January 13, 2017

Urine damages up close

The purpose of this movement has always been to identify the reason that we are losing our urban trees, and subsequently work to minimize the damages. No department and no one person is sacred, in our search to learn how to better protect our trees.

Now it turns out there is something we do ourselves that damage the most vulnerable trees: peeing on them. One wonders why no one have talked about this before. That it takes the death of two giant old trees, succumbing to the strain of years of relentless urination.

We are not talking about random drips but rather certain exposed trees, systematically being soaked year in and year out at the exact same spot. This was the case by the two 100 year old linden trees by the Round Tower, felled this week. Their bark porous and bleached by ammonia damages all the way into the cambium, in the peeing-zone. This has been weakening the trees to the degree where they were no longer able to sustain the branches with life, or keep rot, fungus and disease away.

Once you know that urine is bad for trees, you stop subjecting them to it. Simple as that. The discussions about lack of public toilets, belong elsewhere. Nor is this an attack on men, as none of us up until now even knew how damaging this was. The information was lacking.

By the Round Tower there is one younger tree left, already showing signs of urine damages, so we need to come together to find a solution to protect that and the rest of the urine-endangered trees. This is especially urgent once we enter the summer months. Do we need small fences? Controlled ivy? Signs? We need to solve this ugly problem. If we put our heads together, we can do it.

Here are pictures of the urine damages to the newly felled linden trees by the Round Tower. Plus a cropped piece of an article about (dog)urine damages on trees, explaining the process.

From an article about damages from dog urine, in CityLab 2012. Even they had a hard time finding documentation on the subject, despite the fact that it is a huge problem for urban trees. It is about time we talk about this. 

You may be reading this from another part of the world. Do you have similar problems where you live? And if so, how do you go about protecting the trees? If you have any ideas about how to prevent this kind of damages, please leave a comment, or drop us a line. The urban trees need all the help they can get.

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