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Highway killed old oak tree in Savinac, Serbia


In June 2013, construction of the highway Corridor XI, led by the company Koridori Srbije DOO under a public-private partnership, has reached a 600 year-old Oak tree close to the village Savinac, called "Zapis”

(Section Ljig - Preljina).

The citizens of Savinac, environmental NGOs and the Green Party opposed cutting down the tree by organizing local protests and a broader media campaign to pressure the company to modify its construction plans.

The land where the tree is located was expropriated and the owner received reimbursement of 2000 EUR (around 2,750 USD) for 30m3 of wood. Even though, the old oak tree has a religious significance to the local people it has never been put under the state protection, therefore both the Serbian Institute of Nature Protection and the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments issued the permit to cut it down. Still, the tree is located in the cultural-historical and natural complex Savinac-Šarani.

The campaign to protect the old oak managed to temporarily stop the highway construction and start development of alternative proposals. In July 2013, the Minister of Construction and Urbanism came out with the final solution including rerouting of the highway and protecting the tree with metal armature construction and additional water supply. However, according to some sources, the ministry postponed the activities for after the winter hoping that the tree would not survive it. Finally, the highway was not rerouted and the old oak was cut down on 23rd of July 2015 during night to prevent local resistance.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Highway killed old oak tree in Savinac, Serbia
Location of conflict:Savinac
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Asphalt
Transport infrastructure

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The motorway will connect the Serbian capital of Belgrade and Bar, Montenegro's main seaport. Italy, Montenegro and Serbia are lobbying to list the route with Pan-European corridors, and it is frequently referred to as part of proposed Corridor XI, or 4B - an envisioned ferry and motorway corridor linking Bari, Bar, Belgrade and Bucharest.

In Serbia Corridor 11 has three sections which are financed from various sources; Section Ljig - Preljina, total investment 308 million USD, finance by the credit of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the main contractor is a construction company Azvirt, Azerbaijan, domestic companies engage in work of at least 49% of total contract value; Section Ub – Lajkovac, total investment 100 million USD from the budget of Republic of Serbia, the main contractors ar two Serbian companies Uzice a.d. and GP Planum a.d.; Section Obrenovac - Ub and Lajkovca -Ljig, total investments of 333.7 million USD, including 301 million USD loan from Chinese Exim Bank and the main contractor "Shandong Hi-speed Group", and the 10 % percent of share to consortium of Serbian companies lead by Energoprojekt.

Project area:4 (total area occupied by the oak roots); 270 km (length of Serbian section of Corridor XI)
Level of Investment:3,6 billion USD (total investment in Serbian section of highway Corridor XI)
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2013
End of the conflict:23/07/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Koridori Srbije DOO from Serbia - Main investor and organizer of the constructions
Shandong Hi-speed Group - Chinese construction company, the main contractor
Azvirt - Construction company from Azerbaijan, the main contractor
Uzice a.d. - Serbian construction company, the main contractor
GP Planum a.d. - Serbian construction company, the main contractor
Energoprojekt from Poland - Leader of the consortium of Serbian construction companies
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Regional Development and Local Self-government; Ministry of Construction and Urbanism; Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; Institute of Nature Conservation of Serbia; The Republic of Azerbaijan
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Export Import Bank from China - Supports construction of Corridor XI with 301 million USD loan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Hrast gerila; GM Optimist; Oplaneti se; Zelena lista Srbije; Evropski pokret; Stop ekocid u Srbiji; Permakultura Srbije; Ekoloski medijski servis Srbije:; Zelena patrola; Zeleni Srbije

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Development of alternatives:The opponents of the project demand rerouting of the highway, claiming that the tree would not survive the relocation (proposed by the company) and calling for compliance with European Union environment protection directives, as Serbia has a plan to became EU member in the future.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The old oak tree was cut down in July 2015.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Ko se boji kletve još

I Evropa traži spas 600 godina starog hrasta

Izmestiti prastari hrast isto što i ubiti ga

"Vučić ponizio i nas i svetinju"

Narod čuva sveti hrast!

Sveti hrast od 600 leta menja trasu autoputa?

Oak stops construction of Corridor 11

Seoba „zapisnog” hrasta iz sela Savinac


Energoprojekt za Kineze gradi na Koridoru 11

Ministar obećao da će viševekovni hrast biti spasen

Zbog hrasta će i EU da reaguje?!

Kinezi počeli Koridor 11 (FOTO)

Chinese Company Offers to Build Corridor 11

Belgrade – South Adriatic

Hrast na Koridoru 11 posečen tokom noći (VIDEO)

600 year old oak cut down

Nadležni "našli" rešenje za problem na Koridoru 11: Mole boga da surova zima ubije stari hrast

Ilić: Bile su vam bitnije kafana i crkva, ali ne brinite, nećemo dirati ni hrast!

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video of protests 1

Video of protests 2

Oak tree album

Old oak was cut down

Meta information

Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update07/04/2016



Bikers guard the old oak too

The oak tree is 40 m high and has volume of 7.5 m

Cutting down of the old oak

After three years of resistance, the old oak was cut down to give way to high road

The old oak tree and his guards

The old oak tree became a symbol of civil initiatives.

The construction works and the oak tree

The conflict started when the highway construction approached the oak