Enthusiasts invited to look for protected trees

There could be a total of 20,000 protected trees (dižkoki - or 'great trees') in Latvia, but only a fifth are marked as such. Inspectors from the Nature Conservation Agency  routinely set off to measure the kings of the forest and say that locals' help in finding and marking these trees is very welcome, reported Latvian Radio Thursday.

Latvian Radio, together with Dainis Ozols, senior expert at the Nature Conservation Agency, went to measure the trunk of a linden tree in the Strazdumuiža park in Rīga to ascertain whether it classifies as a protected tree. It towers high, but doesn't seem well set-up as the lower branches have been broken and a huge hollow.

The tree turned out to have a circumference of 3.95 m - an average size for a great tree in Latvia where the greatest linden measures 8.05 meters.

Trees are protected depending on the girth of the tree at breast height (1.30 m). It only takes 15 minutes to measure a tree, and volunteers can send data to the agency in order to help identifying the greatest trees in Latvia. The inspectors would then go to measure the girth of the tree from the provided coordinates.

Ozols said that as of now only one in five great trees have been registered. "There could be about 20,000 protected trees in Latvia. There's a lot to do still. Locals should report the trees, especially in new construction sites, for example in the way of the Rail Baltica line. Perhaps there are several great trees there. If we have no information, no one will protect them," said Ozols.

Mostly it's oak trees and lindens, pines, elms and maples that are registered as great trees. There are a few fir trees and a few mountain ash trees in the list, and the latter is particularly misrepresented as people think that mountain ash trees cannot be included in the register.

You can find out what girth measurements make a tree eligible to be protected by law on this website

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