New forest land being planted in Prague

The city currently has about 10 percent of it areas covered by woods

While here is a noticeable uptick in office and apartment development, Prague is not in danger of being completely paved over. Areas of the city are being converted to forest land and one of the largest post-Velvet Revolution urban forestry projects is starting.

Běchovice in the east edge of the city in Prague 21 is one place that is creating a new area of forest, and the neighborhoods of Hodkovičky in Prague 4 and Chuckle in Prague 5 are also planting thousands of trees. This spring, some 133,000 trees should be planted in the city.

Běchovice already has forested areas, but a field between existing areas will now be added. A new stand of 23,000 seedlings will be planted on 2.7 hectares between and Běchovice and Koloděje. Most of the trees will be sessile oak. This is just the first phase. When completed, the full area will have 19 hectares and 190,000 seedlings and will be called V Panenkách. It will be the second-largest reforestation project in the city since 1989.

The forest last year was also increased between Dubeč and Běchovice with 53,000 saplings of mostly oak, along with linden and beech trees. This new forested area is called Robotka.

While people like fruit trees and decorative varieties, the municipal forestry administration Lesy hlavního města Prahy (LHMP) tries to start with the natural composition of trees in the area. Of the 133,000 trees to be planted this spring by LHMP, over 45,000 are oak and under 40,000 are beech. Other species that are planted include linden, maple, elm, hornbeam and the occasional cherry tree. Evergreens included Scots pine and silver fir.

Maintaining the forested urban areas requires pruning and felling of trees. Diverse species and ages are also needed for a healthy forest. Each city district is responsible for its own wooded areas, and several projects to maintain forest are ongoing.

Urban trees not only provide recreation areas and clean the air, they also lower the temperature. One large beech tree can provide enough oxygen for three adults. Prague has about 5,000 hectares of forest land, of which 2,900 is owned by the city. Prague in total covers 49,613 hectares, so forested land is about 10 percent of the city's area.

The most significant Prague forests are Kunratický les and Klánovický les, Obora Hvězda, Prokopské údolí, Divoká Šárka and Hosivařský lesopark.

Some forest areas, however, have been too successful. Wild boars have begun to become common in some forests in the east of the city and the boars have been reported to have attacked dogs who have been let off the leash in the woods. The city has been working with game keeping groups to control the situation in some areas to reduce boar numbers.

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