28 October 2013

Yes we totally can!

Here's the thing: I have set myself a goal that is deemed impossible by almost everyone I talk to. Give up, they say. One person can't make a difference. I will just have to prove them wrong, because there is no way I am giving up on the urban trees.

Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree

Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree. Not balding: the leaves were never there to begin with.

Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree

It is beyond me, how preventing and fixing this is not the highest priority of the city.

The goal, in two parts:
One: the city must cease salting the roads in the wintertime, and look to an alternative method of keeping them safe. It is done in cities like Stockholm and Berlin, where the use of salt is forbidden for this exact reason. If they don't, we will lose all our road trees, already withering in large numbers.

Two: the city must implement a tree plan. Other cities in Europe, even in Denmark, have one. In Copenhagen it is the wild west, besides the dying trees, healthy ones are cut down for any reason you can think of. Copenhagen trees are not mapped, and enjoy no special protection. The ground under them is hugely attractive to real estate developers, and a giant tree can be cut down and replaced by a twig, without any objection. This has to end!

I just wanted this on the record, as it is something that all started here on the blog, with the trees on the bunkers. I promise not to spam you with too much tree stuff, but if something major happens, you will know about it. 

The damage:
It was not until I saw the trees in Ørstedsparken that I fully realised what is missing. This young tree below never bloomed. And all the others like it down the road, and along many other roads in Copenhagen have been twiggy since spring. Crippled by salt, a damage that stays for years. Another hit may be the end of it.

Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree

Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree.

Suffering trees by the lakes in the summertime:

Damaged trees, summer

Left side: reasonably healthy, right side: dying. The poor trees never stood a chance. Same spot now:

Damaged trees, same spot in fall

This is one of many reasons that young urban trees don't make it past the age of seven: living conditions are impossible. How would anyone sustain life on a diet of saltwater, really? Last year you would still see larger patches of yellow leaves in the streets. Today there are almost none. People don't know what is missing because you don't see what you don't see. It needs to be pointed out.

The plan:
Only when people join efforts, push for and demand action, we stand a chance. So I will absorb knowledge on the subject, inform people, make the damage visible and gather support. Make some noise for our beautiful, suffering trees

I had a golden opportunity to talk about the oversalted trees and the city's bully tactics on urban oasis Sølund and ladytree, in the magazine Where2Go. It is available online as well, but only in Danish, here: link.

If you are in Denmark, and want to support the trees, I hope you will join me on Red Byens Træer. 

We can totally do this!



  1. I would not wager against you, Sandra. Plus, I don't think there's any wrong time to put sweaters on trees.

  2. Yay Sandra, the trees have gained a valuable lobbyist, one really great cause. You have my support, although there is not much i can do from here. Go Sandra!!!

    1. Oh, it is good to know you support me, even if it is long distance. Thank you Carole. : )

  3. Go, Sandra, go! Our municipality (outside of Montreal) uses little stones + sand instead of salt. It works fine. The salt is crap for the animals, trees and, if you really need to get their attention, the sewers (accelerated corrosion because of the salt). Hope the storm did not uproot too many old trees! xox

    1. Yes, this is the exact recipe they use in Berlin too, I am sure of it. I visited last winter, it was salt free, and people got along fine, without slipping. This also keeps the snow around, instead of the depressing dirty slush. Is there even a downside to it? It is probably even cheaper than salt.

      And, the storm was later upgraded to a hurricane and it finished so many trees. About 400+ in Copenhagen parks and cemeteries and along the lakes. Including really old ones, and five of the transplanted cherry trees. : ( It is a massacre.

      Even more reason to fight to preserve what is left. Hugs for you, Celena.

    2. Good luck Sandra on your various endeavors! I enjoy your blog, but this is the first time I am wading into discussion, in hope of helping trees. We need to find out what is used on the streets. Sodium chloride is the worst. Added sand helps, but has no melting effect, and it accumulates. Already better is calcium chloride, much less is needed, so although it is slightly more expensive per weight, it should be cheaper. Calcium magnesium acetate is way less toxic and less corrosive, and it has been used for decades on bridges, both to prevent corrosion, and to minimize environmental damage. But it is twenty times more expensive. On the other hand, car people should like it because it is less corrosive to cars. Urea is also less corrosive, but it pollutes the water. Also, some trees are more sensitive than others, so they might need extra protection. Please post info about what is used in Stockholm if you find out. Hopefully no snow will fall before the election dust settles :).
      Maja, Frederiksberg

    3. Hi Maja, this is so good, thank you! I just had a meeting with the The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, and we talked about salt too. I would love to know what they use in Skåne and Malmö, where I am told they don't use salt, and we share the same weather conditions. And I would like to know exactly what they use in Berlin. They are probably more than willing to share, as we all want the same thing: to spare nature.

      When I find out, I will definitely share it with you. And I will take your advice and add it to the list of suggestions. Even though I wrote this post recently, so much have happened since. We have a new mayor for the Trees and Traffic in Copenhagen, and he have told me that he agrees with me on the salt. It is probably too late to implement an alternative this winter, as they have already purchased the salt, but hopefully next year. Until then, I will still fight to protect the trees from the salt, with barriers, and see if we can make them use gravel/sand/something else on the fragile stretches, like the bike lanes by the lakes.

      Thank you so much for the good suggestions. : )


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