The asphalt jungle

Et copy/paste fra det indlæg på Classic Copenhagen, der blev startskuddet på Red Byens Træer.

Calling Copenhagen a green city is nothing but a marketing strategy. A closer look reveals a set of very different priorities. For instance, urban vegetation is the first to go when a new plan is set in motion. The unprecedented eagerness to destroy and build from scratch is tearing Copenhagen up and leaving it as an unattractive asphalt jungle. And they move fast. I have split this subject into two posts, this one will be highlighting the problem, the next will address possible solutions. Here we go:

The Farmers Market (Torvehallerne):
Remember how joyful it all was, back when we heard that the farmers market was finally returning? Here is what the square looked like before:

Look at the beautiful old trees. The real estate developer Jeudan were encouraged (but not obligated) by the city to preserve the vegetation, and they did put on a show for a while, sparing the old trees. You can even follow the progress of the construction site in aerial view (link), on their own website.

If you click on the link, try scrolling down and enlarge these two pictures: 
October 2010: Vegetation is still around, they are even describing how beautiful the trees are in fall.
December 2010: All gone! No mention of them again.


By opening day, the old trees were replaced with young twigs, so skinny that they are barely visible on this picture. Bean counters logic: a tree is a tree.

(PS! It gets a lot worse, just wait for it)

I contacted Jeudan to ask why they initially preserved our old trees, just to cut them down in the end? The answer: "The old trees were removed, and replaced with new ones". Move to strike as non responsive. Any further attempts to reach someone in the administration was shut down. This runaround tactic tells us that they know they are in the wrong. But nobody calls them on it. So next time they take a bite out of our city, and they are big eaters so you know they will, they are bound to repeat this behavior.

But it doesn't stop there. No sooner had they finished (!) the farmers market, before the next big project was launched. Right across is Israels Plads, playground, fleamarket and urban oasis. This is when it gets really ugly.

Israels Plads:
The city of Copenhagen is actively involved, so you would assume that preserving the trees were a priority, green city and all. I hitched a ride with Google Streetview and counted more than eighty bushes, plants and trees.

80+ trees butchered by a city that calls itself green?

One guess what the city did as the first order of business? Exact same spot below:

They cut it all down.

Clearly the architects were not instructed to preserve the existing vegetation and work around it. Nor was removing the trees and replanting them somewhere else considered a priority. I would really like to know how the administration of Copenhagen have the nerve to call themselves green? And what kind of selfrespecting City Architect allows this to happen on her watch?

The Salami Method:
The Danish Society for Nature Conservation has named this the Salami Method: cutting away a little bit here and a little bit there. Disregarding protected land, terminating the status at convenience. Building a metro on a cemetery or drying up a protected lake, transforming it into a construction site. Or, in the case of the proposed harbour tunnel, building a freeway right across it. Anything is possible, nothing is safe. Green is just a word.

In this "green" city, healthy old trees are cut down to make room for parking, or even for no reason at all, like it very nearly happened on the bunker corners. Had we not made noise, the bunker forest would have been long gone by now. We simply can no longer afford to just shrug our shoulders, and write these losses off as sacrifices made in the name of progress. When what is going on, is the exact opposite.

Welcome to the jungle.

Saving the bunker forest, an ongoing story, part one, part two, part three, part four... (jury is still out, the only thing they do quickly, is destroy) 

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