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Novgorod region: plant your own oak grove

On April 30th 2002, the students of the pedagogical college from Velikiy Novgorod together with their teacher Marina Mitchik planted oaks on the banks of the river Veryazska, in the Novgorod region (North-West of Russia).

The Novgorod region is one of the most northern locales in Russia. Some centuries ago oak forests grew everywhere in the north-west areas. There are numerous aboriginal "oakish" names on the map of the region such as Dubrovka, Dubky, Dubtsy, Poddubiye ("oak" sounds like "dub" in Russian), this confirms that oaks could have been present in these areas.

Now, only a small fragment of the big, age-old Oaks remain in the suburbs of Novgorod. Most of the oaks reamin because they were saved in villages, preserved and honored by the rural dwellers.

According to legend, a long time ago, variags (Normen) had floated there, on the Veryazska river, and so it has received its name. Maybe variags have seen mighty oaks growing on its bank.

But now the river flows straight inside the city, its banks are deprived of trees, therefore in the spring, when the snow melts, the banks of the river are eroded by fast flowig water. The purpose of oak planting is not only to increase the number of trees, but also to improve the river and to strengthen its banks.

The students who took part in the action have planted several hundreds of oak saplings on the banks of Veryazska river.

* * *

On May 6-7th, the oak planting campaign has continued in Okluovsky area of the Novgorod region. Several thousands of young oak trees were planted on places of clear-cuts in agricultural woods. The young trees were grown by "Novgorodselkhozles" association.

Also in a local agricultural timber enterprise, of the Okulovsky area, mini-nursery of oaks will be built. In a neighbour area of the Novgorod region - Borovichi - a new method was invented to grow oak sprouts. This method means it is no longer necessary to keep acorns during the winter, which would prevent losses to mice, who eat acorns that are planted in autumn. Now, from late autumn till spring, young oaks grow together with roses in the hothouse and when it is warm, the oaks will be planted into the open soil.

Young oaks planted into the soil are threatened with many dangers. One of the greatest dangers are spring fires (which for the most part start because of human activity). In the spring many people set fire to dry grass. Many agronomists instead of mowing down a grass, simply burn it. But the fire falls outside the fields, burning huge spaces, affecting insects, frogs and birds' nests. The adult trees which have appeared on the path of fire get burnt which can cause them to die. Passing through the region, it is possible to see residuals of oak groves that have been destroyed by fire. Small oak sprouts especially has no chance to survive in fire, which is a problem for regeneration of the Oak forests, so human participation is needed to aid their regeneration.

Now more and more people join to plant trees. There is hope, that those who get involved in planting will help to prevent fires where they have been planting trees.

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