The Wild Poland Foundation gives an alarm about – as the inhabitants have calculated – over 130 trees growing by the district road in the Giby commune (Podlaskie Voivodeship), which have been marked with orange numbers. The head of the commune assures, however, that not all trees will be cut down, and that the County Office – which plans to carry out a road investment there – has not even applied for logging. The procedure for issuing an environmental decision is currently underway.
“More than 130 trees in the Suwałki Lake District have been designated for cutting. 5 years ago we managed to prevent them from being cut. We hope that we will be able to do it again” – announced on the Facebook profile of the Dzika Polska Foundation.
These are trees growing along the road in the Sejny district, which is to be rebuilt soon.
They counted that more than 130 trees are marked
– We became concerned when we noticed markings in the form of large orange numbers on the trees. We counted that there were over 130 of them and notified Wild Poland about the case – says Zofia Mackiewicz, who has been living in Kukle for almost three years and is on the board of the Przytulasy Association, which deals with nature education.
He adds that the condition of some trees may indicate that they should be cut down, but clearings are the last resort and – in any case – should not be of such a scale. – It would be a natural disaster – believes Mackiewicz.
Resident: all you need is a little bit of goodwill
She admits, however, that among the inhabitants with whom she talked about this matter, there are also those who have lived here “forever” and for whom the surrounding nature is not a priority.
– They focus on the development of infrastructure and the desire to get closer to modernity. It’s just that you have to remember about the next generations and climate change. Besides, I do not think it should be viewed on an “either / or” basis. In my opinion, you can both rebuild the road and save as many trees as possible. All you need is a little bit of goodwill – claims Mackiewicz.
She also emphasizes that, in her opinion, the authorities should consider whether the logging will encourage or discourage tourists from visiting the commune. – The more that many inhabitants live from tourism. There are many agritourism farms in our area. People come here to commune with nature, and not ride on the best possible way – the woman tells us.
Not only the investment aspect, but also the ecological and image aspect
Anna Miszkiel, who has been living in the village of Posejnele for seven years, echoes her. – You should know that the road is not used very often outside the tourist season. So I am not sure if such a large investment is needed. Perhaps it would be enough just to replace the surface – he wonders. She is also concerned about the markings on the trees.
– You do not want to believe that the road will be stripped this way. The authorities should take into account not only the investment aspect, but also the environmental and image aspect – he believes.
Staroste: giving any number is frivolous
Maciej Plesiewicz, the starost of Sejny, emphasizes that saying that more than 130 trees will be cut along the road is spreading disinformation.
– In general, giving any number is frivolous. We are at the stage of preparing project documentation. Only when this arises, we will be able to determine the species and number of trees that will have to be removed because they interfere with the planned reconstruction – he says.
He adds that today’s heavily cracked and undulating surface will be replaced by a new one, while the road will be 5.5 meters wide throughout the entire section.
– Currently, it is not as wide in all points. In addition, a pedestrian and bicycle route will also be built on the densely built, 1.1-kilometer section from the Gib to the bridge over the Marycha river in the village of Aleksiejówka, the staroste describes.
He ensures that he is for nature protection and the preservation of trees wherever possible. – It should also be remembered that the so-called replacement plantings are always carried out in road investments – he points out.
Staroste: trees in the road lane are marked, not trees to be felled
When we ask about the orange numbers that appeared on the trees, he says that the employees of the County Road Administration marked the trees in the road lane in this way, not the trees to be felled.
– Before any felling of trees related to the road reconstruction takes place, the poviat must obtain a decision from the head of the Giby commune authorizing the clearing. Of course, the issuance of the decision will be preceded by the submission of an application by the poviat, which we have not yet submitted – explains Plesiewicz.
He also notes that orange markings appeared on trees growing along the road from Giby to Berżałowce.
– This route is over four kilometers long. We, on the other hand, will be running the investment on the 3.6 kilometer section from Gib to the intersection with the municipal road leading to the town of Kukle. I suspect that the inhabitants counted the trees growing on those more than four kilometers. So they also took into account the area where the investment will not be carried out at present – explains the starost. And it specifies: – The section from the town of Kukle to the town of Berżałowce – and even a longer section, over eight kilometers long, to the town of Berżniki – is included in the development strategy of the Sejny County for the years 2021-2027. For now, it is difficult to say whether the application for logging, which we will submit to the commune administrator, will also include trees growing on a longer distance than the one from Gib to the town of Kukle.
Mackiewicz admits that the trees were actually counted on the more than four-kilometer stretch from Giby to Berżałowce.
– We had no information that the road will be currently rebuilt on this shorter section: from Gib to the town of Kukle. However, this does not change much, because sooner or later the entire route will be rebuilt, which will entail cuttings. I also do not understand why the trees were marked, since apparently not all of them will be cut down – admits the woman.
Head of the commune: trees only taken into account for felling
Robert Bagiński, the mayor of the Giby commune, explains that the markings were intended only to indicate which trees grow in the road lane and are taken into account for felling.
– According to my calculations, over 80 trees have been marked on the section where the investment will be carried out. Which of them will be cut out will be the subject of our analysis. For example, poplars grow there, which are already partially withered and which – in my opinion – should be cut down, because in the long run they will pose a threat to security. However, there are trees that can be preserved as much as possible – emphasizes the head of the commune.
He emphasizes that the inhabitants have been applying for the construction of the road for many years.
– According to my information, the vast majority of residents support the investment. Anyway, I will be organizing meetings in the near future. I will listen to all opinions – emphasizes Bagiński.
He adds that before issuing a decision on logging, he must issue an environmental decision, with a positive opinion from the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection.
– I will allow the Dzika Polska Foundation, which has asked us to do so. We have nothing to hide – assures the local government official.
Wild Poland: cutting is the last resort
Adam Bohdan from Dzika Polska offers the commune the foundation’s help in assessing which trees may actually pose a threat to safety, and which can be preserved.
– When it comes to the first category, cutting is a last resort. Instead, you can remove dead limbs, trim the crown or attach bindings – he believes.
He adds that if the head of the commune does not ask him for help beforehand, he will wait until he issues an environmental decision.
– If it turns out that the scope of felling is too large, we will check the condition of individual trees intended for felling on our own and we will refer, if necessary, – says our interlocutor.
He recalls that in 2016 the road authority wanted to cut 47 willows along the same road. – After the intervention of the Pracownia na Rzeczykich Istot Association, the mayor had to refuse, however, because protected lichen species were discovered on the trees – emphasizes Bohdan.
RDOŚ applied for supplementing the documentation
As for the current procedure aimed at issuing an environmental decision, it is currently being assessed by the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Białystok.
– We have sent a request to complete the documentation sent to us, indicating the exact number of trees that are planned for logging and determining their location. We also asked about the condition of the trees – informs Beata Bezubik, Regional Director of Environmental Protection in Białystok.
The decision on logging will be made by the head of the Giby commune
Main photo source: Aneta Stabińska