Illegal tree cutting outrages locals of Raunas Street, Rīga

In Rīga, on Raunas Street, a shocking scene has unfolded before the eyes of residents – although the municipality's regulations say that no more than 20% of a tree's crown can be cut, only the trunks of 12 beautiful linden trees remain. The City Council has turned to the municipal police, Latvian Television's 4. studija reports on March 14.

At 64 Raunas Street, Rīga, the noise of sawing has disturbed residents for at least three days. Afterwards, it turned out that the contractors had overachieved. The Rīga City Council (RD) had issued a permit for the removal of dangerous trees, but as a result, healthy trees have been cut.

The Raunas Street section will not smell of linden blossom this summer either, as the linden tree crowns have been cut down completely, leaving only the tree trunks.

Residents told 4. studija that the trees have been brutally cut down and there is no hope that they will recover.

The private kindergarten "Mans lācis" is located next to the felled trees. The premises of the preschool are rented and these people had nothing to do with the felling that took place in the area. They added, however, that the poplars growing there were very fragile and dangerous for the children.

The Riga City Council confirmed that the poplars, which were decayed and dangerous, had indeed been cut down by the applicants for the tree felling permit, Ģertrūdes īpašumi Ltd. Eight poplars, two dead birch trees, and one linden tree were allowed to be removed.

However, as Tatjana Smirnova, Project Coordinator of the External Communication Department of the Riga City Council, informed, during the inspection of the situation in nature it turned out that, in addition to the trees for which the permits were issued, the tops of 12 more linden trees, as well as a hawthorn tree of local importance, were cut without approval.

The Riga City Council's binding regulations prohibit the reduction of tree canopies by more than 20% during tree clearance works.

"In this situation, it has been established that the tree canopy has been cut by about 99%. The work has been carried out in poor quality, without respecting nature protection requirements. Consequently, this constitutes a violation of the Forest Law and therefore a complaint has been submitted to the municipal police," Smirnova said.

4. studija contacted the contractor who personally sawed the trees by telephone. He admitted that whoever pays the price "plays the music", so to speak. The interests of wildlife and work ethics proved to be a foreign concept here.

"Everything is always done as the owners, the customers want. They have taken it upon themselves. I totally agree, it's all wrong; that's not the way to cut. It was probably done for that purpose, to eliminate them [the trees]," said the woodcutter.

Meanwhile, the owner of the land plot told the program that "it is a pity that it has come to this". He himself was not aware of such arbitrariness on the property and is now cooperating willingly with the Riga municipal police.

"We have a tenant who made a parking lot there. The tenant took an arborist and did tree care, growing tree care, in his own understanding. So the scandal about the linden trees is that they think they tidied up the canopy," explained Jānis Plotnieks, a representative of Ģertrūdes īpašumi.

Legal persons can be fined up to 280 monetary units for the arbitrary felling or mutilation of trees, which amounts to €1,400 per tree. 

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