Berlin’s City Tree Campaign
The aim of the Berlin’s City Tree Campaign is to plant and care sustainably for up to 10,000 additional roadside trees between 2012 and 2017. The trees, which are partly funded by donations, contribute to improve people’s quality of life in the city.
There are currently 440,000 trees planted along the streets of Berlin that make the city be one of the greenest metropolises in the world. In July 2011 the Berlin Senate, which is the executive body governing the State of Berlin, agreed upon the “Urban Green Space Strategy”. Within this framework, policy guidelines include the goal of planting and maintaining up to 10,000 additional roadside trees for the period 2012 to 2017. The duties and responsibilities for this project have been shared via the project agreement made between the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment and the Districts of Berlin.
The City Tree Campaign is partly financed by donations made by citizens and businesses alike. The cost of planting and maintaining a new tree in Berlin is about €1,200. Since the “City Trees for Berlin” campaign began in 2012, around 5,000 additional trees have already been planted on Berlin’s streets thanks to donations for a total amount of €600,000.
Background and objectives
In past years, many urban trees had to be felled in Berlin as a result of age, disease or pest infestation. As funds to replace these trees were not available in the affected locations, the eradication of trees has caused negative impacts on the city climate, affecting residents and Berlin’s visitors alike.
The fundraising campaign organised by the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment aims to redress the negative balance in planting and caring for new urban trees. The campaign also pursues the objective of improving the image of the city’s trees in the long term. By 2017 the aim is to plant up to 10,000 additional roadside trees in Berlin, in the spring and autumn of each year.
The City Tree Campaign is a joint project of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment and the Districts of Berlin. The Department is responsible for organising the campaign as a whole. This means launching the call for tenders and commissioning the companies that will plant the trees. The Senate Department is also responsible for the public relations (advertising and hotline) and for handling the finances (administrating incomes and donations as well as applying for public fundings). The Districts nominate available sites were new trees can be planted and provide support for tree planting.
The Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment has not only worked with the districts of Berlin to set up this campaign but has also collaborated with the public and business to raise funds and increase the stock of urban trees. The reasons for participating in the campaign are varied. Some local people plant a tree to commemorate the birth of a child, while other donations are made in memory of a deceased person. Some residents also set up communal collections to plant a new tree in front of their own building. Private compagnies see their action as a good advertising and PR opportunity, while politicians can demonstrate their green credentials.
Financing and resources
The average cost to plant a new tree is €1,200, including maintenance. When a donation of €500 is made, the remaining € 700 are funded from the state budget. Planting 800 trees per season requires on average 1 million euros. Further subsidies have not yet been used for the city tree campaign.
Results and impacts
In 2016, about 5,000 additional urban trees have already been planted, with donations totalling approximately €600,000. Assuming that a tree will consume 1.5kg of CO² per day (average value), this planting programme will absorb approximately half a tonne of CO² per tree each year. When scaled up to 10,000 trees, this will take out around 5,000 tonnes of carbon per year in the city of Berlin.
From the outset, the fundraising campaign has been well supported by Berlin’s residents, businesses and politicians. It has been highlighted in the media as a bold strategy to foster civic engagement.
Lessons learned and transferability
The factors that have contributed to make this project appealing for many Berlin residents have been identified as follows:
- Trees are a popular subject and the fundraising campaign make it easier for every citizen to support;
- Through their donation, people can act for their city and are more likely to strengthen their personal connection with society;
- Efficient public relations work has served to inform citizens about the campaign and encourage them to participate.
Experience gained from organising this fundraising campaign is easily transferable to other fields. In the future, the city will more likely encourage residents to get personnaly involved in community duties and support the administration in the provision of public services.
The Senate Department was inspired by a similar fundraising campaign organised by the city of Hamburg in Germany. To date, various other local authorities in Germany and international cities have shown great interest in Berlin’s City Tree Campaign. The campaign’s large internet presence can help other cities to understand and reproduce this approach elsewhere.
- Berlin’s City Tree Campaign / Urban Trees for Berlin, Urban Innovation Database, http://www.urban-innovations.org/index.php/Berlin%E2%80%99s_City_Tree_Campaign_/_Urban_Trees_for_Berlin (accessed 29 August 2016)
- BERLIN’S CITY TREE CAMPAIGN / URBAN TREES FOR BERLIN, Metropolis Award, http://www.metropolis.org/awards/5th-edition-2014/berlins-city-tree-campaign-urban-trees-berlin (accessed 30. August 2016)
- Stadtbaumkampagne, Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/umwelt/stadtgruen/stadtbaeume/kampagne/index.shtml (accessed 30 August 2016)