Another 18,875 trees have disappeared in 2012 from the sides of the second- and third-class roads. The reason given is usually a bad condition of the trees or the necessity to widen the road. From the statistics that Arnika requested from the regional road administrations is visible that less than 11,000 new trees have been planted. Most trees have been cut down in the south of Bohemia, precisely 3,666. On the contrary, the highest number of newly planted trees, that is 4,650, was in Central Bohemian Region. According to the NGO the biggest problem is the lack of long-term care of the trees for which the road-builders don't have enough money. Experts have appealed to the road administration management to invest the money they saved thanks to the mild winter in professional tree care.
In total more than 150,000 trees fell to the ground between the years 2003 and 2012. These trees could line both sides of a road from Prague to Barcelona. The important information is however the long-term rate of cut down and planted trees. The best rates appear in Moravian-Silesian and Central Bohemia Region as there were more trees planted than cut down. On the other hand, it isn't clear if the trees have been planted along the roads again or in different places. Moreover, some of the regions didn't provide complete data.
"The winter this year had been mild and therefore the road administrators must have something left in the maintenance fund. The best way of using this would be investing it in professional treatment of trees around the roads or in planting high-quality woody plants. Unfortunately, the long-term trend shows that trees around the roads disappear, since less trees are planted than are cut down. Which is a pity, for both the nature and the drivers. Well-tended trees are not just full of life but actually help drivers with orientation when the visibility conditions worsen and also prevent the formation of snowdrifts," says RNDr. Marcela Klemensová, leader of the campaign Save the trees at Arnika about the results of the statistics and adds that avenues are a typical feature of Czech and Central European landscape and have many other important functions.
What trends can we see in the overview?
Most trees have been cut down in the Central Bohemian Region. At the same time, the Central Bohemian Region is, together with the Moravian-Silesian Region, a region in which more trees were planted than cut down.
The least number of trees were planted in the Hradec Králové Region where more than 5,000 trees were cut down while only 300 were planted, and the Liberec Region with more than 2,000 cut down trees and only 52 planted according to the available data.
The biggest disproportion between cut down and planted trees appears to be in the Liberec Region. Roughly forty times more trees were cut down than planted. In this region the avenues are disappearing the fastest. The pace at which avenues disappear is alarming in the Hradec Králové, Karlovy Vary and Plzeň Regions.
The least willing to provide information about cutting down and planting the trees have been noted in the Hradec Králové and Liberec Region as they hadn't provided some data at all.
"For decades, since the communist regime arose, the avenues hadn't been received any care. We've been witnessing for the last two decades that instead of the necessary care, neglected but beautiful trees are cut down around the roads, despite the fact that Arnika offered a concept design how to take care of the avenues and how to make them safer. The avenues in the nature as well as around the roads have benefits for both the nature and for people including drivers. Above all, the trees need care and it is necessary to protect, renew and develop a conceptual approach which has only been successful in a few regions so far, " says Arnika's spokesman Vratislav Vozník.
As a positive example we can mention the road-workers from Vysočina. After Arnika painted several avenues with safety stripes they took over the imaginary baton and started painting the trees themselves. Based on negotiations with Arnika, the road administration submitted several successful applications for EU grants which helped them treat a number of historical avenues professionally. It seems that in other regions the situations is starting to turn for the better and the road administrators are starting to implement procedures and look for funds to plant avenues. This however appears in the statistics with a slight delay.
Another way to protect trees around the roads as well as the road users is mainly professional and regular tree care, lowering the speed limit in the avenues or implementing a new warning sign "Attention, you're passing through an avenues", similar to the one they use in Germany. The proposals of environmentally friendly measures can be downloaded from Arnika's website as well as the concept of avenues in the Czech landscape that was sent to all relevant ministries and regions.
Arnika has been protecting avenues for several years now. Arnika initiated the creation of the petition "Save the Trees " demanding better protection of avenues and trees in the countryside and in the cities by the law. The petition was supported by more than 30,000 people. Thanks to them, an amendment had been pushed through, cancelling an exemption that allowed the road-workers to cut down trees along the roads without permission. Arnika has also created the first national statistics and pointed out that during the last few years more than 150,000 trees disappeared from the roads in the Czech Republic.