Prague, 22 March 2021
Re: Disagreement with destroying the park at Smetanovo nábřeží and clearing the trees as part of the project of revitalising the Anenský trojúhelník (St. Anne Triangle) area
Copies: Petr Hejma, Mayor of the Municipal District of Prague 1; Ingeborg Radok Žádná, Rector of AMU; Academic Senate of AMU; Management Board of AMU; academic community of AMU
The Environmental Panel of AMU, an advisory body to the Rector, is voicing its disagreement with the plans of the coalition ruling the Municipal District of Prague 1, led by the Mayor of the Municipal District who is also a member of the Management Board of AMU, Mr Petr Hejma (STAN), to demolish a small park close to the AMU building on Smetanovo nábřeží.
The project of ‘revitalising’ the park and opening access to the ‘čapadlo’ section of the river embankment in St. Anne’s Triangle is being pursued in public space and with public funding to the tune of almost CZK 25 million, yet without having been duly discussed with the politicians in opposition or the local citizens. As part of the revitalisation, the entire park is to be excavated, the grass area destroyed, and shrubs and two fully grown trees cleared, including a silverleaf maple tree that is a hundred years old. The entire park is to be eliminated and replaced by pavement, and, suddenly, grown trees are being added to the project only following citizen’s pressure. There are serious doubts as to whether grown trees may indeed take root soundly in the location.
The clearing of a healthy, century-old solitary tree was initially suspended on the basis of an ongoing discussion with the Prague Municipal Authority, and it was currently temporarily forbidden by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate because of bird nesting. The clearing would never have been suspended, however, without the protests and focused pressure on the part of people living in the neighbourhood and active citizens, almost three thousand of whom also signed a petition for retaining the green area with the maple tree.
Despite the protests and the ongoing discussion, the construction work has never stopped and it has already destroyed a large part of the green area and may further disrupt the root systems of the trees and the nesting of the birds.
It is only following sustained citizen pressure and the destruction of a large part of the area that the Prague 1 town hall, led by Mayor Mr Petr Hejma, is beginning to mention the possibility of the citizens being involved in the project.
We consider this ‘revitalisation’ project to be severely insensitive to the environment. The planned project irreversibly destroys the ecosystem, the climate and the humidity conditions of the area, which, in a well-founded expert opinion, cannot be replaced by any substitute plantation. We consider the destruction of the few remaining green areas in the centre of Prague and replacing them with concrete in this and many similar recent cases (such as the Old Town Gate new development project involving the clearing of full-grown trees, the development planned for the park close to St Agnes Convent, and the controversial project of revamping the Lobkowicz Garden in Petřín) to be in stark contrast to the values and objectives of our school’s climate policy, whose development is one of the tasks of our advisory body.
Members of the Environmental Panel of AMU