May 19, 2015

Green Bike Lanes, haste on a budget

Our 14 endangered Møllegade trees, are just a small part of a much larger problem: Right now, the city is paving bike lanes through recreative areas all over the city. As the Møllegade case exemplifies, it’s happening with zero respect for our sparse urban nature. Simple as that.

By Kildevældsparken on the outer part of Østerbro, permission is sought to remove an entire lane of old trees, to widen the bike lane. Rigid directives for the width of a “super” bike lane are winning over our urban nature. On top of that, the budgets aren’t accomodating the preservation of existing trees, at all. Whatever the public may wish for, it’s cheaper and easier (short term) to chop the trees down, and "replace" them with saplings. 

The city is following this site, but it’s as though they’re not getting the message. They invite us to a meeting, under the device of “possible preservation of trees”, only to emphasize that everything is set in stone. We have still not seen the report that condemns all trees as sick, used to shut down the advisory board’s wish for a green plan. At the meeting we learned that there *were*, in fact, trees marked for preservation, namely the ones we, the Local Environmental Council (Miljøpunkt Nørrebro) and the Local Council of Nørrebro (Lokaludvalg Nørrebro) are fighting for: the three ash trees doomed to be replaced by a shed, and the big corner ash.

We were told that we are welcome to try to fundraise the million crowns it will take to save the four trees ourselves, but at the same time that the proposal is final. No delays will be tolerated. For the citizens however, it’s more important that this is done right, rather than fast. And, if the budget has been unrealistically small from the beginning, the city council should admit its mistake and make amends, before it gets worse. Trees are more important than deadlines.  

More on our fight for the Møllegade trees:

May 12, 2015

The citizen's briefing

So much for a second chance. After the latest (orientation) meeting, it is now clear, that the 14 trees will be cut down. The lowdown: the council’s head honcho on the project was miffed that we implied here that they’re not including locals in the project. The project manager was still not budging. The Local Environmental Council and Local Council of Nørrebro were supportive of our fight to save the three ash trees, where the shed would be placed according to the plan, and the huge corner ash.

The project has been underfunded from the get go, and incorporating existing trees is an added cost. Development requires special attention and care around the roots. What would it cost to preserve these four trees? A million crowns was the reply. We were welcome to try and fundraise this, ourselves.

The poplars in the middle are doomed, no matter what. One of them leans toward a shed, and there was once a fire in one of the sheds, to the detriment of the trees. On top of that, a hearing was held where some expressed a wish for a more open space, without the shade of the poplars.

Now here’s the fun part: which three trees have been marked for preservation? The sweet mirabelle on the Møllegade side, and the two scrawny ones on the Guldbergsgade side, which forester Ove Løbner suggested could be felled without damaging the area’s green environment.

The head of project wouldn’t take “Ove Whatshisname’s” word for it, and isn’t interested in external evaluations, but relies solely on the project’s own experts. Jeg tried to convey how difficult it is for roadside trees to grow and thrive, and that we should all fight to preserve those already existing. A message that was rebuffed by a member of the following group, who has seen how trees in rural areas can survive anything. Jeez. 

From the council perspective on things, this is how the tree equation adds up: four new rubinias will be planted along the new bike lane, and the small bed in the corner will be planted with bulbs (!). The council’s tree count is 1:1, and poplars will be ressurected as saplings, further in the City of the Elderly's compound. And forget about the trees lining the street.

The status is that the Local Environmental Council, the Local Council of Nørrebro and we, the public, must try to fundraise the economic means to preserve the four trees, in a very short time span.

I’ve sketched the new plan from memory. The two trees they’re preserving are numbers 2 and 3 out of the five on the Guldbergsgade side. Go for a walk and see for yourself. The two largest (4 and 5) closest to the Kindergarten, will also be felled.  

Møllegade is facing down. Read it and weep.

May 11, 2015

The day before

We’ve raised our public voices to win a chance to save some of our endangered trees on the corner of Møllegade and Guldbergsgade tomorrow. But which ones? We must choose our battles.

The 14 endangered trees in the development project shed light on the very core of the problem: that there is no master plan for our urban trees. One department is working to solve one isolated problem, here the bike lane, and another department must work to salvage the remaining trees as best they can. With one well-formulated policy for all urban trees, we could coordinate all development. So many trees could be saved, and our budgetted ressources put to better use.

The cost of one new urban tree in Copenhagen is 75,000 Danish Crowns (€ 10.000), including soil improvement. And yet most roadside trees die before reaching 7 years of age. The growth conditions are too harsh, what with the salt, collisions, and compressed soil, shared with the underground wires and pipes. We desperately need to protect the remaining roadside trees. 

At the recommendation of Ove Løbner fra the Danish Society of Nature Conservation (Danmarks Naturfredningsforening), we will fight to save the trees along the outer wall, on both sides. These trees have been spared from the salt and collisions, and have had a chance for proper root expansion. They have matured and could, with the right planning, live another 80 years. If they are felled, however, there will never be trees on that very spot again, ever. That alone should be reason enough for the council to put that plan to rest.

Photo from the council’s own disposition in 2013, a small urban forest!

PS: The banner collapsed from the rain, but it is back up again. We all need to stay vigilant on the behalf of our trees, and make noise when they are endangered.

More on our fight for the Møllegade trees:

May 5, 2015

Latest development in the case of 14 endangered Nørrebro trees

This is what happens when we stand united: the fact that so many citizens have had such a strong reaction to the planned deforestation of our neighborhood, made a difference. We have been invited to a meeting by the city “regarding clearing up the tree situation on Møllegade and Guldbergsgade, and possible preservation of trees”. We probably won’t get them all, but we will fight to preserve as many as possible in the new plan. There is not way they are getting 14.

Experience tells us it is too early to let our guard down. We must continue to stress how important the trees are to us, and hopefully we can prevent such a devastating plan from happening again. We know more after the meeting on May 12th.

Greetings from a hopeful row of poplar trees:

Earlier posts on the endangered Møllegade trees:

May 4, 2015

Update on Nørrebro’s 14 endangered trees

The redesign of the recycling station on Møllegade/Guldbergsgade, has left us in a situation that could have been prevented with a tree policy. If only the project manager from the very beginning had been instructed that preserving the existing trees were of the highest priority. Instead, this has been left up to the citizens, represented by a select mix of local councils, who have had zero influence on the final result.

So here we are. Stuck with a false health report on the seventeen trees, and a final tile fixated plan, as far from the intital layout and the citizens need as it can possibly be. We were told by the project manager, that it pending political green light is to be finished in early 2016, but now the word is, the entrepreneurs are already booked for August. Nothing is set. Except for the fact that they plan to fell at least fourteen big and healthy trees, in a neighborhood that have so little.

We have written our mayor of trees to explain the case, and have attached the true health report of the trees, which are healty and full of life. We have made it clear that the citizens must be heard in this matter, and that we under no circumstances will accept the feeling of fourteen out of seventeen big and healthy trees on Nørrebro.

What can we do?
We have placed banners by the square, to inform the citizens of what is about to happen. A petition have been suggested. We need to spread the word on social media and in the press.

At this spot the city plans to fell 14 of our trees. Help us stop them!