13 February 2013

To arms

The green spots of Copenhagen are disappearing fast. What can we do to preserve what is left? First, we can look at why the trees are cut down.

Some are sick.
Among other things disease travel with the young trees imported from tree nurseries. How is that for irony? If we were not so busy cutting down healthy old trees to replace them with young, the risk just might decrease. Other trees are weakened by pollution and things like heavy salting during winter. I was just in Berlin, where they used gravel on sidewalks instead of salt. Just as fine, but not as damaging to the environment. Incidentally the Berlin trees are huge, healthy and plenty. Why be stuck in our ways, when they are not working for us? How about we rethink that?

Then there are the major construction projects.
The most damaging one is currently the new metro line, and in this case someone actually came up with a solution. Jørgen Dahl Madsen rescues trees, and relocates them for the cost of the transportation. Using a tree transplanting machine that gently lifts the tree by the roots, preserving the base, so it can be replanted somewhere else.

Halfway in during the cutting down of the 80 famous Kings New Square trees "Krinsen" (you can spot them behind Bert here), he managed to stop the process and rescue the remaining 52. So far, he is up to a total of 300 relocated "metro trees", bringing new life to school yards, kindergartens and backyards, and he has created a small forest of 100 trees in the windblown Ørestad. I hope I get the chance to document one of these rescues myself one day, but for now I have borrowed his own images:

Removal on Kongens Nytorv/Kings New Square, Krinsen.

In transit.

The transplant.

I am torn between being deliriously exited that it can be done, and incredibly frustrated that we are still cutting down trees that could have been rescued by this method. This should be the only option when dealing with healthy trees. Transplanters comes in all sizes, the city should invest in a fleet, and put our savior of the trees in charge of operating them.

The flatteners and the profiteers:
Which brings me to another issue. Don't allow the architects to flatten our landscape, but instruct them to implement trees that have been part of the cityscape for hundreds of years. Like the ones by the farmers market (see previous post). There was no reason why these trees could not still have been around. If it meant narrowing the space between the glass houses slightly, then so be it. Preserving majestic old trees should be prioritised. We can't leave that call up to a greedy real estate developer, and expect him to do anything, but what lines his pockets. He should be ordered to respect our trees. And he deserves our wrath for robbing us of something so precious. I am not in a forgiving mood.

I have to show you this one. Perhaps to boost the image of Copenhagen as a green city, they have made this set of trees on wheels, to be pushed around for the perfect photo op.

Trees on wheels

I can't... I can't... find the words.

Since I have brought this subject up, I am approached by people who share my concern. Some have documented old trees being cut down to make space for parking. The examples keep pouring in, indicating that the problem is big and pressing. I would suggest that the city appointed an advocate for the trees. Someone to keep an eye on new projects, who could step in and ensure that the remaining vegetation is properly protected.

Here we go again.
Currently the city plans to demolish the only 30 year old retirement home Sølund, just around the corner from me, destroying everything that grows there, including rare and giant trees. And, by the lakes a row of ancient chestnut trees are in danger of being cut down, to make room for... asphalt. I beg you?

If you have any ideas how to turn this around, please leave a comment, we need all the help we can get. Also, we have made a group on facebook, where you can come up with suggestions, report endangered city trees and keep up with the latest news: Red Byens Træer (in Danish).

Maybe we can make a difference? We have to try. 




  2. Hi Sandra, I've been reading briefly about Sølund and found these two things:

    'Bevaringsværdige træer bør søges respekteret.
    Lokalplanlægning varetages af:
    Københavns Kommune, Center for Bydesign.
    Behandling af byggesag og bygningsmyndighed
    Københavns Kommune, Center for Byggeri.

    Det er et ønske at så mange som muligt af de
    eksisterende store træer bevares, men funktionen
    af det fremtidige plejehjem vægtes højere end
    bevarelse af de eksisterende træer.'

    I think, that first it is important to get some statement from Copenhagen city, what they actually mean by this, how many trees are they planning to destroy etc. Than it will be important to show people why it is good to protect the old trees and show the city that we care (probably more than they do). I think that it might be an idea to suggest them to transplant the trees (give them a chance to keep the face) or maybe find some other solution.
    It would help to get involved with some NGO's who are interested, people who are educated at environmental studies, ecology, lanscape architecture etc. And then show to as many people as possible. Make the trees visible:-)
    I'm having hundreds of ideas, this is just a quick brainstorm...:-D
    I think that it is not possible to change the system now, but it's important to fight battles and hope for getting public on the trees side:-D

    1. Hi Gabriela,

      Thank you so much for this effort. The thing about the well intentions, and "we would prefer if the original trees were preserved", is that they are just words. They said the same thing about the lot by Torvehallerne (I found the document online), but once they destroyed the trees, it was just "oh, well".

      In the case of Sølund, it is extra strange because the houses are to be built where the trees are now. There is no way to keep them around. They have a meeting by the end of this month, that I will attend and ask about the trees. I have also talked to the tree rescue man, and he said he would look into it. Some of the rare trees are tall as houses, I don't think they can be moved. And the time to move trees is apparently in fall, maybe they start demolishing before that. I will get to work on this right away.

      Your advice is so spot on, I will take all of it. :-)

  3. What the h... can we do? Makes me sad. Really.

  4. Tree Alert - I stopped by the Østerbro library yesterday. All the nice big trees in front were chopped down . What a pisser.

    1. Someome else told me this on the facebook page, I don't go to Østerbro very often, so I hadn't noticed. Just talked to the "parkforvalter", and he explained that the trees were fine, but could not grow any bigger, due to poor space/growth conditions. So they chopped them down, made a better foundation and planted new ones.

      It still kills me. So what if they didn't get any bigger, they were fine, right? But that is not how they see it. He seemed like a very nice guy, taking his time explaining things to me, and we both love trees, no doubt, I am just more emotional about preserving the existing trees.

  5. Hey! I have just moved to Copenhagen and already noticed how many trees are being cut down- It's awful! If I can be of any help, please let me know. :) Katie.

    1. Hi Katie, I am glad you noticed. I have talked to the guy in charge, and we agree that trees are good for the city, but when it comes to preserving the old trees, he is not as sentimental. He is thinking thirty years ahead, removing old to plant new. And my concern is the quality of air and life for the next thirty years.

      If we can make some noise, maybe we can make them rethink that approach. Let some of the old ones stay, better the living conditions any way we can, and my biggest concern of all is the new projects, where land developers are allowed to cut down anything they please, including huge and healthy trees. That should be forbidden. Making room for parking is NOT a valid excuse.

      If you are on facebook, you can join us here: Red Byens Træer


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