This is how Bremen wants to take care of its trees in the future

Photo: IMAGO | Oliver Vogler

Bremen wants to give more importance to the trees in the city. They should be given more space and, when in doubt, they should take priority over new transportation projects.

Anyone walking around Bremen with Iris Bryson, a tree expert from the Bremen Environment Agency, can learn a lot about trees. Especially why the trees along the streets are much smaller than the trees in the parks. They do not have enough room to grow. The so-called tree disc, that is, the space around the tree and also the tree pit, is usually very small.

Tree
The Bremen Environmental Authority has given the tree more space in front of the authority’s entrance. In the future, more urban trees will be given more room to grow.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Kirsten Rautenberg

That must change now: Iris Bryson has developed a so-called “working concept for city trees” for this purpose. It states, for example, that trees should have a tree pit of up to 36 cubic meters in the future. So now they have a hole from one to two cubic meters. The Environment Agency itself has set a good example and recently increased the space around the tree at the agency’s entrance.

This is exactly what has to happen with other street trees: where structurally feasible, the tree disk should be enlarged in order to preserve the old trees. Because so far the city’s trees are no more than 40 years old. Additionally, the new concept envisions that city trees should be better cared for and irrigated.

Trees help cool cities

It is now indisputable that old trees in particular need to be preserved and taken care of: they convert carbon dioxide and are considered to be helpful shade providers in the context of climate change. Perhaps the most famous forester in Germany, Peter Wohlleben describes it in short: “We know that trees contribute greatly to the cooling of a city. A street with old trees can be 20 degrees cooler in summer than a treeless street. On every old tree.

We always want to replant trees where they need to be cut down, if possible at once. It’s about protecting trees on construction sites, and we want to give them more room in the root zone. The most important thing is that we want more green trees in the city.

Bremen Senator Mike Schaefer

In order to ensure that trees are better considered in new building plans or on construction sites and that their roots are not damaged, environmental authorities should be involved earlier in the future. Trees must be mapped much earlier than before and buildings must be built around trees.

Priority for new transportation projects

Tree
Many street trees in Bremen do not do well because they do not have enough space to grow. They are no more than 40 years old.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Kirsten Rautenberg

Logs have been cut down repeatedly for transportation projects in the past – most recently for the so-called Querspange Ost, an extension of Tram Line 2. The project was approved ten years ago, but construction only began in January of this year. 180 old oak, beech and poplar trees were cut down for this purpose. Bremen environmental senator Mike Schaefer (Green Party) doubts that such a project will still win approval today. “In this case, it was just like at the time that one of the driveways had to be cleared. They didn’t dare to do that at the time, and they didn’t want to take anything away from the drivers, which is why the trees had to go. I think that will be significantly different in the future, because trees are so valuable that you have to plan around them.”

Dietmar Zacharias, a biologist from the Bremen University of Applied Sciences, sees a big problem in implementing the concept: there are not enough staff at the Environment Agency. So far, two people are working on this concept – not enough, he thinks. Iris Bryson assumes that all of the projects from the concept – there are 31 in total – will only be implemented within ten years. However, about 150 new trees are scheduled to be planted by the end of next year.

More on this topic:

This topic is in the program:
Bremen 2, morning, March 23, 2022, 7:35 am

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