The Skadar Pedunculate Oak has long stalks on its acorns © Montenegrin Ecologists Society

The saying “Mighty oaks grow from tiny acorns” is often used in reference to the ambition of Henry Ford, whose automaker empire began with hundreds of factories and hundreds of thousands of employees from a single humble beginning. With great irony, young ecologists from the Balkans in their endeavor to save an endangered subspecies of the oak were inspired by the same sentence: They have not only collected over 20,000 acorns and want to plant them in forests, but also successfully for the Protection of a single monumental tree was used – which resulted in a new road being diverted.

In Montenegro, Skadar oaks grew Quercus robur ssp scutariensis are single individuals or small remnants of what were once huge ancient oak forests that were an integral part of the floodplain zones of Lake Skadar and the surrounding river systems. These endemic oak forests also became some of the earliest human settlements as oak was a great source of warmth and building material. Then came agriculture and urbanization and the rest is history.

A culturally important Skadar English oak © MES

Today the remaining oaks are which can be easily recognized by the long 3 cm stems of their acorns have a monumental value – both ecologically, e.g. B. as home to hundreds of species, as well as culturally, as places where family and friends can gather and tell old stories, or for healing properties of their bark. And if you were forced to reduce such an amazing being to its monetary value, studies show that one of these oaks in your garden accumulates 1.7 tons of CO2 per year, binds 1.36 kg of air polluting particles and saves 1.460 kWh of energy.

Give early botany experts by Crnogorsko Društvo Ekologa, the Montenegrin Ecologists Society (MES), who recognized the uncertain future of this tree and received the inventory and restoration from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund *. As part of a new generation of plant conservationists in the area, they have managed to collect an incredible 20,000 acorns this season, which they estimate will be enough to produce at least 10,000 seedlings. Thanks to the great dedication to local landowners and volunteers, MES found many notable individuals as well as important forest areas in four important areas of biodiversity: Skadar Lake, Buljaric, Delta Bojana and Zeta River (where the tree is a symbol of the recently declared Zeta) River nature park).

One consequence was the discovery This old oak was to be felled for a new road construction. MES acted quickly, drew the local media’s attention and saved the tree. Pedunculate oaks in the region have long been a respected symbol of strength, power, longevity, and spiritual and material wealth. Now, when cars drive by, this tree stands as a lonely, courageous symbol against many external pressures on the environment of Montenegro. No acorns were produced that year, but acorns were collected just a few miles away from specimens, indicating that the area was once a contiguous forest community.

MES will start planting next year – Strengthening of existing forests, planting in schoolyards, restoring private land where old forests once existed, and high hopes of planting agricultural land as well. Locals exposed to MES awareness work are already interested in planting oak trees in their gardens. So when you start saving a species, keep in mind that with the right ambition, an oak tree can be enough to plant over 100 acres of forest – and divert a road. One wonders what Henry Ford would have thought about it …

The Skadar English oak that was saved from road construction © MES

Local landowner collecting acorns © MES

© MESA day care center with a lot of potential © MES

* The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Japanese government and the World Bank. Additional small grants for the Balkans sub-region were made available by the MAVA Foundation. A fundamental goal is to ensure that civil society is committed to conserving biodiversity.

CEPF is more than just a financing provider

A dedicated Regional Implementation Team (RIT) (local experts) directs funding to key areas and even the smallest organizations. Building civil society capacities, improving conservation outcomes, strengthening networks and sharing best practices. In the biodiversity hotspot of the Mediterranean basin, the RIT is entrusted to BirdLife International and its partners: LPO (BirdLife France), DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia) and BPSSS (BirdLife Serbia).