November 23, 2016

A small urban forest on City Hall Square

The department for Technical and Environmental Affairs just approved the plans for the new City Hall Square. The Dragon Fountain will move to the center and return to its former glory, with a wider pool. Bikes get a new set of lanes and we get at small forest of sixty new trees.

Now we just hope that the trees get the space they need to thrive and survive, including the space below. In the municipality of Frederiksberg they have paid extra by the metro stations to create enough space below for the trees to grow big. Here's hoping the City of Copenhagen will do the same, so our young urban forest get the chance to survive.

It is such a positive development, that the urban nature is a part of the considerations now. Thank you so much for that.

Link to the article in Lorry (Danish): here

November 8, 2016

Alert in parks and forests!

We need to be very aware right now: The government wants to weaken the Forest Protection Act, by making it easier to build and develop in forests and parks. A proposal related to allowing for building along the coast line, a matter of making a profit on our precious shared nature.

A suggested change in the governments "Change of Forest Act" goes: "The Forest Act must not stand in the way of urban development or that of development in recreational areas".

We already know how much urban development are eating away at our nature as it is, only the park trees are really under any kind of protection, and that is about to disappear. This can't happen! We need to take care of our trees in forests and parks as well as those along the roads. They are vital to our survival.

A recent example of how important the Forest Protection Act is even in the city, is the new "Flying Carpet" on Israels Plads. Here the architects fantasized about letting the square eat a large chunk of the adjoining park, Ørstedsparken. This was minimized by the Danish Society of Nature Conservation, who fought to incorporate some of the biggest trees in the design. This was possible by adding a couple of large curves at the end. Had the architects had their way, as the government now plan for, these trees would not have been around today.

Just look at our old Ørstedsparken trees, in their glorious fall costume.

Read more about the proposal here (link). (In Danish, but you can always use google translate)
The petition for the Forest Protection Act here (link).

October 14, 2016

The Møllegade project

The final project is in, for the new square and the kindergarten Guldsmeden on the corner of Møllegade and Guldbergsgade on Nørrebro. Our two and a half years long fight. It looks after all like we are down to five trees preserved on the corner square (the big corner tree remains!). But, in turn they have gone from replanting five trees to what appears to be fourteen (!). That's huge.

This case has gone from being an under financed project set to be rushed through in record time, to one they had to reevaluate over and over again. Confronted with the consequences of their decisions. And finally they granted funds to rework the plan, preserve- and replant more trees.

The city has obviously listened to our critique, and replied with a much greener project. Just compare the two:

Before vs. now.

The preserved trees on the corner (above). The two preserved trees closest to the kindergarten is along with the one on the corner among the biggest.

Finally, there is the part of the project that concerns the kindergarten. Absorbing a couple of community garden lots. Two old apple trees are preserved here. This part of the project we didn't get involved with, as you have to choose your battles.

This has been an exhausting process, but looking at what we have achieved, it is so worth it. Not just for our Nørrebro corner, but for future projects where the city now know how important our urban trees are to us, and that you just don't cut them down and replace them with tiles.

Previous posts, two plus years of fighting for the Møllegade trees:

Read this and the posts above in Danish, on the mother blog here: Red Byens Træer.

October 11, 2016

The grand finale of Møllegade

Our two and a half years long fight with the city, over the 18 Møllegade trees, are coming to an end. The construction contract is currently up for bid, and following that the project will start immediately.

The case boiled down:
The city plans to make an open tile- and gravel square on the corner of Møllegade and Guldbergsgade on Nørrebro, currently home to a kindergarten, a fenced in recycling station and 18 big trees. From the very beginning we foresaw the path to total deforestation, but comments to the project were limited to a select following group, cherry picked by the city itself. Our input was not welcome.

As the planning began, the trees were labelled a risk, unhealthy and not worth preserving. A straight out lie that we later exposed, and that was unsupported in the material that we later got access to via the free access to information act. In fact, all the trees were deemed healthy and worth preserving. However, at this point the plan was set. Only three of the 18 existing trees were incorporated.

On the day of the political decision, we presented the case to the politicians and handed over the petition signed by (then) 2500 citizens, pleading for the preservation of our trees. However, the project was approved without vote.

The final result:
Since then we have tried to come up with alternative solutions, fighting for even a few more trees to be fit in. And it turns out that our fight has made a difference: The final project have gone from sparing only three trees to now six on the square. We get to keep five trees along Guldbergsgade, among those the big ash tree on the corner and the mirabelle tree in Møllegade.

The big, rescued corner tree, the four other spared trees on the left side and the mirabelle tree in the far right corner. (Final draft of the plan to be uploaded here, when it is made available by the city)

Every tree counts! Managing to rescue one on the biggest trees on the grounds is a huge success. It is painful to let go of so many big and healthy trees, but we must focus on what we achieved. And hope that the city have learned its lesson from the horrid case, so the pattern won't be repeated.

A heartfelt thank you to TV Lorry, Nørrebro/Nordvest Bladet and Magasinet KBH, for creating invaluable awareness about the fight for the Møllegade trees. And thank you so much to all those who have followed the case, shared, fought and signed the petition for our beloved trees.

Citizen engagement works!

Previous posts, two plus years of fighting for the Møllegade trees:

Read this and the posts above in Danish, on the mother blog here: Red Byens Træer.

August 31, 2016

Mission Mapletree update

Here is a greeting from our tree. For those unfamiliar with the story, here is a small recap:

Right before Christmas we learned that the Metro Company were about to fell a tree on a coming construction site, in Krauseparken on Østerbro. With short notice we managed to halt the felling and gain a few days to move the tree. There were no private takers, so the City took mercy on us and offered a planting site in Fælledparken. The citizens managed to raise the funds in record time, and we had the tree picked up and moved to its new location. Initially we thought it was a mapletree but it turned out to be an American ash tree.

Immediately following the move, insane storms broke out. Several trees around the country fell over, and the same happened to our ash. Only not in the worst way, it was the soil that slid in the hole. The City's park managers attached support straps so the tree gets a chance to grow the all important fine roots that keep it fed and upright.

It grew up in shelter of other trees, but has been relocated on a windy corner, so we just have to wait and see if it manages to establish the roots, before the windy season kicks in. The tree bloomed by the book, but obviously the crown is not completely full, like before the move. We are hoping it will catch up next year.

On the bright side there is no heavy traffic on or near the roots and it is planted in fertile soil, in safe distance from salt. All we asked for, was that the tree was given a chance, and that is what it got.

Look at our sweet tree!

The tree grew behind this fence, and this is what it looks like today.

Hooray for giving the beautiful tree another chance.

Read more about Mission Mapletree here

August 26, 2016

Outcry from Enghavevej

Outcry from a citizen about the trees on Enghavevej. The entire row along the bike lane pictured, are to be felled any day now, for a "Safe School Passage". Does it get any safer than this? Madness!
Foto and tweet Krisandthebike:
What does it take to save the trees? There is still time!

August 13, 2016

A prep-team

At our meeting in spring, with the mayor of trees and his department chief, I suggested that the City implement a prep-team that would prepare, protect and clearly mark trees on building sites. This idea has received strong support from arborists.

Mere recommendations to protect the trees won't cut it. The current instructions are too vague, are not enforced and there are no sanctions for damages to trees. Worst of all, serious damages to the trees can be hidden for decades, before a large tree will suddenly fall, as was the case in the tragic, lethal accident by Fælledparken. With what turned out to be a roadwork-damaged tree.

The City must realize that status quo won't work. They must be willing to acknowledge the problem and look for alternative solutions. Below a picture from the University of Copenhagen on Øster Farimagsgade, where they are currently remaking the entrance.

The old giants are "protected" with flimsy, easily moved fences and plastic string. While digging and pouring a foundation directly in the drip-zone. Maybe they know no better. But the City does, and there is no excuse for turning a blind eye any longer.

Below: Instructions from The Danish Railroad, about working near trees. And two slides from Oliver Bühler of the University of Copenhagen, from the Urban Tree Seminar "Protection of trees in the building process".

From folder to entrepreneurs and builder, (in Danish) "Folder til entreprenører".

Text reads: With big trees (over four meters) digging is not allowed within the drip-zone (directly below the crown) or closer than half the tree-height from the trunk.