More than 8,000 Great Trees in Latvia have already been identified, but experts estimate that these are only one quarter of Latvia's Great Trees. Therefore, as the Centenary approaches, the Centenary Bureau of the Latvian Ministry of Culture and the Nature Conservation Agency have come up with the initiative "LV100 Great Trees" (LV100 Dižošanās). As a part of the initiative, everyone is invited to go outside and help find the Great Trees that have yet to be discovered, and, with the help of a special test, to find out which Great Tree best suits your personality.
Useful information for finding and mapping Great Trees is available on the website dizosanas.lv100.lv. A user-friendly map has been created where you can see the Great Trees that have already been identified and add new ones. The data uploaded onto the digital map will be double-checked and the newly identified trees will be followed up on by specialists from the Nature Conservation Agency. If the tree fits the defined criteria, it will be registered in the official register of Great Trees and an identifying placard will be placed near the tree.
The initiative "LV100 Great Trees" continues the Centenary campaign, inviting you to give the gift of time to do good deeds for yourself and for Latvia, so that we can achieve great things together .
“More than 10,000 people have participated in preparing the Latvian Centenary programme. It is wonderful that not only residents of Latvia, but also our people abroad are ready to give their time to the Centenary initiatives. For example one year ago we began the initiative "The Centenary Word Wizard" (Simtgades Burtnieks) during which time more than 40,000 manuscripts from the folklore collection have been transcribed in 5376 hours of work or 224 days round-the-clock. Many people enjoy their summer vacations in Latvia, which is why we are calling on everyone to take a closer look at our natural bounty, and spend some time searching for and mapping Great Trees,” urges Dace Melbārde, Latvian Minister of Culture.
Great Trees are the oldest and largest examples of their respective species. In many cases they are significant and grand elements in the landscape —testimony to the majesty and splendour of the natural world. They also play an important role in maintaining species diversity—they are home to many living organisms, including some that are rare and endangered. Often these Great Trees are of cultural-historical significance as well—they are associated with historical events and are witnesses to history throughout the centuries. They tell the story of Latvia and the Latvian people, just as the one hundred oaks that were planted around the Latvian border on May 4th of this year for the opening of the Centenary celebrations will tell about the people who planted them and about Latvia as it is today.
Until now, most of the Great Trees found in Latvia have been oaks, pines, and lindens. Less common are firs, pines, and birches. Great Trees are rarely found in forests; more often they can found in clearings, primeval hollows, river valleys, parks, country lanes, old homesteads, and among the dunes along the seashore.
On Tuesday, 27 June, the organisers of the "LV100 Great Trees" initiative, tree-finding enthusiasts, and creative personalities met at the Ēbelmuiža Park in Riga, where four Great Trees are growing—a linden and three oaks, including the Greatest Oak in Pāraugava. Conservationists demonstrated the proper way to measure the circumference of a tree on one of the Great Oaks, and what can be used if you happen upon a lovely, majestic tree, but have left your measuring tape at home.
The organisers of the initiative pointed out that the tree trunk should be measured at a height of 1.3 meters, approximately at chest height. To measure the tree you can use almost any object that can be measured at home to later calculate the circumference, for example shoelaces, paper money, or the span of your hand. The coordinates for the location of the tree should be noted, but if you are unable to do so, make a sketch of the tree’s location so that the tree can later be registered on the digital map. When you find a Great Tree, first try to determine the species, which is easiest to do by looking at the tree’s leaves, bark, branches, and buds. The tree should be photographed from a distance, to show how it looks in the landscape, and up close, so that specialists can assess the state of the tree trunk.
The initiative "LV100 Great Trees" is organised by the Ministry of Culture and the Nature Conservation Agency, and is supported by Latvian Television, Latvian Radio, and the webportal LSM.lv. The initiative is also supported by Picturehappy.lv and Uzvelckreklu.lv, who are offering participants the opportunity to have a personalised Great Tree campaign T-shirt printed.