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Kielce. Digital tree map with slip because the city is running out of money. The residents are fed up with the cut

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The inhabitants of Kielce were to receive access to a digital map of city trees already this year. However, the inventory announced by officials has not yet come to fruition and may not start until next year.

At the beginning of 2021, the Kielce City Hall announced that a digital tree map would be created in the city. Since then, however, the topic has died down, and the list of trees is still not available. The creation of the system was demanded by the then councillor, and currently the vice-mayor of Kielce, Agata Wojda, who emphasized that thanks to such a solution, the inhabitants would have clear information, among others, about the planned fellings, which arouse controversy.

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

An example confirming the need to count and describe the trees in Kielce was the removal of chestnut trees at Bohaterów Warszawy Street in July. The fact that the developer – with the consent of officials – cuts down completely healthy trees there, the residents learned only when the saws went into motion. And the plenipotentiary of the president of the city for nature protection learned about the case … from the media.

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In turn, recently, the topic of plants cut down for the investment warmed up the residents of the area of ​​Karczówkowska Street, where initially about 100 trees were to be put under the ax. Due to the resistance of the inhabitants, it was possible to limit this scaleHowever, as one of the organizers of the protests, Agata Marjańska, tells us, “even more greenery could be saved if information on the number, location and condition of trees was publicly available”.

Residents’ protest against the planned logging at Karczówkowska Street in KielceFriendly Kielce Association

Not enough money to count trees

With a question about how the creation of the announced digital map of trees is progressing, we addressed the Kielce officials. The answer in the shortest version is: “it is planned”.

– Delays are related to the financial condition of the local government. Today we have to make difficult choices, in the first place to provide money for the most important tasks, for example for the maintenance of public transport – says Agata Wojda, Deputy Mayor of Kielce, in an interview with tvn24.pl. He emphasizes that the inventory of trees is important, but – for now – “it has to wait, because local governments lack the funds to fulfill statutory obligations.”

Read also: Small-leaved linden and sycamore maple. Las Bemowo Uroczysko was enriched with two thousand trees

The task may possibly be implemented next year. In the spring, an inventory of the city is planned – in the form of photogrammetric photos and airborne scanning – but so far it does not include greenery. – We are waiting for market estimates of how much it would cost us to count trees in the city – adds Wojda.

“Local governments got in the pocket”

Officials also admit that the scale of the announced project may be smaller than expected. When ordering a tree map, only the basic scope of location, crown dimensions and tree species could be considered, but their condition would be missing. – Everything has become more expensive, local governments have gotten their pockets, and money is not coming from anywhere – admits Anna Dwurnik, chief specialist in the “Smart City” office of the Kielce magistrate.

The official adds that according to last year’s estimates, an inventory of trees could cost between PLN 800,000 and a million. Now that amount is most likely higher.

“The environment is treated as an obstacle to be circumvented”

As emphasized in an interview with tvn24.pl Arkadiusz Stawicki, president of the Przyjazne Kielce association, the capital of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship is one of the few provincial cities in Poland that does not inventory trees.

Some cities even go a step further and collect data on all green areas under their control – for example, Rzeszów, which has allocated over four million zlotys for this purpose this year. A tender for counting and preliminary inspection of trees was announced this year by Szczecin. On the other hand, there is still no money for an urban map of trees, for example in Wrocław, where activists started to create their own map.

Read also: An almost 200-year-old pedunculate oak burnt down. The police are looking for the arsonist

– How to take care of greenery, when we don’t even know where, how many and what kind of trees we have in Kielce? asks Stawicki. – A frequent argument given by the city authorities when felling trees is that the trees are sick. And if someone had assessed their condition earlier, they would very often be salvageable – he emphasizes.

As an example, he gives trees cut down in 2019 at the Biruta spring, which – in his opinion – could be cured with a “preparation for several hundred zlotys”. In turn, when in 2021, in the city park, the hundred-year-old Bogumił willow, called the “willow of love”, was cut down in the city park, it turned out – says Stawicki – that its condition had not been examined for years. The tree after the storm was no longer suitable for saving.

Vice-president of the ecological association MOST, Łukasz Misiuna, points out that the inventory of trees is “necessary” for Kielce. – Currently, it is the case that someone buys land and then performs the entire procedure in terms of their investment. The environment is treated as an obstacle to be circumvented. And we want this way of thinking to be reversed. For the city to have a very detailed inventory of greenery, not just trees. So that the developer can look into it and assess whether it can make an investment in this place, and if so, under what conditions – Misiuna told tvn24.pl.

The president’s plenipotentiary: the problem is the short-sightedness of designers

The fact that the idea of ​​an inventory of urban trees is still in its infancy is evidenced by the fact that it has not yet been consulted with the plenipotentiary of the mayor of Kielce for nature protection, Dr. Bartosz Piwowarski. However, he admits that a digital tree map would bring many benefits to nature and residents. Developers would be less pleased. Municipal investments would also probably cost more.

– The real problem is the shortsightedness of decision makers and designers. This should be done in such a way that the investment project is overlaid on a map with trees marked on it. If there are collisions, the developer or designer should be obliged to preserve as much greenery as possible. Of course, not every tree can be saved if we want to develop the city – reserves Piwowarski.

According to the presidential plenipotentiary, the tender provisions for individual investments should include provisions on tree protection. – The inventory itself is only an auxiliary tool. The basis should be a change of thinking, especially in the construction environment. After all, designers come to the site of the planned construction, they see these trees. But it’s no obstacle for them, emphasizes Dr. Bartosz Piwowarski.

Counting trees with the help of schoolchildren and students

Kielce officials wanted to check whether the inventory could be arranged – at least partially – thanks to the involvement of residents. To this end, they announced a competition for schools called “We trace trees”. Primary school students, together with their teachers, were to find and map trees in their neighborhood.

– Tests have shown that such counting of the stand is not very accurate, and in the end you need a dendrologist who will come to the place and verify the notification from the residents. That’s why we treat it more like a form of education – Anna Dwurnik from the “Smart City” office told us.

Among the ideas of the office is also the use of the possibility of cooperation with Kielce universities. However, as Dwurnik admits, this is still a drop in the ocean of needs.

According to estimates, there are 700,000 trees in the entire city, excluding forests. Including forests, it is 1.7 million specimens.

Author:Bartholomew Plewnia

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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