18 December 2015

Mission Maple Tree

While it is fair to call me a tardy blogger, I have been a really busy treehugger, with Red Byens Træer (Save the Urban Trees). Yesterday was a milestone for the citizens tree movement in Copenhagen. A sign of a new kind of democracy, with citizens leading by example.

Two weeks ago we learned that nine trees were about to be cut down in a park, for yet another metro line. Red Byens Træer contacted the Metro Company to see if any could be moved. Something that the city is reluctant to try and do not believe will work for big trees, despite evidence to the contrary. We met at the park, where a heartbreaking eight trees could not be saved. Some were simply too big to move, others were entangled in stupid floor lamps. What kind of moron deliberately place electric wiring in the root zone of a tree? Ugh!

The only tree that could be saved was a tall and beautiful 20 year old ash, that we at the time mistook for a maple tree, and that later initiated Mission Maple Tree (Mission Ahorn). 

The tree made the front page of a widely distributed local paper, with a plea for adoption, but there were no takers. The Metro Company handed us a deadline: Friday at 11AM it goes. That was last week. The night before my favorite park manager, allowed us to plant the tree on city soil in Fælledparken, but the city would not pay for the move. A nervewrecking twenty minutes before felling time, we managed to delay the deadline until Monday, leaving us the weekend to flash-crowdfund the move. By Saturday the citizens had pulled together and funded the move at 7500 DKR, expecting to save the tree before the deadline. 

Summer version by Google. Alle the trees in front and to the right are gone. Precious canopy cover lost.

Just as we thought we were home free, came the chock: a ramp needed to be built, and it was not, as we were misinformed, included in the moving cost. The Metro Company, missing the huge PR moment completely, would not assist us in any way. Best they could do, was to postpone felling one last time.

In another two days, we amazingly managed to raise the same amount again, to buy six tonnes of gravel, and the assistance of a paving and gardening company. Putting up signs, planning for the ramp, booking, coordinating, blocking parking spaces, everything had to work out, or we would lose the tree. And like magic, it did. Here is the big day in pictures:

Apart from that fence from hell, with everything properly coordinated, the move itself was smooth. Until we hit the streets, and had forgotten to factor in the low hanging Christmas decorations... The moving truck found a way out, but at Østerbro's busiest intersection we were sabotaged.

In black and white because: drama.

The amazing gardener, refusing to be beaten, jumped out of the truck, ran into the intersection and climbed the tree. Along with the treemover, they gently tied the crown down, and managed to just slip under the wire. Not a single honk from drivers, despite blocking the street for several lightcycles. Pretty cool, Copenhagen.

By some miracle I had chosen the right contractor for the assignment. Who else would have gone to this length? I am so grateful. Shortly after, we reached the destination. 

The damages were controlled.

And the tree lovered into its new home.

 Mission accomplished!

All that remains now, is to see how it handles the move. If it goes well, the city is... urged to admit, this could be a viable alternative to the senseless fellings. My dream is to create an urban forest of rescued Copenhagen trees. All with their own story, on a big map. Fingers crossed for the beautiful ash. I know it is a survivor. You can just tell.

Save the Urban Trees, blog (Red Byens Træer translated into English)


  1. Where there's a will, there's a way. Awesome story, awesome people!

    1. Oh, I am so happy that you like this story. It is really a groundbreaking moment for the tree fight in Copenhagen. We have shown each other that we can do anything, if we pull together. This is how change is created.

      We need this urban forest of rescued trees. And people (and businesses) can adopt one, in the sense they pay for the maintenance of the tree. If the city continues to be reluctant. Ha.

      There is nothing quite like saving a tree from being felled. It is a gift that keeps on giving. And in this case, if it survives the transplant, it will even outlive me. That makes me feel so good inside. : )

  2. That's an amazing feat! I would love to see annual updates of how your beautiful tree is growing.

    1. So much depends on the environment now. Of the thousands of trees this guy has moved, only a tiny percentage did not survive. If it only manages to re-establish the fine roots, it could be home free.

      I will follow the tree in all the seasons of course, and keep you updated. Fingers crossed for our tree!


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