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.

September 4, 2017

Street trees, the stepchildren of Copenhagen

If you are wondering why the Copenhagen street trees are looking so miserable and deformed, here's a good indication why. This time it is Hofor, at it on Frederiksborggade.

It is uncomfortably clear that the city at road work, despite our pleas, still don't place conditions or keep watch over the street trees. If damages are even caught, they can take up to six weeks to mend and have no consequence whatsoever.

Hard to grasp that a city with a surplus in the billions can't manage to take better care of its street trees. Unacceptable!