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The oaks of Europe

Oaks beauty contest

The results of contest "Whose oak is better" were summarized in November. The unique competition has taken place recently in the city of Staraya Russa in Novgorod region. The initiators are region-famous clubs "Ecology" and "Bembi", within the SEU Forest program initiative "The Oaks of Russia". The fact is that an oak, a symbol of Russia, a sacred tree, can really become a rarity soon. In 20-the century the speed of oakery destruction is equal to those of tropical forests. According to official data, last 32 years the area of oakery of the European part of Russia has decreased 20 %.

The oaks are no less useful, than jungle dwellers. Oaks are carrying out water protecting function, are giving forage and roof to many animals, improving soil, etc. It s a well-known fact, that acorns are delicacy to wild boars, but bears also like it. They get on trees in August and chew unripe acorns, & even are said to be blotto.

There are also "oak" omens. An oak protects house from a fire, an oak planted near the house of a boozy man, is said to make him drink less. An oak is also a symbol of wisdom and longevity, about it is mentioned in many Russian fairy tales. We still can learn about these mighty trees not only from fairy tales, but also from the researches, which have been carried out during competition on a live material.

The contestants have carried out small oakery or parks researches; experts of the University named after ancient Russian Prince Yaroslav Mudrij created the questionnaire. This year schoolboys with their work Age-old oaks of Tuleblia won the right to name their oakery the Best (Tuleblia is the village near Staraya Russa). Schoolboys have described every sapling in the district. Their research, as well as other best works is available on the site

More than 30 people, mainly schools & university teachers, as well as Novgorod forest institute representatives have taken part in the meeting; together they have planted about 30 seedlings and more than 100 of acorns. Local population also took part in plantings, for they have a very tremulous attitude to their own boskets, so they helped the new ones to be born.

Local administration actively supports all ecological initiatives in the region. Elated by success, the organizers plan to distribute the competition outwards Novgorod region, they are themselves actively engaged to oakery restoration. For example, A. Avdeev, the member of "Ecology" club and expert of Novgorodmezhkhozles Association, has personally planted 300 kg of acorns this year.

The oakeries of Novgorod region are not only natural heritage of the territory, it s also its history, as well as the part of life of the ancient city. Oaks patriarchs connected to various memorable events of the past or the outstanding compatriots are bearing in mind (for example, the oak on the site of the house of famouse Russian writer Vitaly Bianki). However, many townspeople also have oaks of their own of 200-300 years old, which simply grow on a back yard . They take care of them no less, than about fruit trees.

The problem of oakeries restoration has become an occasion for cooperation, even for opponents. For the greater overall performance the initiators of an oak campaign in Novgorod plan to leave with the offer on acceptance of the regional program directed on oakery preservation and restoration. One of the encouraging moments is an interdiction of oak cuts in the region set on April, 1999 by directive of the Head of the administration.

Last year SEU has launched the Program Oaks of Russia; its efforts enable to adjust an exchange of experience between the initiatives, similar to this of Novgorod, and to spread and promote the idea of forests restoration, especially those of oakeries.

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