EU project calls on Slovenians to help save wild chestnuts

EU project calls on Slovenians to help save wild chestnuts

Once loved and cherished by emperors, the wild chestnut tree is now in danger

This year, Slovenia is once again engaged in the European project “Noč ima svojo moč” (translated as the Night has its Might). As part of the project activities, scientists invite citizens to join forces in monitoring the health of chestnuts – an imperial tree that was once an inalienable part of the urban landscape but is now under threat.

Chestnut trees have cultural significance, and many are protected as natural monuments

As part of the European Researchers' Night event, on Friday 27 November 2020, the project Noč ima svojo moč will take place for the third year in a row in Slovenia. In order to bring science closer to people, project partners will call on citizens to help them observe and monitor the health of wild chestnut trees.

Citizens can get involved by submitting observations of diseased trees to the project website. This way they will help provide a more comprehensive insight into the state of the wild chestnut disease in the country and contribute to the creation of a map of trees affected by the chestnut bacterium.

Wild chestnut trees were once very fashionable and loved by Slovenes in general - they were even called 'imperial' trees, as the Municipality of Kranj, involved in the project activities, has reminded. This is likely because European emperors used to plant a lot of chestnuts, mostly on tree-lined avenues, along the new roads and near castles and imperial courts.

But lately, wild chestnuts have been increasingly threatened by the dangerous chestnut bacterial scab, a disease that destroys the rind or bark of the trees. The disease is recognized by the oozing of orange-red to rusty brown liquid from cracks on the infected bark, most often somewhere on the tree trunk.

The bark begins to die and the tree, which cannot survive without the bark, dries out. Since this bacterial disease cannot be treated, the most effective measure to curb the epidemic is the timely removal of infected wild chestnuts. Here is where the citizens come in - they can point out the location of as many infected chestnut trees as possible.

The Noč ima svojo moč project activities are funded under Horizon 2020 – the European research and innovation programme. They involve a consortium of partners including House of Experiments Foundation, the Jožef Stefan Institute, the Institute of Chemistry, the National Institute of Biology and the Technical Museum of Slovenia and a number of local authorities.



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