19 November 2021

Although there are currently many trees in Riga, there is a risk that the number of trees may dwindle in future. It has become almost impossible to replace trees in Riga due to regulations. Where trees have been standing for decades and need to be replaced, the following guideline applies: planting trees within a distance of one and a half meters to underground utilities is not allowed. Not even if these utilities were laid much later than the age of the tree. According to Pilsēta cilvēkiem (City for People) this is the reverse world.

Pilsēta cilvēkiem (City for People)
Pilsēta cilvēkiem is a volunteer organisation founded in 2016 with the aim of implementing a safe and healthy urban environment in Riga and other Latvian cities. In the 1960s, the streets of Latvian cities were designed primarily for road transport, without regard for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. As nothing has changed over the years, more and more people are choosing to travel short distances by private car. Pilsēta cilvēkiem is therefore committed to redesigning these streets so that they are safe, comfortable and enjoyable for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. An important part of this is a healthy green infrastructure.

Edgars Neilands of LABIE KOKI in conversation with mayor Oleg Burov of Riga

The first two climate trees in the heart of Riga
In a partnership with the city, Pilsēta cilvēkiem has taken up the challenge of showing the city council that planting new trees in a compact plot between all underground purposes is possible without creating any problems. The ALPS Landscape Architecture Agency is responsible for the design and has experience in setting up tree pits. Tree consultancy and care company LABIE KOKI and contractor Alejas projekti are responsible for the construction.

On site before installation of the TreeParker structural soil cell system

Are underground utilities the biggest problem in Riga?
It is not just the guidelines within Riga that make planting trees impossible. There are also many practical issues raised by various organisations. These objections have been negated with the knowledge gained within TreeBuilders. Pilsēta cilvēkiem therefore received the green light to plant two more trees within this underground jungle of utilities.

TreeParker is designed for the urban environment and all its underground infrastructures

Cooperation and sharing knowledge are key
Mãris Jonovs, spokesman for Pilsēta cilvēkiem, explained that it took quite some time before permission was given to plant the trees. Various companies and departments of the municipality had to be convinced that an integral approach is the only way to preserve trees in the city. The enthusiasm of the many voluntarily participating companies and institutions such as LABIE KOKIALPSAlejas projektiZilberBaumschule Lorenz von EhrenBrikersMežpils Alus and Latvijas Ainavu arhitektu asociācija contributed to the acceleration of the process. But the people within Pilsēta cilvēkiem, were the real driving force, as it was them who got everyone on the same page and they succeeded in making the right people understand that everyone is pursuing the same ultimate goal: to create a liveable city for everyone.

The tree is welcomed in the centre of Riga, together with the different parties involved.

Planting climate trees in a sustainable way
The City of Riga is planting its first two climate trees in the heart of the city, complete with the TreeParker structural soil cell system. Although TreeParker units have been installed in Riga on previous projects, this is the first project actually undertaken by the city. The other TreeParker projects have been installed by project developers; as they understand the added value of planting large healthy trees near their properties. This is not only for the climate, but also for the revenue as these large trees add to the property value and they attract tenants faster.

A lot of attention from different angles when planting the future-proof trees

TreeParker system installed with great interest
After months of preparation, the time had finally come as two trees of seven metres high were planted in the city centre, with the support of a large team of sponsors. Despite restrictions by the applicable guidelines, Pilsēta cilvēkiem managed to play a key role in establishing a more sustainable urban future for the city of Riga. The trees were planted with great interest from the city council, project developers and interested residents. TreeBuilders was pleased to help another city on its way to a sustainable and climate-proof living environment.


Mayor promises more money for the future trees
In total, it took Pilsēta cilvēkiem no less than two years to get permission to plant two new trees in the Riga city centre, at their own expense. Despite the complicated planting location, the city has managed to gain trees thanks to the TreeParker units. The city council and those present have now seen the system with their own eyes and they have been convinced that the underground growing conditions are the basis for a healthy future for our city trees. Mayor Oleg Burov was also present at the planting of the trees and he even promised to make more money available for the planting of more city trees in the future.