"One of our goals is to ensure that Lithuania's forest cover continues to grow. National Forest Day has become a true spring tradition, when companies, organisations, citizens and their families go out for a day to replant forests. It is also positive that this initiative not only gives volunteers the opportunity to see up close how much effort it takes to plant a forest but also how it takes on different forms - businesses and schools create their own traditions and plant forests on various occasions," says Valdas Kaubrė, Director General of VMU.
"For the second year in a row, our Group companies have not only contributed to the National Forest Day but have also created their own tradition - the SBA Forest Day, when on one day, for one hour, employees of all companies meet together in the forest to make their country greener. We believe that volunteering will become an integral part of modern and progressive organisations, and such initiatives can inspire other businesses to come together and dedicate a day or a few days a year to good deeds in the communities in which they operate," says Jolanta Grašienė, Vice President of the SBA Group.
In the Norkaičiai forest district, Klaipėda region, 140 SBA Group volunteers replanted 2 hectares and more than 9 000 trees - pine, spruce, and birch. In Vaišvydava village, Kaunas district, 75 volunteers replanted 1.6 hectares of forest - 5 000 pine and spruce trees. And at the same time, in the Utena district, 50 volunteers planted a forest of 3 hectares with 12 000 pine trees.
A replanted forest will regrow faster than a naturally regenerated one
More than 275 employees from companies all over Lithuania joined the SBA Forest Action in the Utena, Kaunas and Šilutė districts. According to Marius Gruzdas, Chief Forester of the SBA Dubrava Regional Unit, not only are the woodlots important for ecology and sustainability but also for the volunteers themselves.
"We want as many people as possible to get to know and understand how that small 1-2-year-old tree grows into a big and strong tree. Volunteers also do a great job in helping foresters maintain the country's forests. While it may seem that forests can grow back naturally, the reality is somewhat different, especially when the forest is attacked by pests and the saplings dry up. The forest then becomes a virtual wasteland, with a proliferation of low-value tree species, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Once replanted and maintained, the forest recovers more quickly and becomes a sustainable young forest", says Gruzdas.
After the trees are planted, they are intensively maintained for three years, removing trees, shrubs and grasses that could overshadow the tree. The seedlings must also be cared for every autumn until they reach a height of 1.5 metres. The tops are then protected with repellents or even sheep's wool to prevent deer from preying on the tasty young trees in winter. Mature trees require a little less maintenance - every three years or even less.
The longest and hardest growing trees, according to Gruzdas, are the oaks, the kings of the forest, while the fastest-growing are the white alders and aspen.
The SBA Forest Action is part of a wave of SBA volunteering initiated by the Group's employees for the third year in a row. Over 80 different volunteering initiatives have been organised to help needy families, Ukrainians, elderly people, animal shelters and various NGOs.