No one needs to be convinced of the important function of trees. The action of planting trees and shrubs on April 9 showed that the residents of our region have a particularly strong interest in protecting the environment in their immediate vicinity.
Despite the rainy weather, they turned out in large numbers for the event organized by the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Wieliczka District and the Aeris Futuro Foundation. Nearly 100 people planted a total of 1,000 trees and shrubs in the Wieliczka and Barycz areas.
Why do we need trees?
Forests cover more than 30% of the Earth’s landmass, and as many as 13 000 000 hectares are lost every year. Progressive land degradation has led to the desertification of areas covering 3.6 billion hectares. Although 15% of areas are protected, biodiversity is still under threat. Preventing deforestation and desertification, as a result of human activities, is now one of the most important challenges of the modern world.
Trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen back into the air through photosynthesis. They produce oxygen, improve air quality, and mitigate the effects of climate change. Up to several thousand trees can be planted on a single hectare, which can greatly enrich the ecosystem.
The effects of the changes are so far-reaching that the sustainable management of forests, protection of ecosystems and combating the loss of biodiversity are included in one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (so-called SDGs) adopted for implementation by UN member states.
Why did we conduct a planting campaign in Wieliczka?
As soon as the event was announced, numerous inquiries for participation from Wieliczka residents, Krakovians, and mine employees began immediately. They appeared at the event eagerly, as a family, despite the less than ideal weather. “When organizing this action, we were not only concerned with planting trees together to enrich the mine’s green areas with nature. We want to set a good example, encourage people to take care of the environment in the region, but also show that with small steps we can do great things, and together contribute to changing the climate for the better” – sums up Paweł Nowak, President of the Management Board of the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Forests are home to more than 80% of all animal, plant and insect species living on land. Their disappearance also means the extinction of species and a threat to the stability of entire ecosystems.
“Thanks to this action, the region gained a thousand additional trees and shrubs. Its area was enriched with, among others, oaks, beeches, poplars, alders, birches, maples, ash trees, rowan trees, but also old varieties of apple, cherry and cherry trees – a total of 14 species. We planted them together with local residents not only next to Boża Wola and Kościuszko shafts, but especially in Barycz, which is particularly important for “protecting” Wieliczka from the border with Krakow” – assures Damian Konieczny, Executive Director of the Wieliczka Salt Mine S.A.
Biodiversity is important
The event was attended by more than 100 people. We asked the participants what prompted them to come to the action:
“We live in Strumiany, and I wanted to set a good example for my children that while having a nice Saturday you can do something good for the environment” – Mr. Piotr reveals to us.
“Our kids are children of the mud, so without a moment’s hesitation despite the rain we decided to come. The younger child had to stay at home, but Filip is here with us, and we plan to plant dozens of trees” – says the young couple, parents of the youngest participant in the campaign.
“I wanted to take my brother here, but he got sick, he couldn’t help me with the trees” – the 10-year-old lamented. “But my mom is here with me, together we can manage!“ – he cheers up immediately afterwards.
“We live in Krakow, not far from a landfill – the more trees in the area, the cleaner the air, I just wanted to have a part in this activity” – assures an elderly man from the Barycz area.
“I really like planting trees, at my home I already have a hectare of forest. I took part in this action to set an example for others, to act for the environment” – said one of the dozen or so mine employees participating in this action.
There was no shortage of Wieliczka firefighters, either. “We usually work in tougher conditions, in this case the only adversity was the weather – the rest sheer pleasure. Planting trees among greenery and singing birds, in the company of the region’s residents was a pleasant experience” – Wieliczka OSP President Tomasz Broniowski is pleased. – “We help not only people, but also the environment. We thank the mine and the district for the invitation“ – he adds.
The species of trees planted by participants in the campaign were carefully selected byw Aeris Futuro Foundation experts. By planting native species of trees and shrubs, we are influencing the greater biodiversity of the region in the most desirable way. Pollinators, birds and the entire ecosystem benefit. If trees appear in an area, its retention, or ability to hold water, increases.
“In the case of the areas near the Kościuszko shaft and in Barycz, where the lower parts of the plots are waterlogged, the trees planted above them will stop faster water runoff, creating better living conditions for amphibians, among others” – explains Bartłomiej Oleszko, a sozologist at the foundation, who selected the trees and shrubs for biodiversity, among other things.
“Every human activity affects the environment, as we are part of it, but we can try to compensate for the harmful effects and CO2 emissions through biodiverse reforestation and afforestation, as in this action. Of course, it is important to remember that it is not possible to compensate for everything. In order to have a chance to stop climate change, it is necessary to change our habits, which are shaped by the oversupply of products and services, but at the same time shape the appearance of the economy. There is a feedback loop here that seems impossible to break, but if it doesn’t happen, the coming centuries and the Earth’s climate will be really difficult.”. Marek Piątkowski, President of the Aeris Futuro Foundation, explains.
“We have calculated that the trees and shrubs planted during this action can offset up to 75 tons of CO2, but on a scale of 100 years. This is, of course, a valuable contribution to environmental and climate protection, but we need to be much more active” – he adds.
The tree seedlings were financed by Wieliczka County under the LIFE Integrated Project titled “Implementation of the Regional Action Plan for Climate and Energy for the Małopolska Voivodeship” LIFE-IP EKOMAŁOPOLSKA/LIFE19 IPC/PL/000005 to implement the educational and informational campaign “#drzewodlaklimatu” (meaning: “#treeforclimate”), which is part of the 1st Małopolska Day for Climate action. “Residents of Wieliczka County proved with their presence and involvement that they are not indifferent to climate change. This action showed that together we can do a lot of good for our environment. I hope that this event will initiate more good practices among us” – says Jolanta Wiśniewska, Climate and Environment Advisor for the Wieliczka county.
Plant trees for the good of the climate
Akcja CSR zorganizowana została w ramach współpracy międzysektorowej. Powiat Wielicki zapewnił sadzonki drzew i krzewów – w ramach programu LIFE EKOMAŁOPOLSKA „Wdrażanie Regionalnego Planu Działań dla Klimatu i Energii dla województwa małopolskiego” (musimy dać całość, bo są też inne projekty LIFE ekomałopolska).
The partner was our foundation, which since 2005 has been promoting the idea of planting trees as part of the “Time for Forest” program to offset CO2 emissions. Together with companies, institutions and schools, we have already planted 168 000 000. The mine undertook to organize the campaign, providing green areas where trees and shrubs were planted.