no one has any problem – neither drivers nor trees. The trees stay out of the way and cars stay on the road. Problems are caused by several driver failures, such as high velocity, alcohol, narcotics, and so on. For reducing the possible risks, it is helpful to lower the speed limit in the alley or to install crash barriers. Felling trees as so called solution is very short-sighted and it is not a sustainable solution, especially if we are aware of the fact that the alleys have great value for tourist industry,“ says Erwin Pfeiffer, a member of the council of the German Alley Road and the director of tourist services of the German automobile club ADAC (2).

Which trends are to be seen?

10 out of 13 regional road administrations provided incomplete information.

The number of trees cut down in alleys is far higher than that of newly planted trees.

In cases the road administration reported planting of new trees, it is definitely not sure if they were planted in the alleys. Some of them admitted, that the trees were planted some place else that near the roads. It is to be suspected, that in many cases an alley was cut down, and that the new trees were planted on an completely different place.

The overview does not inform of all cases of felling in alleys: the A-roads, motorways, and highways are under the maintenance of the Directorate of roads and highways of the Czech Republic, whereas local and tertiary communications are handled by municipalities, the capital Prague takes care of all types of roads in the city except for highways. Felling after natural disasters can be done by emergency services without notifying the road administration. Therefore, total number of fallen alleys in countryside for each region can be much worse. Arnika has been watching mainly the state of so called "district roads" (the non-A-roads), where the alleys historically belong to, and where majority of the most precious Bohemian and Moravian alleys grow.

„For decades, since the communist regime started, nobody has taken care of alleys.  In the last twenty years we have witnessed how instead of giving the trees the necessary care, not only neglected and also beautiful trees around roads are being cut down. Even though several years ago Arnika offered the regions a conception which deals with the topic how to take care of alleys. Arnika also suggested a solution which would improve their safety. Alleys in countryside, including those standing around the roads, are beneficial both for nature and people, including motorists. Trees need above all care, and it is crucial to protect the alleys, restore, and develop the conception, something that is happening only in some of the regions,“ says Arnika's press agent Vratislav Vozník.

How may trees are disappearing from around roads in the Czech Republic?

 

Statistics of felling and planting trees in roadside alleys in the Czech Republic 2003-2011

Overview of regions according to the ratio of the cut-down and planted alley trees (from the worst to the best)

mapaweb1

Region Ratio cut-down:planted trees
1.

Moravia-Silesia

1:1.2
2.

Central Bohemia

1:1
3.

South Moravia

1.13:1
4. Vysočina 1.14:1
5. Zlín 1.62:1
6. Pardubice 1.64:1
7. Ustí nad Labem 2:1
8. Olomouc 2.9:1
9.

South Bohemia

3.2:1
10. Karlovy Vary 6:1
11. Plzeň 7:1
12. Hradec Králové 31:1
13. Liberec 89:1


Overview of regions according to the amount of money invested into planting of alleys and care of the trees

Region CZK

South Moravia

24 057 887

Central Bohemia

22 929 040

Pardubice

20 370 103
Moravia-Silesia 10 816 953
Karlovy Vary 8 125 853
Olomouc 4 327 000
Zlín 3 118 341
South Bohemia 2 164 278

Plzeň

1 517 768
Hradec Králové 1 292 258
Liberec 227 000
Ústí nad Labem 248 666
Vysočina ?

 

A positive example makes the road maintenance in the region Vysočina. After Arnika painted some alleys with safety lines, they took the initiative and started painting the trees themselves. Based on dialogue with Arnika, the road maintenance has successfully submitted several EU grants and expertly treated a number of historic alleys. It seems that the situation is improving also in some other regions, and the road maintenances are introducing these arrangements and looking for finances to plant alleys. But it takes some time before this becomes evident in the statistics.

Other means of protecting roadside trees and road users are mainly a regular expert treatment of trees, lowering of speed limits in alleys or introducing a new traffic sign „Caution, you are driving through an alley“ – such as it has been done in the neighbouring Germany. Suggestions of nature-friendly arrangements are to be found on Arnika's website, and we have also prepared a conception of alley development in the Czech Republic, which can be downloaded too, and was sent to all relevant ministries and regions.

Arnika has been protecting alleys for several years. We initiated the petition „Let's Save the Trees“ demanding a better legal protection of alleys and trees both in the cities and the countryside. The petition was supported by more than 30 thousand people. Also thanks to them we succeeded in getting through a law amendment and cancelling the exception, which was giving the road maintenance right to fell alley trees without permission. Arnika also created the first whole-land based statistics and pointed out that more than 100 thousand trees disappeared from around the roads in the Czech Republic during the past few years.

Notes:

(1) The law of environmental and landscape protection states that for felled trees substitutive planting must be made. However, it does not strictly order, that the new trees have to be re-planted in the original alleys. The planted trees often end in city parks, which is irrelevant to restoring the felled alley.

(2) ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club) is the biggest automotive club in Europe, having more than 18 million members. Since 1992 it has been financing the 2500 km long „German Alley Road“, which connects tourist attractive locations across all German federal states with roads lined with alleys. More at:  http://arnika.org/nemecka-alejova-cesta-deutsche-alleenstrasse

Press agent: Vratislav Vozník, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel. 222 781 471, 606 727 942