© A R Beer,2001 Return to Home page

Greenspace Management in Denmark and Sweden

Summary

The Danish experience

The Swedish experience

Regenerating greenspace in and near high density multi storey housing -
Case Studies

DENMARK
Aedalsparken
Gillesager
Hvidovre
Lyngby - Town Green
Mortenshupvej
Taestrup

 

SWEDEN
Alingsås
Angered
Bergsjön
Eriksbo
Gårdsten
Lomma  
Malmo-Holma
Malmo Bo01
Östra Uggledal

-------------------------------

 

Greenspace Management in Denmark and Sweden

Summary

The Danish experience

The Swedish experience

Regenerating greenspace in and near high density multi storey housing -
Case Studies

DENMARK
Aedalsparken
Gillesager
Hvidovre
Lyngby - Town Green
Mortenshupvej
Taestrup

 

SWEDEN
Alingsås
Angered
Bergsjön
Eriksbo
Gårdsten
Lomma  
Malmo-Holma
Malmo Bo01
Östra Uggledal

-------------------------------

 

Greenspace Management in Denmark and Sweden

Summary

The Danish experience

The Swedish experience

Regenerating greenspace in and near high density multi storey housing -
Case Studies

DENMARK
Aedalsparken
Gillesager
Hvidovre
Lyngby - Town Green
Mortenshupvej
Taestrup

 

SWEDEN
Alingsås
Angered
Bergsjön
Eriksbo
Gårdsten
Lomma  
Malmo-Holma
Malmo Bo01
Östra Uggledal

-------------------------------

Innovative solutions from Denmark and Sweden to the design, management and maintenance of urban greenspace

Sweden

Greenspace Management and Maintenance - Overview

 

Cost of urban greenspace management

In 1997 less than 1% was spent on greenspace maintenance; the position is now improving after 5 years. [Exact figures are available by contacting the research organisation Movium direct.] The amount of monies available for maintenance is now steady, albeit at a rather low level.

There appears to be no real understanding within local government of the overall role of greenspace provision and availability in cities. The present approach at city planning level can be assessed by looking at the most recent Groenplan - a greenplan discussion document for Malmo, Sweden's most southern city. Malmo is extending southwards to the city boundaries - it is planning green areas for development in the future. The Groenplan plan has been prepared by ecologists and landscape architects; it appears not to have taken costs into account. The Groenplan shows areas of green per inhabitant in Malmo and the other 10 largest cities in Sweden. Malmo is surrounded by high grade agricultural land, the best in Sweden and some of the most fertile in the world, and yet the lack of an effective regional planning system does not seem to allow this to be taken into account in making a truly sustainable greenplan of the city.

There has been an increase in interest in "green" issues, including greenspaces, among individual members of the public, but this has not had any major impact on planning or designing public places.

The view of society in Sweden ( i.e. their social conscience), which instils a sense of "our" rather than "my", is still strong and has much to do with the relatively high standards of open space provision and maintenance which is very visible in Swedish towns.

 

Greenspace in housing areas

When new areas are planned, the greenspaces are managed by house owners themselves from the outset. The management and maintenance costs are charged through the rent and those living in individual housing schemes may arrange for the work to be done collectively, or they can organise it to be done through the caretaking system. Alternatively, they can hire a contractor.

Social housing companies are responsible for public/communal areas within the boundaries of each housing area. (Information was unavailable at the time of discussion on the charges made to the residents each month). Social housing companies are subsidised by local government and are the means by which local government builds social housing. (Note: In Sweden a whole range of social/ income groups live in social housing and this remains so today, even though many more private houses are now being built. There is no stigma to living in social housing - but that has not stopped some housing estates becoming areas within which the socially excluded concentrate.)

Recent changes

With the growth in private provision of social housing there is a tendency for the communal areas provided by such schemes to be managed by private companies rather than social housing companies. Such housing landscapes and greenspaces can be defined as "club" landscapes - they are only open and available to a few. (Note that in Sweden this implied lack of accessibility is not so in reality, as all open land can be walked on by anyone.) It is here only a financial mechanism, but one which often ensures a better than average level of maintenance.

Biodiversity in Swedish cities

Sweden has a long tradition of preserving original nature and natural structures in the urban areas. In a way biodiversity is one of the pillars on which the traditional swedish park planning policy is based. But when it comes to re-creating nature, this a phenomena that is popular to talk about, but not that often seen in practice

The need to enhance the biodiversity of cities in Sweden is currently being debated. It should be borne in mind that urban areas make up only 1.5% of the total area of Sweden. Agricultural production is confined to certain areas and there are so many treed areas that it is difficult to get individual people to be concerned about biodiversity in cities. The ecologists consider that watercourses are the most important factor. Social greenspace is also regarded as very important.

For these reasons there have only been limited projects in certain areas, but there is no overall strategy for biodiversity in cities.

Meadows, mostly on the outskirts, are now being mown only once a year to lower maintenance costs - this is also beneficial for urban biodiversity.

Inventories and mapping have been carried out in Malmo, for example, although this should not be interpreted as a plan for the city. There is more background data available now than in the past.

Green corridors are being developed, for example, to enable people to cycle in the countryside; these social aspects are regarded as most important, not biodiversity.

Public open spaces

Voluntary help is not very common, although there are examples, for instance, in small local parks close to housing.

Involvement of the public is often through ecology, for example, through managing meadows, or maintaining history. Sweden has the open space, but it needs to be preserved; in the UK a lot of open spaces kept for ecological reasons have been lost to developers in recent years.

Nature School in Lund - this involves 2/3 people from the municipality going into schools. They provide workshops that aim to inspire teachers in ways of involving the children. There are school playground projects and educational walks organised by Park Departments. This activity has been carried out in Helsingborg and Lund.

While studies have found that involvement of individuals in environmental issues is usually short-term, perhaps only for 2 years, Swedish experience of involvement of local groups is different. One example given was of an athletics club which continues to maintain the park and kindergarten area used by the club.

 

Swedish housing - Background

Each city in Sweden has a housing plan which determines the proportion of rented housing (social housing provided through municipally owned companies), co-operative housing and private housing. There are private housing companies and private owners of individual houses too.

City-owned housing companies are public companies run as non-profit making organisations.

The term "co-operative housing" was clarified. It refers to housing owned by the residents, but where the residents belong to an association of other residents in the block. (The equivalent in the UK is probably "tenants in common".) Residents pay to belong to this association which looks after maintenance of communal areas of the building and surrounding green, and car parking areas.

The composition of residents in Gothenburg varies from area to area: some areas comprise of Swedish people only; in other areas immigrants predominate. There was a considerable amount of empty rented property, which was leading to the deterioration of many housing estates, so that the immigrants' arrival was regarded as an opportunity. Initially there was a large influx from Finland and elsewhere in Europe after the Second World War, and more recently immigrants have come from all over the world. The original incomers were offered jobs and houses and they wanted to be assimilated into Swedish society and become Swedes themselves. Since the 1970s this has changed and a lot of refugees and economic migrants who have settled in Sweden are not sure that they wish to become Swedish - they want to earn money and initially intend to return home (they rarely do so). The parents often have language problems, although the children become fluent and make friends, and tend to want to become Swedish. Some children are sent back home to be immersed in their families' original culture. The result, as elsewhere in Europe, is a level of ghettoisation of immigrant groups in certain housing areas and this in turn has an impact on greenspaces adjacent to and near that housing, through the way it is used and abused. There is a means- tested housing subsidy and the rents are held at a level in keeping with the costs involved in upkeep, etc.

There are some successful examples of involving immigrant groups in greenspace management - one notable example being in Bergsjön. Here there is an example of an eco project, consisting of wetland, biological experiments, a farm for children and a recycling business. Bergsjön's population is made up of approximately 90% immigrants. In one of the housing areas a project involved the creation of an ecological house where plants and vegetables could grow. An unusual feature is that the people in charge are women immigrants (from Syria). At first the men were suspicious of the project and reluctant to help, but now they are beginning to be involved, for example, with digging in the garden.

There are 21 districts in Gothenburg, each of which administer so-called "soft" aspects at the local level: schools, leisure, child care, under the auspices of a District Committee. In relation to greenspace management and maintenance the District buys services from the Parks Department.

Today more terraced housing is being built than high rise. The cost of private housing depends on the location.

Some housing areas developed in the 1970s have allotment gardens attached to them. Tenants can rent a flat and an allotment at the same time.

Urban growth

Whereas Malmo's expansion is competing with high quality agricultural land, the land around Gothenburg is clay and mountains, with the city developed along long valleys. There are housing areas in the north east of Gothenburg, built in the 1960s, that consist of houses and roads and no other amenities. Gothenburg City owns a lot of land, but no-one wants to buy it as it is considered undevelopable.

Huge industrial areas of the inner city are being redeveloped currently. In contrast, Stockholm has grown rapidly and there is constant pressure to build new buildings, particularly in the centre.

 

© Anne Beer, 2001

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Latest update : 20 Sept 2001