In the evolutionary sense, it is the oldest existing tree in Europe, but ironically it was not identified untile 1875 – one of the last trees to be discovered.
Professor Milan Mataruga from Banja Luka University in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the leading scientists working on the conservation of this rare plant.
“I first found out about the Picea omorika when I was a student at the Forestry Faculty of the University of Belgrade in 1991. We had a field visit to the area where the tree is endemic, and it was love at first sight. I was immediately captivated by this beautiful rare plant, and since then it has been my favourite species,” he says.
From then on, Professor Mataruga dreamt of taking some time off to work on the preservation of Picea omorika. The last time anything similar was done was almost seventy years ago, in 1951, and the professor knew that a new range of initiatives was needed. However, in between academic and family obligations, and with a lack of funds, he could not find a way to make progress toward his dream.