December 20, 2017


The City of Copenhagen just announced that it will replace salt with the tree friendly alternative caliumformiat, on three green bike routes. The attached map with the added routes show a significant widening of area, affecting a large amount of trees. As it will spare the groundwater, dogs paws, pavement, footwear and bikes. Next year another three years of data will be added to the rapport, and as such enforcing the push to prioritize caliumformiat.

What a fine parting gift from our outgoing mayor of trees, thank you.

Picture from City Hall where I just made it in time to say goodbye and thank you for the trees. And on my way out found a fantastic urban forest with a roof of seagulls.

The map (pdf)
A busted myth (city finally admitting that salt is harmful to trees)
Salt vs. caliumformiat, Save the Urban Trees 2017

November 24, 2017

A busted myth

A harmful myth has finally been busted, in the case of the salted lake chestnut trees. We have been fighting a senseless claim that road salt are simply being washed out into the sewer system, without playing a part in the serious health issues of the street trees. Now a journalist have finally done what we hoped for, and investigated the issue, separating claims from facts. Reading up on the 109 page report, of a three-year study in urban de-icing, talking to the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management as well as the city administration and now we have it in print: Yes, salt is weakening our street trees, and the reason that salt is still used and admittedly weakening the lake chestnuts are solely a question of a lack of funding, to do what is best.

Front-page of Nørrebro Nordvest Bladet this week (Reads: Road salt stressing the lake trees). The article is also printed in Cityavisen.

This is huge! The politicians wanting to help the trees now have evidence to raise a suggestion to fund proper care for the trees. In the meantime we have had a local election and a turn on the green knob, towards a greener representation. The rest of them we will just have to fight so much harder to win over.

The mayor of trees and urban nature will continue on green hands, from next year with Ninna Hedeager Olsen (Ø), who already before the election invited us to a meeting about the tormented chestnut trees, when the unused funds from the budget are divided. The old chestnut trees must be spared salt, either by guarding them or replacing salt with caliumformiat, and the tree care team must be granted the funds for the three-year life prolonging plan in order for our old trees to stay as well as possible for as long as possible.

Here we ask our coming tree mayor (as it later turned out) on Twitter, if the missing funds can be found outside the budget of 2018. Answer: "Yes there is the budget transfer where the budget participants distribute unused funds. Lets meet and discuss the options." Second reply: "Thank you I am happy to meet up with you and learn more. I am new in the Technical and Environmental area - so I have a lot to learn."

The petiton will not be shut down until the trees are safe.

Links to more about the lake chestnuts and caliumformiat:

November 16, 2017

The Urban Tree Award 2017

Once a year the Danish Tree-care Union awards the Urban Tree Award at the University of Copenhagen: "An accolade for an extraordinary effort provided to secure- protect- or provide information about urban trees." Usually it is awarded hard-hitting pioneers and last year a city district, but this year they have bestowed the great honor upon Save the Urban Trees (Red Byens Træer, as we are called in Danish).

For: "Persistantly fighting to preserve valuable tree plantings in Greater Copenhagen and by this contributing to alert citizens to the value of urban trees in the local environment."

One of the city's gardeners approached me in the intermission with these words: "I don't think you quite grasp how big this is? This is the highest honor!" Slowly it sinks in. A heartfelt thank you to the Danish Tree-care Union for making such a brave and controversial choice, an invaluable support in the fight to save the urban trees. I promise that our movement will not rest on its laurels!


November 3, 2017

A piece of good news

Here is a piece of good news to start the weekend. The Winter Service stated that it is not possible to just mirror the cost of using caliumformiat on one side, to the other, so we asked them two questions: what then is the added cost of switching from salt to the safe alternative, and is it possible to include the loop by Fredensbro to the protective route, where seven old trees are currently skipped with catastrophical consequences?

The answer arrived today: The added cost for caliumformiat, for an average winter on the road side, is 85.500 kr. These funds must be added, otherwise it would entail taking the gentle solution from nature reserves (which no one wants). And then it is noted that switching to caliumformiat won't magically change that the trees are troubled by pavement and various diseases (which naturally no one believes).

And now for the good news: The Winter Service estimates that the loop makes such a small addition that it will be included in the protective route.

This could mean the difference between life and death for the seven old trees, so big that you can't even reach around them in a hug (yep, it's been tested). Granted there are still salt accumulated in the soil, but in time it will wash out. We can only hope that we made it in time. Now we just need the old tree closest to the heavy traffic on Fredensgade protected from street salting (if all else fails, we will do it ourselves).

Oh, this is just so good!

Probably the one spot in the city where the difference between salt and caliumformiat is most obvious.

 Latest picture.


Correspondance with the Winter Service about salt

Mail to Vibeke Vedel from the Winter Service and Service Chief in the City Maintenance Jon Pape, from Save the Urban Trees Oct. 20 2017.

Dear Vibeke and Jon,

Greetings form Save the Urban Trees, as we have in horror observed the development of the trees along the lakes that are still salted. This goes for the road side and the spot on the lucky side, by Fredensbro, where the caliumformiat route skips and the salt sets in. I have attached pictures and illustrations. I don't think this is done in evil, but because there is a lack of understanding of exactly how much damage is done by salting these exact stretches. The salt is not just flushed out into the sewer system, but rather accumulated in the soil, causing the trees immense damage. Several arborists have inspected the trees that are still salted and they all agree that is causing severe damage.

This is why we will attempt to make the politicians grant the funds needed for including the remaining lake trees to the caliumformiat route. In the hopes that we can keep our old trees a little longer.

Two questions:
What is the added cost of sparing the road side trees from salt?
Is it possible to add the loop* by Fredensbro to the caliumformiat route?

Kind regards
Sandra Høj
Save the Urban Trees

*The loop = See attached pictures of the stretch by Fredensbro.








Reply from the Winter Service, November 3rd 2017.

Dear Sandra Høj

Thank you for the inquiry of Oct. 20 2017 regarding the cost of using caliumformiat on Søgade-side along the lakes and the loop by Fredensbro.

The bike lane stretch along Søgade-side, where we are today using salt is approx. 8.550 m2. In the event that we need to use caliumformiat over salt it means an added cost of approx. 85.500 kr per season for an average winter (50 calls). Should we face a hard winter the m2 cost for the use of both salt and caliumformiat be doubled.

We have assessed the possibility of adding the loop to our caliumformiat route. As we are talking about a very smalle stretch, we find that this can be done. Which is why in the future we will spread caliumformiat by the Fredensbro loop.

As Jon Pape wrote you in a reply dated January 19 2017, we have been added funds so we can use caliumformiat on selected stretches. Here we have prioritized the use of caliumformiat where there is a special need for nature protection. We have not used caliumformiat on the stretches you are referring to here. Should we use caliumformiat on stretches like for example the Søgade-side, where we are today using salt, it would entail that we either reprioritise the stretches where we are today using caliumformiat, or it will mean an added cost to switch. As such, the distribution depends on further funding to finance the reorganization. It is worth noting that even if we were to switch to caliumformiat on the Søgade-side, the trees along the lakes are still facing hard living circumstances, due to disease and road work over time, affecting the roots, which switching to caliumformiat won't fix.

Again thank you for getting in touch.

Kind regards

Vibeke Vedel
Center for Bydækkende Drift
Byens Drift
Teknik- og Miljøforvaltningen

October 29, 2017

Battle plan for the lake chestnuts

We have now entered the winter season, and the tormented chestnut trees on the road side of the lakes have not been pardoned. The Winter Service even denies that the trees are affected by the salt at all. That it is simply flushed out into the sewer system, without causing any harm. It makes no sense. The city knows perfectly well that salt is poison and that caliumformiat makes a huge difference.

The reason for not protecting the lake chestnut trees: they are already having a hard time (!?!).

It is very hard to get employees in the city to contradict the management on this, as their livelihoods depends on obeying orders. This is why the pressure must come from the citizens, with nothing to lose (except the urban trees). If we as citizens don't protest, we will lose our lake chestnut trees much faster than need be. This will happen because the trees are denied life prolonging care and further the decay by salting.

This is what we can do right now:

1. Argue for the political board on their last meeting before the election, decide whether the funds for caliumformiat can be granted for the road side of the lakes. The Winter Service informs us that it will only be done by direct political order.*

2. Sign the petition for the funds, allowing tree care specialists to prolong the lives of the old trees, over the next three years, and for the salt to be replaced with caliumformiat on the above mentioned stretch.

*Made difficult by the fact that politicians consulting the Winter Service on the damages from salt on this stretch, are misinformed.

The other steps will be implemented if the first two don't work. To be continued...

Funny how the the trees are  suddenly useful come election spam time.
Sign the petition: Hjælp Søkastanjerne!

October 18, 2017

Good news for Assistensen

The Preservation Commission have spoken: The city is not allowed to use Assistensen cemetery for garbage, scrap and waste deposit. No more trucks on the old cemetery, already marked by the heavy traffic.

A heartfelt thank you to our friends from Miljøpunkt Nørrebro and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, for the fight.

Picture: The line in the cobblestones marks the old gate, from before it was widened for trucks.

Today's good news in Nørrebro/Nordvest Bladet: here (Danish).

October 12, 2017

The lake chestnut trees in Lorry

Thank you so much Lorry, for talking about the lake chestnut trees. The winter season starts on November 1st, so if the salt is to be replaced, it is last call. The people who care for the trees should get the funds they applied for, for the three-year plan to extend the lives of the old trees. Sign here if you want to help.

(Reads) The crown jewels of the lakes under pressure: they are salting them to death.

Citizens movement fights city to make them stop salting along the chestnut trees lining the lakes. 

Link to article in Lorry (Danish)

October 7, 2017

Petition: Help the Lake Chestnuts

The old lake chestnut trees are fighting to stay alive, and need our help urgently. The city of Copenhagen not only denied the department funds for a plan to prolong their lives, but also continue to use the toxic salt on the roadside of the lakes, to save money. This can't go on.

The trees on the roadside are now so weak that they are continuously being felled for safety reasons. The many holes in the row and the burnt canopies, says it all. The citizens are the last hope. For this reason, we have started a petition to make the city fund the departments plan to care for the trees, and to stop the salting of the road side trees, effective immediately.

 (this is translated in another post, here)

Caliumformiat is used on one side, salt on the other.

The winter service informs us that an average winter season with caliumformiat costs 140.000 dkr, on this stretch. Caliumformiat is exactly twice the cost of salt, meaning the added cost of switching is 70.000 dkr. If the City of Copenhagen refuses to switch, we must insist that the old trees are in some way shielded from the salt. We request political action now!

Sign here (Danish): Hjælp Søkastanjerne!

September 27, 2017

An improvement

Who remembers the poor Hofor-bashed street trees on Frederiksborggade? Just look at them now. Thank you, Copenhagen!

Before and now. Not the exact same tree, but same row and same treatment. Ah, what an improvement.

September 24, 2017

Lake chestnut alarm!

To keep it short, all you need to do is look at the attached pictures. The old chestnut trees lining the center lakes on the road side, are fighting to stay alive. The many holes and small "replacement" trees speaks volumes on the gravity of the issue. Another tree just died and the others are close behind it. They are still salted in the winter, and the funds that the managers had requested in the budget for urgent extra care and monitoring (1,5 mill. dkr/approximately €200.000 or US$240.000, including a citizens involvement process, or even less with just the plain care), were not granted. See the attached screenshot.

These funds must be granted to provide the urgent extra care of the lake chestnuts. And: salting must be stopped immedeately on the road side of the lakes. Otherwise we lose our trees.

Should we launch a petition?

Screenshot from the budget notes below, where the management ask a small amount for extra care.

Highlighted in yellow: "..need for intensified monitoring, care and pruning of the trees. And: "Until the trees are replaced, for security reasons extra care and monitoring is needed." In red: "Not granted."

(Full text:) With this budget note financing is requested for three initiatives, supporting the renovation of the inner lakes surroundings.

1. Intensive monitoring and care of chestnut trees in 2018-2021 plus citizen involvement process regarding the replacement (1,5 mill dkr cost). The chestnut trees around the lakes are weakened by age, pests and disease. There have been cases of large branches of trees breaking off, endangering citizens, and several trees are felled every year. For security reasons and to keep the notable trees as long as possible there is a need for intensified monitoring, care and pruning of the trees. Furtermore the future kind of trees must be more robust. The management discourages chestnut trees as this species are prone to attacks from disease and pests. Possible new tree species taking over as the prominent tree around the lakes could for example be silver maple, tulip tree or bird cherry tree.

The management will include the citizens and local councils in the process of replacing he trees and electing the replacement species, to secure the higest level of ownership to the major change a replacement will be. Following the council will receive a proposal for a replanting plan. Until the trees are replaced, for security reasons extra care and monitoring is needed.

September 16, 2017

Zero funding. Again.

Our representatives in the city council just distributed 3,7 billion crowns in the budget for 2018. And how much went to our tormented street trees? 0.- Again.

All parties enter the negotiations with their own agenda. Be it bikes, parking, business, elderly or children. Forgetting entirely the one thing we all share: urban nature. And they fail the assignment with immense and unpredictable consequences for the city's green infrastructure. A let-down reaching far into the coming generations.

We are short of resources to keep better watch of the street trees. Needing more hands and eyes. The street trees must be mapped. We need an investment in more of the alternative deicing caliumformiat, before salt kills all our street trees. Living conditions for existing trees must be improved (there is a will and a way, but no funds), and the oldest and most tormented trees are in urgent need of extra care. Exposed street trees must be protected like in other big cities. The list goes on.

But, despite a new tree policy, the street trees and existing nature is still invisible in the budgets. Not even the utmost urgencies are funded. Among those the tortured old chestnut trees along the lakes, once again skipped, despite the highly critical state making it downright irresponsible to ignore (we'll cover that in a separate chapter).

In the "green" part of the budget it states that for street cleaning, party handling and clean toilets alone, over 40 millions are set aside. Cleaning is prioritized over urban trees and nature to the extent that the gardeners (!) are now sweeping the city. As in: removed from the task they have trained for and been hired to perform. In return, street sweepers are transferred to park duties. Where they are free to do irrepparable harm, as they don't have the necessary skill set. This is how our city prioritizes.
Can we agree to ask better of our new representatives up for election for 2018?

The "green" part. Reads: A greener and cleaner Copenhagen. Copenhagen's green solutions and bike-culture inspires the world. Copenhagen will continue to be one of the world's best bike cities, and we strive to become CO2-neutral in 2025. Copenhagen will also become a cleaner city. With budget 18 we are setting aside funds for even better bike conditions, increased cleaning of the city and greener buses. (2.710 tonnes of garbage in the streets of Copenhagen in 2016)

Links (all in Danish):

September 13, 2017

Good news disguised as bad news

Yesterday, we read in Politiken about how our city use Assistensen as a dump site. Today, Nørrebro Nordvest Bladet picks up the baton, asking the city's administration some hard questions. Tonight it is in Lorry TV. The fight for the nature reserve Amager Fælled is fought for and intensely covered in the media, and "green" is slowly becoming more than just a tired metaphor for maintenance and energy-efficient lightbulbs.

The good news? The media has been talking about the urban nature and urban trees like never before. We only have to go back about five years, before this scenario would have been unheard of. We see major progress and it is all because of the citizens stepping up. We need our urban nature, and our urban nature needs us.

Good job, Copenhageners!

Greetings from Assistensen.


September 12, 2017

Dump site on Assistens Cemetery?!

We need good tree news at this point, not more bad. But there are things going on at Assistens Cemetery that we need to discuss. The city has for a prolonged period of time, used a chunk of the city's oasis as a dump site. A place for smaller vehicles to discharge trash and for huge trucks to pick it up in big containers.

This creates heavy traffic that the cemetery and its alleys are not made for, and that have already caused irreparable damage to the old trees. With severe damages to the bark, torn branches and the massive pressure to the roots.

The local environmental office Miljøpunkt Nørrebro and the local branch of the Nature Conservation Organization in Denmark, DK København, have reported the city to the national conservation agency (Fredningsstyrelsen), to put a temporary halt to the damages. But the city now seeks dispensation to continue to use the area as a dump site. It is hard to believe. Using a cemetery and the most famous and beautiful oasis in Copenhagen as a dump site? It ends now!

Danish newspaper Politiken is on the case: link. (Danish)

September 9, 2017

Salt vs. caliumformiat

Leading up to the local elections in November, we will focus on our tormented street trees, of which the lethal salting plays a crucial part. Salt is poison to all living organisms and the damages are thoroughly documented: the salt is collected in the soil and dries up the roots, causing stress in the tree, deformity at the crown and in the end it withers and die. There is a viable alternative to salt, called caliumformiat. Short-term it is exactly twice the cost of salt, but long term it is an investment with a solid return. The question is if we want trees lining our streets and roads, or not? If we do, salting along street trees must stop. It simply must be a political priority.

In other big cities around the world, salt has been abandoned long ago. In Berlin they even hand out steep fines to land owners, if they use salt. It is that serious. Meanwhile in Copenhagen, the trees are systematically killed, to save on cost. By the lakes you see the staggering difference between the two de-icing solutions, as one side (only) have been tested with caliumformiat since 2010. An attached map of the route reveals a small skip, easily read on the unlucky trees. Take a guess which trees in the pictures below have been subjected to salt.

Or just take a stroll through the city and read the damages in the burnt leaves, dead parts and crippled crowns. This is how damaging salt is. The money saved by using salt, ultimately is a costly affair.

Take a guess where the salting vehicle makes a loop...

Here is the gentle route for the lakes, in red:

And a close up at the telling loop, where the caliumformiat skips.

Here are the trees at the same point, seen from a different angle. The first in the row of spared are even burnt on the salt side. It is a cry for help. Echoed by the photographer while shooting, I might add.

Below the two sides of the lake, as seen from Dr. Louises Bridge. Unsalted first.

Tormented horse chestnut trees. Vulnerable due to pavement and compressed soil and the final nail in the coffin: salt.
It is absolutely possible to make more routes with caliumformiat. Like for example bike lanes, typically lining the trees. No one is asking the city to leave out all salt at once, everywhere, at the estimated cost of 50 million crowns. But to continue the salting of our street trees, will be the end of them. It is that simple.