January 27, 2019

The North Pole and City of the Elderly, part one

Here we go. The city has initiated the urban development in the green oasis of Nørrebro, City of the Elderly (De Gamles By). They are acting now which is why we need to protect the green areas in the master plan. They have already approved a three-part school and a diabetes center, both with parking spaces. Parking below ground is costly so we might get them on street level.

The administration
The Finance Administration are responsible for part of the unique nature, which is evident from the haste with which they remove it and the way they mishandle it. Our precious nature are taking up attractive plots of land. We must pick our battles and right now that is the North Pole (Nordpolen). Along with the Danish Society for Nature Preservation, Local Environmental Centre Nørrebro, Danish Dendrological Society and strong local forces, we are fighting to preserve the endangered corner.

The North Pole
The North Pole is the wild and beautiful corner facing Tagensvej, home to the magnificent old hawthorn, older than Nørrebro itself. In 2012 biologist and citizen Mogens Hansen made a complete registration of all the trees in the area. Shortly thereafter the city felled a row of old trees along the North Pole, when they widened the road for a bus lane (as they later admitted, they didn't even have to). The adjoining childrens daycare center burned to the ground and the plot was left bare. At the same time, they backed up a container space into the wild nature. The salami method, as we know it.

By 2015 the area had changed significantly and they began to speak of it as a developing site. Mogens Hansen mapped it all again and made a full report of his observations. And lastly in December 2018 the map was updated again, and all trees listed. Documentation of serious deforestation and extremely poor maintenance, with devastating consequences to nature, biodiversity and animal life.

The Master Plan
Last year, they decided against placing the diabetes centre on the North Pole, but it is still in play as a developing site, along with the rest of the area. We have been invited along in the following group for City of the Elderly, and at the intro meeting all the invited parties made it clear how preserving the nature in the area was a very high priority. Not the neat patches of grass but the the wild nature, the nooks and the old trees.

The fight is huge and extensive in documentation, so it will be cut up in parts. This is the first part. All documentation will be laid out here on the blog, for all interested citizens, politicians and journalists to see. The first part includes the document, count and map from 2012 and 2015, and the registration from Dec. 2018. (Note: not translated, links are to the Danish version)

City of the Elderly was also the battleground for Møllegade, where we spent three long years fighting for the small urban forest on the corner. As current events shows: the plan to "open up" and remove urban nature, is a well known exercise in prepping for future development.

"Opening up" exercise
Møllegade (3 years of fight)

January 11, 2019

New City Architect for Copenhagen!

We are getting a new city architect. According to Politiken newspaper, Camilla van Deurs have experience as a landscape architect, and comes straight from Gehl. A place where they truly get the importance of liveable urban spaces and recreational areas. Bravo, Copenhagen!

A big congratulations to both Copenhagen and Camilla van Deurs. One can't help getting the hopes up.

December 31, 2018

The year in trees 2018

It didn't get any easier to be a Copenhagen tree in 2018, either. Carlsberg are unstoppable, Greater Copenhagen Utility (HOFOR) have zero regard for the trees in their projects and there are still no count of, rules for or supervision of our trees. On Blegdamsvej we stood helplessly by as we watched the city dig up vital roots and leave the rest uncovered, to dry out. In the De Gamles By, majestic old trees are endangered by incompetent design, the lake chestnuts have still not received the life extending care plan and on Islands Brygge, the administration planned to have the entire avenue of cherry trees felled.

Then something happened.

The citizens came together and let their voices be heard, and the cherry avenue became a subject for discussion. At a citizen's meeting attended by administration, planting developer and politicians (SF and Radikale), the trees finally became a subject of conversation. The green part of the administration are delighted to find the citizens so engaged in their work (the grey part: not so much). The important thing is that we finally are talking about *why* our street trees are suffering. And find ways to avoid it in the future. This entails among other things that we must hold back on the plant poison that is salt.

It also turns out that the administration are keeping an eye on Facebook. They listen when we voice our concern and take note when a lot of us are expressing strong feelings about our urban nature. So stay in the fight. Together we can move this giant mountain. And next year we will save as much of De Gamles By, as humanly possible. <3

Happy New Year!

September 6, 2018

De Gamles By, oasis or building site?

Our politicians are these days planning to develop in De Gamles By (City of the Elderly), building parking lots, a school, businesses and a diabetes center. The latter on Nordpolen (The North Pole), the last remaining part of the old commons and home to the magical old hawthorn, older than Nørrebro itself. The wildest thing we've got. The political majority are either oblivious to the importance of history and nature, or they just don't care.

Nørrebro is the most densely populated part of Copenhagen (times three the average!) and at the same time has the lowest amount of m2 green pr citizen. Now it makes sense why they felled so many trees along the years, for no apparent reason, "opening up" from all sides. An effective way to minimize the resistance, come building time.

The big decisions are made in city hall these days. Save the Urban Trees will work closely together with the green forces to keep the North Pole safe from developing, and have it protected as a park. The citizen's movement Forsvar De Gamles By (Defend the City of the Elderly) are keeping us updated on the development, and it is all happening at warp speed right now.

A look at the father of Nørrebro, the old hawthorn complete with arms, legs a face and a powerful personality.

July 25, 2018

Trees cool down the city

A reminder just how important the tree canopy is, in the city. In addition to all the other benefits, trees help cool the city, when it is aboil. This is the temperature difference between a street without trees and with trees.

Picture borrowed from the tree loving, Canadian architect Brent Bellamy.

June 9, 2018


In May the citizens alert sounded: the City had in one swoop felled the entire row of wild (self-seeded) trees along Amagerbanen, the old rail track on Amager. The reason was a new pedestrian- and bike path, and along that grass clad concrete slides as part of the climate protection plan. Meaning: they felled big and healthy trees to better the climate. In what world does that make sense?

And now the turn has come for Enghaveparken. On Monday the last of the total 69 trees (of 281), will be felled for the big climate protection plan in the park. They have promised to take good care of the remaining trees during construction and will also replant trees when they are done. As a citizen it is just so hard to understand how it is not possible to incorporate existing nature in these plans. Among other things, big trees can absorb and retain hundreds of liters of water daily. Why not take advantage of that, instead of focusing on the sole solution of concrete slides and tubs? A climate protection plan should also be defined as the protection of a climate, fit for humans?
Let the past weeks dry heat serve as a reminder of how vital trees are for the city. We cannot do without them, simple as that.

Citizens shots of the damages along Amagerbanen. Beautiful before and atrocious after, shot by Anders Adamsen and the over and out by Felix Becker.

March 21, 2018

Jubilee on Blegdamsvej

Today we celebrate a jubilee of the three first street trees in the city's road work on Blegdamsvej.  It has been exactly one month since they had their vital roots cut, and they have since been left exposed under a layer of plastic. This is the equivalent of killing the trees. Roots so close to the tree must not be cut. And exposed roots need to stay moist, if you can't provide soil immediately. This is common knowledge by anyone who works with trees.

There are plenty of strong and dedicated people in the city, who know about trees. But they are obviously not consulted during planning and coordination, and they are not present during roadwork near trees. It is an administrative disaster! If the city administration don't see a problem here, they are a part of it.

Dressed for the occasion, ready for execution. Same tree in 2013, mentioned here.

This is the tree that was hit by a truck in 2016. Left unattended for six weeks and plenty of desperate pleas for help, before they cut the wound clean. By that time someone pulled the branch from below, increasing the damage.

Same project in the opposite end of Blegdamsvej. The area below the crown of the tree cannot under any circumstances be used for storing heavy concrete and equipment. The soil suffers compression, the roots are deprived of oxygen and the branches die.

On the bright side they seem to have found a gentler way to remove the stone, with minimal disturbance to the roots in the too small plant beds. Maybe making noise really does make a difference?

The jubilarians. I asked one of the bricklayers when they planned to give the trees soil? "I don't know... when we are done?"