People chose it as the second most beautiful tree-lined avenue in the Czech Republic, now the trees have been felled

4.2.2014 - JESENÍK
The Priessnitz colonnade in Jeseník
©Zdeňka Hanzelová

The Priessnitz colonnade won the imaginary silver medal in the survey Tree-lined Avenue of the year 2013, now a part of it is being felled. In place of the tens of felled trees, the park managers are to plant 89 young lime trees. The non-governmental organisation Arnika was informed about it by one of the local natives and started to deal with the felling immediately. According to the ecologists, the fundamental and long-term problem, also in this case, is an insufficient focus on the trees´ care and the underestimation of their maintanance by their owners. Priessnitz Medical Spa Company and Vincenz Priessnitz Society are responsible for the so-called revitalization of the colonnade.

"We see the felling as very extensive and it is definitely the negative and direct result of neglected maintanance in the past. For the future, it is crucial for the owner to clearly explain how he plans to take care of the tree-lined avenue in the coming decades and where to get the financial means. The one-time chopping down and replanting of the trees is not a solution for the problem," says tree-conservation expert, RNDr. Marcela Klemensová from Arnika. "We have contacted the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, the municipality of Jeseník and the investor of the problematic revitalization. We found out that some of the trees, which, luckily, are not to be chopped down, are to receive professional intervention in order to strengthen the treetops and generally to improve the stability of the trees. The investor has also promised to create so-called loggeries from some of the tree fragments, to renew the process of preservation in the park, which could help to conserve the current biodiversity in the park. The supervision will be held by inspectors directly in the location," adds Klemensová.

If there is lack of proper care for the trees, their health is going to get worse. After decades of neglecting them, the owners prefer intervention, simple from their point of view, but radical for local ecosystems, where tens of old trees are felled. Attention to the environment is paradoxically worsened by using European funds, that allow for the financing of widespread felling ina tree-lined avenue, but not for the long-term care of the aged trees.

"It is a renewal of the bigger part of the avenue. It is quite a radical intervention, but the project was prepared very reasonably. So, during the revitalization, it is not the whole avenue which is being felled and planted, but only the most damaged parts, selected on the basis of a health examination by experts. The renewal also includes auxiliary measures to support biodiversity – e.g. biotopes for reptiles. In the end, the investor has chosen a compromise, a procedure primarily meeting the requirements for the safety of people passing through the colonnade, and enabling us to preserve the functionality of the avenue as an important landscape element at the same time," says dendrologist RNDr. Irena Vágnerová from the regional center of the Nature Conservation Agency in Olomouc, who commented on the 'Revitalisation of Spa Colonnade Greenery' project earlier during its preparation.

According to the information at Arnika's disposal, the Czech Environmental Inspectorate has had to stop the felling once before. The investor did not fulfil the so-called biological evaluation (expert opinion examining possible concerns with especially protected species) and the relevant

decisions as to permissible exceptions to rules spelt out in the Act on Nature and Landscape protection were also missing. Currently, all administrative acts are done in accordance with the law, however it is necessary to checkon the spot, if the project is being carried out in accordance with the requirements set by the nature protection institution.

In the survey Tree-Lined Avenue of the Year 2013, the Priessnitz colonnade in Jeseník got nearly 17% of the votes and took second place, after the avenue connecting Jedovnice with Lažánky in southern Moravia. Photo of the avenue is available at this address:

The Arnika organisation has been monitoring endangered avenues for many years. It initiated the petition "Save the Trees" demanding the better legal protection of tree-lined avenues, and trees which are part of scenic landscapes as well as those in cities. The petition was supported by more than 30 thousand people. In addition, Arnika has created the first countrywide statistics and has pointed out that more than 100 thousand trees have vanished from roads in the Czech Republic during the last few years.



Supported by a grant from Switzerland through the Swiss Contribution to the enlarged European Union and the German Federal Environmental Foundation.

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