The legendary chestnut trees that line one of Oslo’s most fashionable avenues, Bygdøy allé, may all need to be chopped down. Damage from road salt and an apparently incurable tree disease are to blame.
The trees, featured in a classic Norwegian song that rhapsodizes over their annual blossoming, have stood along the main artery through Oslo’s Frogner district for more than 100 years. City officials chopped down 11 of them in December, though, fearing they’d otherwise collapse on their own.
Examinations of the trees last fall determined that 142 of the 209 trees along the avenue already were dead or likely would die within 10 years. They thus posed a danger, argued officials, who began chopping them down despite neighbourhood protests.
Terje Næss of the city parks and recreation department (Friluftsetaten) told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the trees may be replaced with another variety that would be better able to tolerate salt and traffic on the busy street. It’s unlikely the car- and bus traffic on Bygdøy allé will be re-routed, and that wouldn’t save the trees at this point anyway, according to Næss.
Lorentz Tanner, leader of a local civic group that was formed to preserve Bygdøy allé, doesn’t think it will be a catastrophe if the chestnuts are swapped for another type of tree.
“I have the impression that the public first and foremost wants a well-planted and green allé, which the city has the funds to take care of,” said Tanner, adding that it doesn’t really matter whether they’re chestnuts.