Update #13: 78% survival rate in the 1st year / September 13, 2022

As you can imagine, we're pleased with the progress so far, as are our local team and forestry engineers. It is an amazing achievement and data below show we can run a reforestation operation in Lurë adhering to the industry standards while keeping the operation economically incredibly lean.

Transparency is a core principle for Trees for Lurë and we must provide as much information as possible to our supporters and long-term partners from all around the world.

An essential part of any reforestation project should be monitoring activities, tracking the survival rate and yearly growth and identifying potential problems with young trees.

Without publishing this information, there is no way to evaluate project performance regarding reforestation success or failure and its economic viability.

Mia & Max (@wege_wagen) helping with maintenance and monitoring, Spring 2022
Mia & Max (@wege_wagen) helping with maintenance and monitoring, Spring 2022

78% Survival rate

We are delighted with our results regarding the survival rate after the first vegetation period. A survival rate of 78% is above the widely accepted minimum of 70%, considered a success.

We planted trees from 3 different suppliers in Autumn 2021, you can read more about the selection process in Update #10. We have done this to spread the risk and evaluate the survivability of the available planting material from Albanian suppliers.

Here are the gathered data on 10th September 2022:

Fushë-Krujë Burrel Korçë Total
Planted 1100 1018 594 2712
Dead 250 171 182 603
Survival rate 77.22% 83,20% 69,36% 77.77%
Growth 1–8 cm (10 samples) 1–8 cm (12 samples) 1–3 cm (4 samples)
Summary The issue was the planting area as some of the trees happened to be planted in areas with excessive water saturation.
This negatively influences the survival rate despite the trees performing incredibly well.
The issue was the snow/wind damage. These trees were much taller than the other saplings, therefore more sensitive to the snow and wind damage. These trees were too young to be planted in the harsh conditions in Lurë, resulting in poor performance.

Problems and lessons learned

The crucial part of monitoring is identifying problems and learning from them. While our death rate is acceptable, the simple truth is that 603 trees died, and it is essential to understand why it happened.

1) Excessive water saturation

This year has seen a lot of rainfall in Lurë. There have been long periods of heavy rain oversaturating the planting area.

Our planting area is on the hill, separated into two parts by the gravel/stone road. Due to heavy rain and the road functioning as drainage from the upper part, a few temporary streams have formed on the planting area’s lower part. The trees planted in this area suffered from water oversaturation.

This year’s area is much larger than last year’s at 6.25ha. We will identify potential areas unsuitable for planting and mark them accordingly to minimise this problem.

2) Poor planting

Correct planting technique is crucial for tree survival. Even perfect saplings can suffer a high death rate when planted incorrectly.

Early on, we recognised that we did not plant some trees correctly. In spring, the team was in Lurë to correct as many trees as possible and deal with the weather damage.

Issues we found:

  • planting too shallow, exposing the top of the root system as well as compromising the stability of the taller trees
  • planting too deep, covering the young/bottom branches
  • planting without taking the sapling out of the plastic pots (hard to believe, but yes, it happened)

We are changing how we will plant in 2022. We will increase the number of staff experienced in planting trees to educate, help and monitor volunteers. We are also offloading a large portion of planting to the local team as they’re well educated and have extensive experience with planting.

3) Weather damage

The trees we bought from the nursery in Burrel were significantly taller than the other saplings.

While these trees are doing well, and the survival rate is the highest among the three groups, they are susceptible to snow and wind damage, especially when planted too shallow.

We found many trees pushed to the ground by the weight of snow and had to correct this during our spring activities.

This experience leads us to change our suppliers for the 2022 planting and to prefer smaller, younger trees that are more resistant to the snow and wind.

4) Unsuitable saplings

Trees from the nursery in Korçë didn’t survive the harsh conditions in Lurë very well. These trees were donated to us.

Despite being within the specification for the saplings of that age, it is clear that saplings with only one vegetation period are not suitable for planting.

This information is vital for us. We won’t be planting saplings this young saplings anymore. We are also preparing trees nursery to allow saplings to stay for minimum of two vegetation periods there before planting.

What’s next?

As you can see, we had a fair share of success and failure, which is only natural when dealing with nature and weather. We had an opportunity to learn from our year of planting which allows us implement changes to mitigate the problems listed above.

With this experience, we’re raising the bar, and we set our goal for this year to 10 000 trees.

On behalf of the whole team,


Update #19: Overview of the 2023 / January 28, 2024

Overview and Brochure of our work in 2023, what a busy year it was!

Update #18: 10,081 planted in Autumn 2023 / December 15, 2023

We planted another 10,081 trees in 2023 bringing total number up to 22,793!

Update #17: Organising school events in 2023 / December 7, 2023

Organising school events in 2023

Update #16: Dorjan leaving Trees for Lurë / July 10, 2023

Dorjan decided to leave the project and focus on new exciting opportunities.

Update #15: Preparing seeds of Pinus nigra, Pinus peuce and Abies alba for planting / April 11, 2023

Seeds to grow 11 000 seedlings in our nursery are being prepared.

Update #14: Planting 10 000 trees!!! / October 17, 2022

10 000 trees! That’s pushing our effort to the next level!

Update #13: 78% survival rate in the 1st year / September 13, 2022

78% survival rate, issues we enountered and lessons learned.

Update #12: Partnerships, Tree Nursery & Spring planting / May 25, 2022

Partnerships, Tree Nursery & Spring planting

Update #11: Finance 2019–2021 / January 27, 2022

How did we use donations in years 2019–2021?

Update #10 / October 25, 2021

Choosing the right planting material and supplier.

Update #9 / October 1, 2021

We dug 2550 holes! AdZM project changes, local community support and new ways to donate.

Update #8 / September 21, 2021

Green light for 2500 trees, new species, new area and seeds!

Update #7 / July 20, 2021

Snow in late May, paperwork and plans for the Autumn 2021.

Update #6 / May 20, 2021

We are back! The 1st event of 2021 takes place 28th-30th May, we are planting 2 500 trees in Lurë!

Update #5 / April 21, 2020

First, there was an earthquake, and now we have COVID-19 global pandemic

Update #4 / December 16, 2019

Earthquake, why we planted 51 trees and What’s next?

Update #3 / November 26, 2019

Earthquake, 2019 canceled, earthquake relief volunteering

Update #2 / November 24, 2019

More volunteers and donors, getting ready for next week, Help the Child! update and TV, Radio, Czech Embassy.

Update #1 / November 15, 2019

Welcome Scout Tirana 1, Make child happy!, new team members, stickers and exciting partners.