October 12, 2017

The lake chestnut trees in Lorry

Thank you so much Lorry, for talking about the lake chestnut trees. The winter season starts on November 1st, so if the salt is to be replaced, it is last call. The people who care for the trees should get the funds they applied for, for the three-year plan to extend the lives of the old trees. Sign here if you want to help.

(Reads) The crown jewels of the lakes under pressure: they are salting them to death.

Citizens movement fights city to make them stop salting along the chestnut trees lining the lakes. 

Link to article in Lorry (Danish)

October 7, 2017

Petition: Help the Lake Chestnuts

The old lake chestnut trees are fighting to stay alive, and need our help urgently. The city of Copenhagen not only denied the department funds for a plan to prolong their lives, but also continue to use the toxic salt on the roadside of the lakes, to save money. This can't go on.

The trees on the roadside are now so weak that they are continuously being felled for safety reasons. The many holes in the row and the burnt canopies, says it all. The citizens are the last hope. For this reason, we have started a petition to make the city fund the departments plan to care for the trees, and to stop the salting of the road side trees, effective immediately.

 (this is translated in another post, here)

Caliumformiat is used on one side, salt on the other.

The winter service informs us that an average winter season with caliumformiat costs 140.000 dkr, on this stretch. Caliumformiat is exactly twice the cost of salt, meaning the added cost of switching is 70.000 dkr. If the City of Copenhagen refuses to switch, we must insist that the old trees are in some way shielded from the salt. We request political action now!

Sign here (Danish): Hjælp Søkastanjerne!

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!

July 30, 2017

Come on, Copenhagen!

Shared by a citizen. Come on, Copenhagen. We can do this!

June 23, 2017

A plea for the old plane

Mailed to investors and responsible for the felling, FH Management, Friday June 23, 2017. and

Dear Michael and Flemming,

Thank you for a nice phone conversation, Michael. As agreed upon, here is a mail with a little more information.

My name is Sandra Hoj and I am the founder of the fast growing citizen's movement Red Byens Træer. Our focus is on limiting the loss of urban trees and finding better ways to protect them. This is achieved by keeping a good dialogue with among others the city, politicians, professionals, developers and citizens. One of our milestones were the implementation of a Tree Policy in the city of Copenhagen.

Wednesday the Copenhageners were chocked to learn that the old plane, located on the land between Søllerødgade and Nørrebrogade, were being cut down. It is one of the area's last of this size. It was said that the city had ordered it because of the sewer, but the city denied such an order. The city have not demanded or even recommended such an action. The park manager is distraught as well. As we midway through the felling exposed doubt that this action was even called for, we contacted Kaj Thougaard and asked if we could have a little time to find a possible alternative, and saving the tree.

This time was granted on the condition that we pay for the cost of delaying the felling. The tree team corrected the cuts so the tree will be able to survive in the current condition. Plane trees are tough so our park manager for the area is optimistic about its prospects, should we be so lucky that you take mercy on it.

Kaj arrived on the spot and provided the contact information to the plummer Gravmand in Birkerød, who had inspected the sewer lines with TV. Here Steen Andersen explained the problem: that the leaking lines attract the roots, so they enter. Asked if there is a solution that would spare the old tree, he told us that cleaning the lines from the inside and then lining them, is a viable option. A quick estimate/worst case scenario was 47.000 DKR plus moms. He called the solution good and lasting.

I don't know what kind of expense you have calculated by exchanging the pipes? The felling alone is 22.000 DKR. We are happy to fight for the funding of the difference in cost. It can't be money standing in the way for the solution that would allow the old tree to survive.

The old plane tree is dearly loved. Not just by the neighbours and the children in the adjoining kindergarten and playground, but by all Copenhageners. Nature experts mourn the imminent loss of biodiversity and fauna, which also affects the animal life. The value of a beautiful old tree can be measured on so many levels. And can't be replaced in less that 100+ years.

I hope this was not too long. And hereby plead with you to take mercy on the old tree and let it live.

Kind regards
Sandra Høj
Red Byens Træer

June 21, 2017

200 year old tree in danger on Nørrebro

This morning a citizen's alert sounded on Nørrebro: In a backyard between Søllerødgade and Nørrebrogade, they began cutting down one of the last big yard trees in the area, the 200 year old plane tree. At first word was that it was by request of the city, due to rats in the sewer system. The neighbours contacted the city and was told in uncertain terms, that the city had neither recommended nor demanded the fellling of the old tree.

We arrived up at the scene, got in contact with the land owner and explained that there may have been a miscommunication, asking if we could have some time to try and save the tree. The only way that was going to happen was if we agreed to pay for the delay. A sum that could amount to 10.000 DKR. It was that, or the felling would continue. The undersigned agreed, under pressure (and he wanted that in writing, so here you are).

The city
The park manager were equally distraught to see the tree cut down, but as it is on private property, the city has not allowed itself any say in the matter. The tree team was hired to cut down the tree, remove it and grind down the roots. They stopped the felling and adjusted the cuts so the tree has a chance to survive.

The problem
The land owner showed up and reported that it was not the city but the sewer company that had recommended felling. We called him up. It turns out that the sewer is leaking, and the water deprived tree seeks towards the pipes and enter them. This has been established by TV equipment in the pipes. But is felling the only solution? No.

The solution
It turns out that the problem can be solved in a far less invasive way, by sewer lining: clearing out the roots from the inside and lining it to prevent leaking. It is a real alternative and compared to the cost of felling not even that much more expensive. It has simply not been prioritized. Land owner and investor have just chosen the shortest way from A to B, at no time taken into consideration how incredibly valuable this tree is to neighbours, the kindergarten and the coming inhabitants of their newly built real estate. The area is extremely dense with very few green patches and trees.

What is next?
The felling is temporarily put to a halt. We have very little time to hear the neighbours in the adjoining buildings if they would be ready to pay the difference, in lining the sewer on this short stretch. Worst case it would cost 47.000 plus moms. It they agree it is up to the land owner and his investors if they are willing to meet the neighbours halfway and agree to the alternative.
If they decline we need to fund the 10.000 DKR for delaying the felling. But there is no reason why this tree should not survive. It has been cut, but it is still alive and will be able to live for a long time. With a little help.

To be continued.

Young boy from the kindergarten looking on from the spot where the children used to nap outside in the shade of the tree.

Blackbird inspecting the damage from the spot where neighbours say it sings the sun down at the exact same time every night.

So a water deprived plane tree makes a dent in the floor. We will survive, don't you think?

June 19, 2017

Update on Mission Mapletree

Greetings from the citizen's rescued American ash tree that was in the path of a metro construction site. Initially we all thought it was a maple three, hence the name of the mission. By coming together the citizens managed to fund the move in record time, and the tree was transplanted in Fælledparken.

A move made possible by the funds collected from citizens and the coordinated effort by the gardener, the gravel company and the tree mover. The city took mercy on us and provided the soil in Fælledparken, where the crown today is full and much more dense than last year. The roots seem to have gotten a good grip.

As it grew up in the shelter of bigger trees and have been moved to a windy spot, support straps have been attached. Once they are removed, we will see if it can survive on its own. Our beautiful tree.

Read more about Mission Mapletree here (link).

June 1, 2017

A syrup guard

At last year's Distortion (street party) Nørrebro lost two young trees. One was completely broken, the other halfway so. They were both replaced. This time we reminded the city about the risk for these exact trees in the very epicentre of the party. Hoping they would learn from the past and take steps to protect them in some way. But alas.

You sort of knew though, which is why the trees in an improvised measure, were covered in sticky syrup. In the hope that this would deter people from grabbing the trunk and breaking it. There is no knowing if it made a difference, but today both trees were still alive. And on the support strap on one of the trees were a lead to how the last one died: a heavy print of a shoe. Apparently, people climb the support pole, balance on the strap and use the tree for support. All it takes is poor balance, for a heavy person to take the tree with them in the fall, thereby breaking it. Mystery solved.

Why is it that the city refuse to learn from past behavior? When we all know which trees are most exposed? So frustrating!

Pictures of last year's damages and this year's syrup guard.

April 5, 2017

Sneak peek at Møllegade

The square on the corner of Møllegade and Guldbergsgade is almost ready. Thousands of citizens have fought for the trees we have left, at with that an addition of young trees, instead of the planned tile and gravel. We have lost an unbearable amount of old trees. A leaf mass and biodiversity that will not reappear at the same place in our lifetime. But with the many new trees one can only hope that the corner one day will become an oasis for the next generation of Copenhageners.

Møllegades beautiful harbinger of spring, the mirabelle tree, is abloom.

The swapping shed, where the three ash trees stood.

 The island in the center is for the new trees at the right of the picture.

The new, young ones. Fingers crossed they will feel at home here.

 A decent size. Welcome to Nørrebro. <3

The shed that just couldn't be moved back from the wall, to spare three ash trees.

Parts of the old wall have been preserved and made into benches. A good way to spare the trees. The less the soil around the trees are disturbed, the better.

It's spriiiiing!

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.