The construction boom of recent years has proved to be a serious threat to trees in many Czech towns and cities. Trees which have been part of the landscape for decades and sometimes for over a century are disappearing overnight. The NGO Arnika has now decided to help the public to put up a fight for them - by launching a nation wide Save the Trees campaign. Martin Skalsky of Arnika explains what it is all about:
"We note many cases every year when trees are cut down without permission or with some permit which is in violation of the law and we want to advise people what to do in such cases - to whom they can address letters of complaint, whom to turn to, how to ensure that those who fell trees without permission are punished."
Many of these decisions are made by individual town halls isn't that so?
Why do you think that they make the wrong decision from time to time -or more frequently, as you say?
"There are many reasons. There is strong pressure from developers who want space to build housing estates or supermarkets, highways and so on. Also, some state officials are too lazy to consider other possible solutions and to develop the respective projects so as to be able to save the trees. As they see it, it is easier to cut down everything, build something new and then plant some new trees. But it is not that simple. There is more air pollution in the larger cities now and you never know how the newly planted trees will grow. We have fifty or seventy year old trees in our cities now but we cannot know if the new trees will live that long so it is not a good idea to fell them. It is necessary to think about ways of saving them. Sometimes there are other problems. The people who are issuing felling permits may be connected with the construction companies or the companies felling the trees. You can sell the wood at a good price. It is quite a good business to fell trees in a city - you have roads -you can move the wood easily and get a good price for it. So... there are many reasons."