Aarhus bans birch trees in public places

Efforts aims to reduce the pollen concentration in the city by 10-30 percent

Most people in Denmark quiver in anticipation of the arrival of spring. The blossoming flowers and trees herald an escape from what is usually a long and gloomy winter.

But for many others, springtime also means suffering. As pollen concentrations soar, sneezing fits, runny noses and itchy eyes reduce the quality of life dramatically for hay fever sufferers. Now the city of Aarhus is taking a stand. No more birch trees!

Aarhus Municipality has decided to ban the future planting of birch trees in public places. The birch tree is one of the pollen sources that harasses allergy sufferers the most during spring and early summer.

“By avoiding planting birch trees in the forests, along the roads and in parks, we can reduce the pollen concentrations a few percent so as to help those allergic to pollen in the city,” Peter Søgaard, a biologist with Aarhus Municipality, told DR Nyheder.

READ MORE: New study: Urban upbringing escalates allergy risk

Can’t stop it all
Søgaard said that he expects the effort will reduce the pollen concentration in the city by 10-30 percent.

But the city won’t be able to completely rid itself of pollen because there are plenty of birch trees on private grounds and much of the pollen is carried by the wind from massive birch forests in Poland and Sweden.

“When the wind is right [or wrong] massive clouds of birch pollen are brought over to us in the air,” said Søgaard. “Birch is a very light pollen and it can travel hundreds of kilometres.”

Aarhus will also try to reduce the amount of grass pollen in the city by cutting the grass in public parks before the grass has a chance to bloom and release pollen.