The oldest oak tree in Europe, a new tourist attraction for Croatia.
In a green oasis in the heart of Slavonia, in the Prašnik old-growth forest near Nova Gradiška, grows the largest and oldest oak in Europe. According to the estimates by three distinguished international scientists from the Netherlands, Finland and Great Britain who visited the area three years ago, the giant oak sprung up somewhere around the year 1675, reports Vecernji List on September 23, 2015.
“We are proud of our oak. This is an unique example of an oak which has reached such an age in a natural environment”, said Damir Jelić, from the Nova Gradiška Branch of the Forest Administration. The oak sprung up during the Ottoman rule, it has survived Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia, and has welcomed the new independent Croatia.
Given the fact that its lifetime is inevitably coming to an end, foresters from Nova Gradiška have decided to preserve its genetic code for future generations. They have gathered acorns around the tree and have grown seedlings and handed them over to the Forest Research Institute in Jastrebarsko.
“We have been reproducing it for the last two years. We are growing seeds and young plants in order to get the same DNA structure. A part of the seedlings has been planted in the park in Stara Gradiška, while the rest will be distributed to schools, various institutions and citizens”, said dr. Mladen Ivanković from the Department of Genetics, Breeding and Seed Production of Forest Trees at the Croatian Forestry Institute.
The Prašnik old-growth forest is the only such lowland forest in Croatia. It covers the area of about 53 hectares and includes about 1400 age-old oak trees and 50 trees of hornbeam and beech.
“In Prašnik, we want to organize educational programs, a reception point, educational nature trails and viewing platforms. Everything will be built near the edges of the forest because the natural balance must not be compromised”, says Mario Pavičić from the Nature Slavonica Public Institution. The entire project will be applied for the European funds, which offer grants in the amount of up to 100,000 euros.