Thursday, 18 February 2010

Sixteenth Sitting of the Environmental Protection Committee

At the sitting held on 18 February, the members of the Environmental Protection Committee discussed issues relating to the cutting of plane trees in King Aleksandar Boulevard in Belgrade.



At the sitting held on 18 February, the members of the Environmental Protection Committee discussed issues relating to the cutting of plane trees in King Aleksandar Boulevard in Belgrade.

The sitting, chaired by Cedomir Jovanovic, Committee Chairman, was attended by Ivica Radovic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and associates, Radovan Draskic, Director of JKP Zelenilo Beograd, Marko Blagojevic, Director of the city Investment Agency, professors of the Belgrade Faculties of Forestry, Civil Engineering and Biology, representatives of the Academy of Architecture of Serbia, Director of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, representative of the Serbian Institute of Health Protection, as well as representatives of the Save the Belgrade Plane Trees civic association.

Opening the debate on the only item on the agenda, Committee Chairman Cedomir Jovanovic pointed out that the problem of reconstruction of King Aleksandar Boulevard has been inherited, adding that the town-planning project to solve the problem has been compromised. He stated that the duty of the representatives of competent authorities was to explain the discrepancies in the justification for the cutting of the avenue of trees, whether the reason was the bad shape the trees were in or the reconstruction of Belgrade, whether the trees were being cut for both reasons and if it were possible to save part of the avenue. He reiterated that the process lacked clear procedures, that the public has been excluded from the process, that the decisions already made were not irrevocable and that future actions on the city level can be implemented differently.

In the discussion, which included all the representatives of state authorities, non-governmental sector and expert public present, it was stated that that condition of Belgrade avenues of trees in the central zones was dire. The cause was the radical pruning of the trees carried out in the 1990s, as well as the bad state of the trees that have never been pruned. In order to address the problem, two studies were made on the condition of the avenues in Belgrade, in 2006 and 2008, which showed that the functionality of the avenue on the Boulevard was 10 years and that it should be replaced. Both studies confirmed that the trees were in bad heath and experts suggested a successive replacement of the avenues. The 2008 study that dealt solely with the avenue on the Boulevard, included an inspection of 687 trees from the ground and the air, which uncovered extensive rot in the avenue caused by radical pruning. The proposed measure was to prune the branches in order to stave the rot and successively replace trees throughout the avenue. The reconstruction work on the Boulevard provided the opportunity to replace the trees that had to be replaced anyway, it was said in the debate. The reconstruction of the Boulevard includes work on the road, sidewalk, heating system, waterworks and sewer, power grid and other communication networks, as well as tram tracks. The whole project is worth 1.8 billion RSD secured by the budget of the City of Belgrade and European Investment Bank loan. The discussion also gave voice to some examples of good practice implemented by EU countries, as well as an appeal to those in charge to stop cutting the plane trees, to examine all relevant facts regarding the cutting, adding that the felled trees should be replaced by the same species. It was also estimated that by debating the issue the Committee was contributing to make sure that such a situation did not repeat anywhere in Serbia ever again.

Summing up the results of the long debate, the Committee Chairman concluded to request an urgent meeting with the Mayor of Belgrade and the expert services that worked on the Boulevard reconstruction project, to be allowed insight into all available documentation, to halt the cutting of the plane trees on the Boulevard until the meeting between the Committee members and the Mayor and that all available information regarding the reconstruction and studies on the condition of the avenue be made public.


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friday, 22 november
  • 14.00 - public hearing on “Education in national minority languages”, organized by the Committee on Education, Science, Technological Development and the Information Society (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 2)

  • 14.00 - the National Assembly Speaker meets with the President of North Macedonia (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 1)

  • - photo exhibition on the World Children’s Day and the 50th anniversary of “The Joy of Europe” (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, Central Hall)

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