Mysterious Tree Markings in Czech Forests
PraguePig.com readers probably already know about the Czech Republic’s network of colour-coded hiking paths. But what about those other markings you see painted on Czech trees?
Most of them are the work of Lesy ČR, the quango responsible for managing large swaths of Czech forest, and, back in 2013, they published a guide to these markings (or, to be more accurate, “blazes”) on their website.
Here’s my translation of the key stuff…
Two horizontal white stripes = border of Lesy ČR “oddělení”
Lesy ČR divides up the woodland it manages into departments (“oddělení”), and each of these is sub-divided into smaller “díly” (“parts”; singular “díl”). Two short parallel horizontal stripes, resembling an “equals” sign (=), in white paint, mark the border of an “oddělení”.
Single horizontal stripe, in white paint = border of Lesy ČR “díl”
A single short horizontal stripe, resembling a “minus” sign (-), in white paint, marks the border of an Lesy ČR administrative area known as a “díl” (“part”).
Black number in a white rectangle = old method of marking border of “oddělení”
In the past, Lesy ČR used different ways of marking the borders of “oddělení” (“departments”), including this rather cool-looking black number in a white rectangle, some of which are still around today.
The Lesy ČR article also refers to the use of “tables with department numbers” being used but PraguePig.com isn’t sure exactly what’s meant by this:
Někde jsou, nebo v minulosti bývaly, na křižovatkách na stromech přímo tabulky s čísly oddělení nebo bylo číslo napsáno černou barvou na bílém obdélníku.
Number, in yellow paint = tree within a research area
A number in yellow paint indicates that a tree is part of a research project, in a specially designated area of the forest. Research areas are typically between 2,000 and 5,000 square metres in size, with borders marked by single white stripes (see above). It’s here where tree boffins dabble in bleeding-edge forest science.
Upside-down triangle with dot in centre, in white paint = triangulation point
These markings are used for triangulation, a slightly old-fashioned way of making maps. By measuring the angles between this tree and two other fixed points, surveyors can accurately divide the land into triangles, and use these triangles to map the territory.
These days, however, surveying is usually carried out with global positioning satellites, so PraguePig.com assumes this method is only for the kind of surveyor who makes his own sourdough and thinks vinyl “just sounds warmer”.
(Special thanks to Tomáš R. and Petr K. of the Czechlist Facebook group for their help with the triangulation translation.)
Wide horizontal stripe, in red paint = nature reserve
This slightly alarming long red stripe probably marks out the boundaries of a nature reserve or “přírodní památka” (“natural monument”) and almost certainly isn’t the work of a crazed backwoods serial killer. Honestly.
Dot of paint = tree to be felled
A dot of paint on a tree is effectively Lesy ČR’s mark of death, singling that tree out to be chopped down.
Upside-down “T” = tree to be trimmed
An upside-down “T” on a trunk, often in yellow paint, signifies that Lesy ČR plans to trim that tree’s branches.
PraguePig.com has also seen trees marked with a regular right-side-up “T”. I’m not sure what that means.
Trees to be trimmed are sometimes also marked with vertical stripes.
Cross = not to be felled or trimmed
Trees that aren’t to be felled or trimmed are sometimes marked with a cross.
PraguePig.com hasn’t seen this marking, however, and hasn’t been able to find any photos on the internet.
- The best quality trees for seed collection (oo-er, missus) are marked with a number between two white stripes. (In the past, the trees along the perimeter of areas deemed suitable for seed-collection were marked with a green stripe around the trunk or a green cross)
- Different colours are sometimes used to mark trees for different types of felling
- Arrows or slanted lines are sometimes painted on trees to guide the drivers of harvesting vehicles
- A letter “L” or a serial number are sometimes painted on trees infested with bark beetle
- Arrows and various other markings are sometimes left on trees to guide contractors who don’t know the forest well
FURTHER READING (IN CZECH)
- Proč jsou na stromech různé značky a co označují?
A 2003 article from the Lesy ČR magazine and website
- Značky na stromech nejsou jen pro turisty! Toto z nich zjistíte
TV Nova news website TN.cz’s 2018 rehash of the original Lesy ČR article
- Lesnická značka
Czech-language Wikipedia entry
- Znaky na stromech a jejich význam
2007 article from Detektoring, a website for Czech metal detectorists
As you might have gathered, PraguePig.com isn’t an expert on forestry, Czech or otherwise, and welcomes corrections or additions to this article in the comments below.