Perhaps when Erion Veliaj says “trees”, he means construction permits?
The Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj has posted a Facebook story where he declares him and a team of “dozens” of volunteers planted 25,000 trees in one day.
The post, dated 2 April shows him and a handful of volunteers hard at work in the Allgjate, Vaqarr area of Tirana. Stretching over an area of what appears to be hillside, in the background of the video a number of volunteers are hard at work planting saplings.
In the accompanying text he states:
“I don’t believe there was a more beautiful view in Tirana than thousands of people involved in every corner of the territory to plant trees.”
“…along with dozens of volunteers, 25,000 saplings. So proud to serve this city!”
From the video, not only is it apparent that there are only a handful of volunteers on site, but there seems to be a serious lack of saplings. In a few frames of the accompanying video, some approximately 1m high plants are observed, but otherwise the area is largely devoid of foliage.
His claim that these “dozens” of volunteers planted 25,000 trees in a few hours, is also quite astonishing.
Let us consider the maths.
From the video and his comments, let us say that there were 50 volunteers on site.
25,000 saplings divided by 50 volunteers equates to each person planting a staggering 500 trees. If we break this down into hours (let us say three) then things get even more surprising- a total of 166.6 trees per hour per person. That is a pretty impressive 2.7 trees per volunteer, per minute.
Just to reiterate, we are being told that each volunteer dug a hole, put in a sapling, and filled up the hole every 20 seconds. Even if the hole was pre-dug, you would need someone else to hold the sapling and you would still need time to fill in the soil around it. This is not taking into account the time needed to install a stake for the tree to be supported by, as well as protection tubes which are often necessary for the tree to survive.
Exit consulted an arborist (tree specialist) who has been working extensively in the UK, Australia, and US for the 20 years. He explained that if they were just small shoots and the holes were already dug, one person could hope to plant around 20 trees an hour. If installing protection tubes and stakes, this would half to around 10 per hour. Then if the trees were larger, say 1m or so, like the ones pictured in Veliaj’s video, this would half again to around 5 per team of two, each hour.
American tree-planting company Davey Tree who have over 140 years of tree-planting experience stated the following:
“Generally, a sapling can be planted in 15 to 30 minutes while container-grown or burlap trees take an hour to plant.”
Heather Klinefelter, an individual with a Masters in gardening and over 20 years’ experience in running community led planting projects gave her view:
“The last project I worked on like this took 75 volunteers approximately 4 hours to plant 40 medium sized trees in pre-dug holes. The project before that was approximately 50 2′ tall spike trees with tubes & poles. We had about 30 volunteers and it took about 4 hours without pre-dug holes. If someone is claiming to have planted 25000 trees with 50 volunteers in say 5 hours, that equates to each person planting 100 trees per hour which seems impossible.”
For Erion Veliaj and his team of trusty tree huggers to have dug 25,000 holes, planted 25,000 trees, installed 25,000 stakes and protection tubes, and filled in 25,000 holes, based on 2 people per tree, over a duration of three hours he would have needed a team of around 3,333.3 volunteers.
Even if he got the number wrong, and it was 2500 trees, this would still equate to 16 trees per hour, which according to our panel of experts, is still not possible. Based on the figures and estimates given by our experts, even 250 trees could be something of a stretch.