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Cracow. Officials boast about the trees they plant, activists criticize

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The Krakow Municipal Greenery Authority reports that more trees are planted in the city than cut down. However, according to the Society for the Protection of Nature, this is only seemingly good news, and new trees do not compensate for the lack of those cut down.

According to the ZZM in Krakow, currently around 220,000 are growing in the areas managed by it. trees. Officials argue that since 2015, more trees have been planted in Krakow every year than cut down.

According to the data published by ZZM, in recent years, on average, 1,961 trees were felled annually, 2,800 were planted. In 2015 – 2,931 were cut and 2,070 were planted, in 2016 – the ratio of 1,091 cut to 1,501 planted, in 2017 – 2,151 to 2,944, in 2018 – 3,090 to 4,467, in 2019 – 2,528 to 2,937, in 2020 – 2005 to 2,937, in 2021 – 937 to 3,658, in 2022 – 962 to 2,726. The data do not include small forest seedlings, which, according to ZZM, grow up to tens of thousands every year.

So far, the ZZM inventory has covered about 70 percent. all trees in your area. And under it, trees in a worse condition and posing a threat, as well as windbreaks, are cut down first. – The number of fellings decreases every year, which can be seen very strongly from 2021, because the condition of high greenery is improving. The old stand is replaced with a younger one and this is a necessary procedure – assessed Piotr Kempf, director of the Municipal Greenery Management. According to officials, old trees after health tests need to be cut down “so that future generations can enjoy healthy and magnificent greenery”.

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Read also: 20 trees near Błonia can go under the axe. “A project full of absurdity”

Young trees will not replace old ones

– There is nothing to brag about – commented on the information ZZM Mariusz Waszkiewicz, president of the Society for the Protection of Nature.

According to him, the conversion factor used for felling and new plantings should be based on the measurement of tree circumferences. – If trees with a total trunk circumference of 500 centimeters are cut down, then trees with the same total circumference should be planted. And that would be compensation, he said. And he emphasized: – A newly planted tree with a circumference of 14 centimeters will be a real compensation only in 40 years.

We asked the Municipal Greenery Authority in Krakow to change the planting ratio from 1:1 to the sum of trunk circumferences. We received a reply from Aleksandra Mikolaszek, head of the residents contact team.

“Solutions in this area and the conversion factor used for felling and planting are not within the competence of ZZM. The Municipal Greenery Authority in Krakow is an executive body and not a decision-making body, therefore each time a request for felling is submitted to the appropriate authority issuing a decision in this regard. the person issuing the decision to remove the tree decides on the number of trees to be planted as compensation” – said Mikolaszek. At the same time, she noted that “the authority issuing decisions for the removal of such trees makes the decision to plant several young trees for one removed”.

Read also: The trees along the Bug have disappeared. “The sight before my eyes was terrifying”

The president of the Society for Nature Conservation has no objections to the removal of dead trees, but he believes that it is not always appropriate to assess whether a tree poses a threat. In his opinion, if the tree is old, rotten, hollow, but it does not grow next to the house, often frequented alley, it does not have to be a threat and should not be cut down. If such a tree grows in the middle of the park, it can be – according to Waszkiewicz – symbolically fenced off and a sign warns against walking nearby, especially during storms.

– Old trees are of great natural value, they are important for the ecosystem – stressed Waszkiewicz.

When asked about it, Mikolaszek assures that “not all old, aged or diseased trees are removed”. It turns out that trees that do not pose a threat are in fact separated with a fence and marked with a plate with the inscription “old tree”. There is no shortage of examples.

“A willow in a pond in Park Krakowski, a wig tree in Plac Axentowicza (a support was used), supports for trees are also installed in Park Krakowski and Park Decius, an oak in the Meadow of Martyrdom (a wide range of arboristic treatments, including specialist twisting of the trunk)” – he lists ZZM representative. He adds: “Trees in poor phytosanitary condition, which have to be removed in many places, still perform ecosystem functions by leaving their logs to decay naturally. In this case, dead wood is an important element in increasing urban biodiversity.”

Read also: Dozens of trees will be planted on Kraków’s Main Square. “It will no longer be a concrete pan”

Activists: trees are disappearing

Thousands of trees are removed due to road investments. – Several large parks would be created if we wanted to compensate for these cuttings – assessed the President of the Society for the Protection of Nature.

According to residents and activists, trees are disappearing. According to data from non-governmental organizations, in the years 2015-2021, about 50,000 people disappeared from Krakow. trees.

– Every year, on average, several thousand trees disappear from the city’s surface – said councilor Łukasz Maślona, ​​an activist from the Function City group. He emphasized that ZZM provides data only from its areas. Meanwhile, many trees are cut from private properties, where developers build blocks of flats and office buildings. – Only for the construction of the tram to Górka Narodowa, 3.5 thousand square meters have disappeared. trees. The creation of a tramway to Championjowice will also require reconstruction of the road system and significant tree felling. Hundreds of trees disappear from railway areas every year, under the pretext of endangering passengers. Polish Waters cut trees in connection with the reconstruction of the Vistula embankments, for example in Nowa Huta – the councilor enumerated.

Read also: They repotted a 10-year-old tree. Maple-leaved plane tree went to the sports hall

Katarzyna Pilitowska from the Rescue Action for Krakow group pointed out that some of the newly planted trees do not survive – e.g. because the groundwater level is lowering and ZZM does not water new trees.

Mikolaszek explained that the planted trees are taken care of by the contractor for at least a year. “Then they are tended by the contractors as part of the ongoing maintenance of the site. If the tree withers despite the contractor’s care, it is replaced under the guarantee at the contractor’s expense. 3-3.5 percent of the trees dry up despite the care. Sometimes these are reasons independent of watering, because we say here about a living organism and such cases cannot be eliminated to zero” – explained the official. She added that trees planted as compensation for felled specimens are inspected three years after planting.

“It is also worth mentioning that in many cases watering young trees is a procedure that causes the tree to become “lazy”, unable to adapt to the urban conditions in which it grows” – said Mikolaszek.

Some of the plants, as Pilitowska points out, are imported. – These are supposedly native trees, for example maples, willows, but they came from another country (…). It is hard to count that, for example, a Spanish tree planted in Suwałki will survive, noted the activist. As she noted, instead of large trees, trees with a circumference of 18-22 centimeters are planted. – It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Let’s focus on ensuring that these trees live for at least 10 years, they will grow two or four centimeters in circumference anyway, she concluded.

Main photo source: Artur Węgrzynowicz, tvnwarszawa.pl

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