December 31, 2016

Thank you for an amazing tree year

A heartfelt thank you to all for an amazing year in trees. As usual, here is a small recap of what we achieved in 2016 and what we have to fight for next year.

The Ladytree and the old beech.
We won the fight for the two old trees on the Sølund premises. This was possible because both the winner of the competition and the developer acknowledged just how important the trees are to the city. The dinosaurs of architecture in the competition lost, by reason of being outmoded. An incredibly positive development!

The liberation of the Ladytree.
Following the rescue, we had a great gift, as a team of arborists volunteered to liberate the old ginkgo, our Ladytree, of the suffocating ivy. Another miracle.

Disaster averted.
2016 was the year where many citizens and businesses wrote their first hearing reply, for the small urban forest on the corner by the Natural History Museum. A forest completely shaved down on the architect's rendition. This made a huge difference in the local plan, where the City stated that all trees on the corner must be preserved in the new design.

This year also marked the end of a three-year long and intense fight for the Møllegade trees. The final outcome was that we managed to save the big corner tree, and that the project went from grey to green, with much more young trees.

And last but not least, Copenhagen finally got its first tree policy. That's a big one!

What's up for next year?
Tree map.
We need a tree map, there is no postponing it any longer. New York City just mapped all of their street trees, with the help of citizens. A tree map is an indispensable tool, we just have to make it happen. Maybe a project we can do in collaboration with the municipality?

The prep-team.
So many trees are killed in the construction phase. They enjoy insufficient protection, if any, and many sustain damages that will end up killing them over time. This can be avoided by prepping the trees before construction begins. We have suggested that the City creates a prep-team. This concept could be tested in the coming year.

Finally we need to find a way to develop our citizens group, so more of you can participate actively in the fight for the urban trees. We'll talk more about this next year.

Happy New Year!

December 29, 2016

Save the Urban Trees in CityLab

Our citizens movement is on CityLab today. We are talking about greedy real estate developers, our tree policy and our beautiful trees. Very cool piece, what a happy day.

Meget fin omtale af vores borgerbevægelse, i CityLab i dag. Om grådige bygherrer, træpolitik og vores dejlige træer.

Read it here.

December 24, 2016

A Christmas miracle!

The Christmas present for Save the Urban Trees is no less than a miracle: our citizens movement has spread to Aarhus in Jutland, where they are faced with similar problems as Copenhagen. Urban trees are an endangered lot, in urgent need of the citizens help. We must keep an eye on our trees, report impending danger and fight for their preservation and decent growth conditions.

Save the Urban Trees Aarhus (Red Byens Træer Aarhus) is on Facebook, and like us have a mirror blog (in Danish), so people on the other side of the fence can keep up. Now we just have to spread the word and let our Jutlandic friends know that we have moved closer.

Merry Christmas everyone.

December 17, 2016

New York City's Street Tree Map

New York City is kicking *ss, at the moment. Once they decided to plant a million trees, they followed through. No procrastination here. And now they just launched the tree map we are dreaming about: Open Tree Map.

In a joint effort between the city and the citizens all the city's street trees have been mapped. And, with the built-in itree software, both the economical and environmental benefits are counted with great accuracy. Counting among other things the absorption of rainwater, filtering of pollution and the reduction of CO2.

Measuring the benefits of trees is so important! It is only once they are visible and have a registered, measurable value that they can be counted on the same level as the rest of the infrastructure. With a clear value it is harder to neglect, abuse and fell street trees without serious consequences.

In the coming year we will fight to make our trees count. Now that the tree policy is in place, the time has come for Copenhagen to get its own tree map. Full steam ahead!
 Screendump from Archdaily..


November 23, 2016

A small urban forest on City Hall Square

The department for Technical and Environmental Affairs just approved the plans for the new City Hall Square. The Dragon Fountain will move to the center and return to its former glory, with a wider pool. Bikes get a new set of lanes and we get at small forest of sixty new trees.

Now we just hope that the trees get the space they need to thrive and survive, including the space below. In the municipality of Frederiksberg they have paid extra by the metro stations to create enough space below for the trees to grow big. Here's hoping the City of Copenhagen will do the same, so our young urban forest get the chance to survive.

It is such a positive development, that the urban nature is a part of the considerations now. Thank you so much for that.

Link to the article in Lorry (Danish): here

November 8, 2016

Alert in parks and forests!

We need to be very aware right now: The government wants to weaken the Forest Protection Act, by making it easier to build and develop in forests and parks. A proposal related to allowing for building along the coast line, a matter of making a profit on our precious shared nature.

A suggested change in the governments "Change of Forest Act" goes: "The Forest Act must not stand in the way of urban development or that of development in recreational areas".

We already know how much urban development are eating away at our nature as it is, only the park trees are really under any kind of protection, and that is about to disappear. This can't happen! We need to take care of our trees in forests and parks as well as those along the roads. They are vital to our survival.

A recent example of how important the Forest Protection Act is even in the city, is the new "Flying Carpet" on Israels Plads. Here the architects fantasized about letting the square eat a large chunk of the adjoining park, Ørstedsparken. This was minimized by the Danish Society of Nature Conservation, who fought to incorporate some of the biggest trees in the design. This was possible by adding a couple of large curves at the end. Had the architects had their way, as the government now plan for, these trees would not have been around today.

Just look at our old Ørstedsparken trees, in their glorious fall costume.

Read more about the proposal here (link). (In Danish, but you can always use google translate)
The petition for the Forest Protection Act here (link).

October 14, 2016

The Møllegade project

The final project is in, for the new square and the kindergarten Guldsmeden on the corner of Møllegade and Guldbergsgade on Nørrebro. Our two and a half years long fight. It looks after all like we are down to five trees preserved on the corner square (the big corner tree remains!). But, in turn they have gone from replanting five trees to what appears to be fourteen (!). That's huge.

This case has gone from being an under financed project set to be rushed through in record time, to one they had to reevaluate over and over again. Confronted with the consequences of their decisions. And finally they granted funds to rework the plan, preserve- and replant more trees.

The city has obviously listened to our critique, and replied with a much greener project. Just compare the two:

Before vs. now.

The preserved trees on the corner (above). The two preserved trees closest to the kindergarten is along with the one on the corner among the biggest.

Finally, there is the part of the project that concerns the kindergarten. Absorbing a couple of community garden lots. Two old apple trees are preserved here. This part of the project we didn't get involved with, as you have to choose your battles.

This has been an exhausting process, but looking at what we have achieved, it is so worth it. Not just for our Nørrebro corner, but for future projects where the city now know how important our urban trees are to us, and that you just don't cut them down and replace them with tiles.

Previous posts, two plus years of fighting for the Møllegade trees:

Read this and the posts above in Danish, on the mother blog here: Red Byens Træer.

October 11, 2016

The grand finale of Møllegade

Our two and a half years long fight with the city, over the 18 Møllegade trees, are coming to an end. The construction contract is currently up for bid, and following that the project will start immediately.

The case boiled down:
The city plans to make an open tile- and gravel square on the corner of Møllegade and Guldbergsgade on Nørrebro, currently home to a kindergarten, a fenced in recycling station and 18 big trees. From the very beginning we foresaw the path to total deforestation, but comments to the project were limited to a select following group, cherry picked by the city itself. Our input was not welcome.

As the planning began, the trees were labelled a risk, unhealthy and not worth preserving. A straight out lie that we later exposed, and that was unsupported in the material that we later got access to via the free access to information act. In fact, all the trees were deemed healthy and worth preserving. However, at this point the plan was set. Only three of the 18 existing trees were incorporated.

On the day of the political decision, we presented the case to the politicians and handed over the petition signed by (then) 2500 citizens, pleading for the preservation of our trees. However, the project was approved without vote.

The final result:
Since then we have tried to come up with alternative solutions, fighting for even a few more trees to be fit in. And it turns out that our fight has made a difference: The final project have gone from sparing only three trees to now six on the square. We get to keep five trees along Guldbergsgade, among those the big ash tree on the corner and the mirabelle tree in Møllegade.

The big, rescued corner tree, the four other spared trees on the left side and the mirabelle tree in the far right corner. (Final draft of the plan to be uploaded here, when it is made available by the city)

Every tree counts! Managing to rescue one on the biggest trees on the grounds is a huge success. It is painful to let go of so many big and healthy trees, but we must focus on what we achieved. And hope that the city have learned its lesson from the horrid case, so the pattern won't be repeated.

A heartfelt thank you to TV Lorry, Nørrebro/Nordvest Bladet and Magasinet KBH, for creating invaluable awareness about the fight for the Møllegade trees. And thank you so much to all those who have followed the case, shared, fought and signed the petition for our beloved trees.

Citizen engagement works!

Previous posts, two plus years of fighting for the Møllegade trees:

Read this and the posts above in Danish, on the mother blog here: Red Byens Træer.

August 31, 2016

Mission Mapletree update

Here is a greeting from our tree. For those unfamiliar with the story, here is a small recap:

Right before Christmas we learned that the Metro Company were about to fell a tree on a coming construction site, in Krauseparken on Østerbro. With short notice we managed to halt the felling and gain a few days to move the tree. There were no private takers, so the City took mercy on us and offered a planting site in Fælledparken. The citizens managed to raise the funds in record time, and we had the tree picked up and moved to its new location. Initially we thought it was a mapletree but it turned out to be an American ash tree.

Immediately following the move, insane storms broke out. Several trees around the country fell over, and the same happened to our ash. Only not in the worst way, it was the soil that slid in the hole. The City's park managers attached support straps so the tree gets a chance to grow the all important fine roots that keep it fed and upright.

It grew up in shelter of other trees, but has been relocated on a windy corner, so we just have to wait and see if it manages to establish the roots, before the windy season kicks in. The tree bloomed by the book, but obviously the crown is not completely full, like before the move. We are hoping it will catch up next year.

On the bright side there is no heavy traffic on or near the roots and it is planted in fertile soil, in safe distance from salt. All we asked for, was that the tree was given a chance, and that is what it got.

Look at our sweet tree!

The tree grew behind this fence, and this is what it looks like today.

Hooray for giving the beautiful tree another chance.

Read more about Mission Mapletree here

August 26, 2016

Outcry from Enghavevej

Outcry from a citizen about the trees on Enghavevej. The entire row along the bike lane pictured, are to be felled any day now, for a "Safe School Passage". Does it get any safer than this? Madness!
Foto and tweet Krisandthebike:
What does it take to save the trees? There is still time!

August 13, 2016

A prep-team

At our meeting in spring, with the mayor of trees and his department chief, I suggested that the City implement a prep-team that would prepare, protect and clearly mark trees on building sites. This idea has received strong support from arborists.

Mere recommendations to protect the trees won't cut it. The current instructions are too vague, are not enforced and there are no sanctions for damages to trees. Worst of all, serious damages to the trees can be hidden for decades, before a large tree will suddenly fall, as was the case in the tragic, lethal accident by Fælledparken. With what turned out to be a roadwork-damaged tree.

The City must realize that status quo won't work. They must be willing to acknowledge the problem and look for alternative solutions. Below a picture from the University of Copenhagen on Øster Farimagsgade, where they are currently remaking the entrance.

The old giants are "protected" with flimsy, easily moved fences and plastic string. While digging and pouring a foundation directly in the drip-zone. Maybe they know no better. But the City does, and there is no excuse for turning a blind eye any longer.

Below: Instructions from The Danish Railroad, about working near trees. And two slides from Oliver Bühler of the University of Copenhagen, from the Urban Tree Seminar "Protection of trees in the building process".

From folder to entrepreneurs and builder, (in Danish) "Folder til entreprenører".

Text reads: With big trees (over four meters) digging is not allowed within the drip-zone (directly below the crown) or closer than half the tree-height from the trunk.

July 11, 2016

Alert in Sydhavnen

New alert, this time in Sydhavnen. Where it seems impossible to create a safe school way without felling 34 big trees. Same crew behind the planned massacre in Møllegade on Nørrebro (15 trees).

In other big cities trees are used in a constructive way, to lower the speed and create safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists. In Copenhagen everything is flattened and we are served the classic: "don't worry, we'll replant." No mention of the fact, that the trees subsequently don't survive. Hush, now.


(sign reads)
The tree will be felled.
As a part of project Safe School Way in Sydhavnen we will fell in all 34 trees to create better conditions for cyclists and pedestrians.

We will replant 50 new trees, with better growth conditions, to last many years ahead.

July 3, 2016

Endangered trees by the Parliament

The brutal chunks of granite currently protecting the Parliament, are to be replaced with a different shape. And while they are at it, they have decided to remove the beautiful floor on the square,  Christiansborg Slotsplads. The old cobblestones will be replaced with pale granite, and the ten old trees will be removed. Again, we are told that the trees removed, will be resurrected on the opposite side. Along the canal, where there were once a row of trees. "We'll replant." Oh, sure.

Unbelievable that they haven't instructed the architects, to incorporate the existing trees. Such an easy thing to do!?

June 10, 2016

Inspirational Catalogue

In honor of Copenhagen's brand new Tree Policy, we plan to build a catalogue to inspire our politicians. A page to get acquainted with the best practices of other cities, preserving and protecting the street trees. And preferably set aside the funds to match them. We begin with Paris, shot in April and August.

New trees:
Newly planted trees have g i a n t fenced off cradles, with wild nature. Properly explained on several signs, informing and instructing citizens: mind this space, a tree is about to grow. Once it has settled in, the frame is removed, and the root zone protected with a grill, so the young roots are not suffocated in compressed soil. And naturally a fence is mounted around the trunk.

A beautiful, wild cradle for a newly planted tree. Paris in the August edition.

1: Building the cradle and fence. Then, the planting of the tree and proper signage. Paris in April.

2: Once the tree is settled in, the fence is removed. Paris in April.

3: The sidewalk is partly returned, a guard is placed in the root zone and a fence is mounted around the fragile young bark. Paris in April.

Brand new set up. Paris in April.

Mature trees:
The mature trees are protected as well, against traffic and parked cars. Beautiful, sculpted iron structures, designed to take the beating that would otherwise have caused irreparable damage to the tree.

In this case the grill not only keeps pressure away from the roots, it is also used to mount the parking and traffic guard.

Every other tree are guarded with iron structures, and as we can see the cars are pushing it to the limit. Without the guards, the trees would have been scraped and damaged by opening car doors, etc.

Brilliant grill, allowing for mounting of the car guard without digging in the root zone.

Another design that in this case saved an old plane tree.

Construction work:

It is not up for interpretation where you are allowed to dig and unload heavy objects and machines. Clear and respected boundaries!

In Paris the trees are rightly treated as a part of the infrastructure. As an investment and with great respect. This is what it takes for vulnerable street trees to survive and thrive. Nothing less.

June 6, 2016

The replanting excuse

"Don't worry, we will replant". This is the excuse used every time they fell big, viable street trees in Copenhagen. Usually because it is easier to fell the trees than incorporate them, or because a landowner have big plans for the space underneath them (cough: Carlsberg). Even the city uses that excuse, as we know it from the 15 big trees in Møllegade.

The canopy removed will not resurface in our lifetime. And in many cases trees felled in the urban space, is a permanent removal, as newly planted trees have near impossible conditions for survival. And this is why the life span of a newly planted street tree in Copenhagen is only seven years.

One of the big obstacles is congestion. The soil is so compact that the roots have no chance to settle in, before they succumb. The surrounding area is constantly being dug up and the space is shared with cables, fibres and pipes. The urban trees in Copenhagen enjoy zero protection from traffic and thoughtless behavior, the bark is damaged and the wounds weakens the trees, making them susceptible to rot and fungus. Not to mention how they are systematically salted to death.

By the lakes on Nørrebro a young tree have fought an uneven battle since it was planted in 2014. With zero protection of the small root zone or the trunk. It has survived endless bikes thrown against the bark and even inconsiderately hung election posters, but the final straw was an out of hand street party. The city has informed us that it will be left to wither.

Two years, it survived in the street.

Google streetview from 2014, of the small newly planted tree.

Throwing your bike against a severely wounded tree? Disrespectful!

An unprotected investment. Unworthy of any city.

May 30, 2016

Carlsberg Climbing Forest update

Waiver granted with six votes for - ACV - and five against (ØBF).

Meaning: permission to fell an entire urban forest granted by the following parties:
Socialdemokratiet, Konservative and Venstre.
Against: Enhedslisten, Radikale and SF.

A major loss for Copenhagen.

Save the Climbing Forest on Carlsberg. There is still time. (UP FOR VOTE TODAY)

In a brand new press release from the city, it seems there is still time to save the precious Climbing Forest on the Carlsberg grounds. They have already been granted permission to fell 27 trees marked as worth preserving, but now the city draws the line.

Morten Kabell (Cph Mayor of Technichal and Environmetal Affairs):
"...It is unproductive that Carlsberg keep cutting down the Copenhagen trees for profit. Instead Carlsberg ought to incorporate such a precious area to the new plans, so the Climbing Forest could continue to draw visitors to the area and bring joy to so many." (Rough translation by Sandra)

This is a plea to all our politicians to preserve the Climbing Forest.

May 12, 2016

Disaster averted

News are in about the plan for the expansion of the Natural History Museum on the corner of Øster Farimagsgade and Sølvgade. A lot of citizens and local businesses submitted hearing replies to the plan at the last moment, in an attempt to preserve the nature in the entrance area. And it has made a huge difference.

Where the first draft to the entrance area was flattened and grey, the newly adopted plan for the area states that five of seven bunkers must be incorporated in the design along with the old trees. By preserving the bunkers, the trees are saved too, as their roots are entangled in the foundation.

In the newly published material (available online as a pdf file, in Danish), the entrance area is mentioned on page fourteen. Among other things, it states:

* Existing trees must be preserved.
* The corners must remain shaped by trees.
* Existing bunkers by Sølvgade must, with the exception of bunker 60 and 61, be preserved.


Well fought, Copenhagen!

First draft for the entrance area, causing major concern.

 The area as it looks in the summertime.

From illustration no. 3, in the adopted plan for the area no. 532, for the Natural History Museum.


May 10, 2016

Free at last!

This is a fantastic day! The Ladytree, Sølund's old ginkgo have finally been liberated of the more than forty year old ivy, in a choke-hold that threatened to encapsulate the tree. Several arborists on the scene concurred that we had a max. of two years left, before the old tree would have withered and subsequently been felled.

Five men worked non-stop for a full day, peeling away decades of tentacles, to uncover the most amazing tree. What a present!

It turned out that there were no active birds nests, only two old crows nests in the crown. Neighbors stopping by said that there had been no bird song from there, for a long time. There are those who have been attached to the old ivy, saying it could easily have stayed put. None of which have been arborists. Those who make a living protecting and preserving trees, have unanimously expressed endless gratitude that the ivy is finally gone.

A heartfelt thank you to Morten & Rødderne and the friends from I.Climb, for the great gift to Copenhagen, the citizens and Save the Urban Trees.

Pictures from the big day.


 The ivy.


The ivy went into a wood chipper, and will be composted. A part of the free soil available to all on the recycling stations, when that time comes.