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Warsaw. They are building a tram to Wilanów. A hundred-year-old tree at Sobieskiego Street cut down

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The leaning tree was 114 years old. “For so many years, it produced oxygen, protected against pollution and noise, was a shelter for so many generations of birds. It was also simply beautiful. It survived two wars, the Warsaw Uprising” – residents write about the acacia tree that grew at Sobieskiego Street. It was cut out in connection with the construction of a tram line to Wilanów.

Over 400 trees will be cut down in connection with the construction of a tram to Wilanów. It is understandable that the fate of those that grew in the place where the tracks will run was sealed. It is more difficult to reconcile with situations when trees located at a considerable distance from the future tracks are “under the axe”. And that was the case with the one that grew on Sobieskiego Street, at number 99, next to the footbridge.

Its end was described by a resident of Dolny Mokotów, quoted on the Facebook profile Do not rob us of trees – cutting of greenery regarding the Tram to Wilanów: “I woke up this morning and such a deafening silence, birds always sang early in the morning, then the crows croaked a bit, and now nothing, only cars and a saw again somewhere. My locust was 114 years old, so it had been growing since 1909, and there were always a lot of birds on it, and they have already started nesting this year.”

READ: They counted how much trees in Warsaw “earn”. One, even PLN 1,200 per year.

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“It survived two wars, the Warsaw Uprising. It was also simply beautiful”Don’t rob us of trees – cutting greenery regarding the Tram to Wilanów

“It survived two wars, the Warsaw Uprising”

And this is how the authors of the profile referred to the matter: “Can you imagine that it has been growing there for 114 years. We repeat: for 114 years! For so many years it produced oxygen, protected against pollution and noise and was a shelter for so many generations of birds. It was also just beautiful. It survived two wars, the Warsaw Uprising, no one thought to cut it down for so many years – there was no such important reason that it would have to shorten the life of this tree. It survived during the construction of a wide street. Until the year 2023 came and such a reason has been found.”

At the end they bitterly concluded: “Probably, when designing, it was possible to take into account the 114-year-old and move this and that a bit – but Ladies and Gentlemen – we are not introducing civilization and modernity to protect old trees. We are modern barbarians. It took us 45 minutes to annihilate this tree 114 years in 45 minutes! The next day we forgot about him. We still have so much to cut out.”

Impressive age is not an invention. These data are from the official investment documentation of Tramwaje Warszawskie. The age was estimated by the dendrological team working on behalf of the tram drivers.

The tree collided with the street

We ask the spokesperson of the Warsaw Trams about “moving this and that”, i.e. about the possibility of saving the tree.

– There will be a road here. And it will be moved due to the construction of the track and the entry of buses to the common tram and bus lane. Shame on this action. However, there was no other way to route the road here – argues Maciej Dutkiewicz. He adds that there will be new plantings. – I also checked the green designer’s proposal. In the immediate vicinity, he has planned over 20 new trees – he adds.

In total, as part of the construction of the entire tram route, at least 640 new trees of various species with a trunk circumference of at least 25 centimeters and a height of five meters are to be planted. In addition, the contractor – Budimex – prepared 400 seedlings for planting on private land belonging to housing communities and cooperatives.

This is how this episode of Sobieski will look likeWarsaw Trams

A map showing a collision between a tree and a roadWarsaw Trams

Why didn’t they overdo it?

But we’re digging into this particular 114-year-old. Why has the acacia not been replanted? It’s not space technology.

– The number of trees qualified for replanting is increasing. Of course, with the construction of the tram to Wilanów, we exaggerate them. Last year, after the start of the works, we qualified 16 of them, now this number has increased to 55. The examination of trees is carried out by a qualified greenery inspector who assesses the health condition, age and safety of operations. Together with the Mokotów and Wilanów districts, we are looking for places where trees can be replanted – says the spokesman for Tramwaje Warszawskie.

And it explains why it’s not always possible. – There is one problem with this operation. It often turns out that a tree cannot be replanted because it has tangled roots with underground installations or it grows in such a place that an attempt to dig it up could result in damage to the underground infrastructure. And they often grow in just such places. They were planted in the 1960s and 1970s, when less attention was paid to the order in the documentation. – he argues.

And the scale of works to be carried out underground is illustrated by numbers: – We have a lot of underground infrastructure to rebuild – almost 400 kilometers of underground cables – for lighting, supplying trams and optical fibres. In addition, over 30 kilometers of pipes – water supply, heating, sewage pipes, gas pipes.

SEE: Warsaw’s grand plans: five metro lines, new tram routes.

Project from the “peace of offices”

Justyna Glusman, who was the coordinator for sustainable development and greenery at the town hall for three years, believes that the scale of felling could have been smaller if the project had not been created “in the privacy of offices, without consulting the Greenery Management”. He also draws attention to the mode of work, which dragged on for years, and suddenly got accelerated because there was a threat of losing EU funding. He also sees deeper problems in the approach to investment. – This project is oversized, like many others implemented in Warsaw. Unfortunately, ecological awareness among officials is still insufficient, but it has increased among the inhabitants. And at the lower level there is time pressure, officials have too many duties and too little money, which is also due to the government’s policy towards local governments and lowering their own income. Such a low organizational culture, combined with limited budgets, often preclude tree protection, notes Glusman.

He also throws a pebble into the garden of architects. – There is a clear problem with designers who do not look for solutions that reconcile infrastructure with greenery. There are situations that they do not even know the area they are designing well. The problem was supposed to be solved by the “Tree protection standard in investment processes”, but it came into force with a delay of almost two years and in a truncated form – he sums up.

They are building a tram line, they have cut down a treeMateusz Szmelter/tvnwarszawa.pl

The old acacia lost to the investmentMateusz Szmelter/tvnwarszawa.pl

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter/tvnwarszawa.pl

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