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      Szczecin’s trees under close investigation

      Marta Kufel

      Marta Kufel

      Szczecin’s trees under close investigation

      At Szczecin parks, you can now encounter the employees of the contractor assigned by the City to carry out a tree survey. The resulting database will help the City take better care of its greenery.

      The survey is currently at its first stage. It covers the so-called “District 1”, including all landscaped grounds: green squares, parks and greens managed by the Municipal Services Company, including  Stefan Żeromski Park, General Władysław Anders Park, Jasne Błonia Commons, Chrobry Embankments, Nadratowski Park and a range of other greens and green squares within the city centre, with a total area of more than 41 ha. According to the maps drawn up by the Municipal Centre of Geodesy and Cartography, there are 2,792 trees in the surveyed areas. What is, however, their actual number? The survey is expected to answer this and more.

      What does it look like in practice? A team of experts with specialist equipment walk through designated parks and greens. Their first task is to pinpoint the location of each tree using a geolocation device that takes measurements in real time with the accuracy of several to a dozen-odd centimetres. The results are recorded in a dedicated application.

      Next, each tree is assigned its unique identification number. The number is put on a small plaque pinned to the trunk at a height of about 2.5 m.

      The next step involves gathering basic information about each specimen, such as the species, trunk circumference, height, growth stage and location. “Contrary to what it may seem, the environment in which a tree grows is important. It is important to know whether it is surrounded by unpaved surfaces, allowing its root ball to grow freely, or by pavement slabs, regularly trodden alleys or underground services,” explains Robert Rychlicki from the Warsaw-based TAXUS UL company that is carrying out the survey. With this knowledge, we can anticipate possible future dangers and prevent them through suitable measures.

      The survey does not end with this, however. What follows are more detailed descriptions of the trees, including especially their health and possible safety concerns. And this is the task of dendrologists. “We carefully inspect each specimen, from its roots, to the trunk and bark, to its crown. We investigate them for tree-decaying fungi, dry branches, mechanical damages, signs of disease or weakening, or the presence of protected animal species,” explains Paweł Rychlicki. “Based on this, we can determine the required tree maintenance and treatments to improve the condition of the tree. As nature lovers, we like to share the details of our work with Szczecin’s residents who visit the city’s parks. We explain to them that our work is not about tree felling but, on the contrary, about making sure the trees get the extra care they need. Even if some treatments are required, such as pruning or removal of dry branches, it is all done for the well-being of the tree, the safety of park visitors and for the future generations.

      Marta Safader-Domańska, Szczecin’s Head Landscaper, confirms this. “A tree survey is the first stage of developing a comprehensive tree-care system to improve the condition of young and old specimens, as well as to afford the required care to young trees that will become the green showcase of Szczecin in a couple of years. These measures also aim to make the areas around trees more safe. This is particularly important given the increasingly common extreme weather phenomena.

      The trees that are in the poorest condition will be subject to comprehensive monitoring and additional specialised tree examinations. All the gathered data about the tree, including its number, location and photograph, are recorded in the GREENSPACES application. The app has been designed to compile a database of Szczecin's green spaces. The survey will be carried out until late September.

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