Debate, Nature conservation | The city council parties go for a frontal attack on nature


Opinions This is a debate post. The post expresses the writer’s views.

We are in the middle of a climate crisis and we are in the middle of a natural crisis. These are two man-made problems that are closely related. A damaged nature exacerbates the climate crisis, and a changed climate destroys nature. When the city council decided last year that Bergen municipality should become land-neutral, this was an important step in the right direction. We know that the destruction of the species’ habitats is the biggest threat to biological diversity. If we are to take care of the species we have left in Bergen, the best recipe is precisely to take care of nature.

Bergen now has a city council that wants to go against the city council’s adopted policy. The city council obviously has the opportunity to write what they want in their platforms, but they cannot actually scrap a decision made by the city council. City council leader Christine Meyer herself said in a meeting of the Business Committee on 06.02.24 that the decision on land neutrality will stand until the city council possibly makes a new decision. Then the city council must know its visiting hours and actually work according to the decisions that have been made. This means that in its work the city council must work according to the objective that Bergen municipality should be land-neutral. I still benefit from seeing them do that.

This spring, the city council in Bergen will adopt a new forestry plan. This is a plan that will be very important if we want to take care of nature in our city. Unfortunately, the draft plan does not distinguish between natural forests and cultivated forests, despite the fact that we know that around 40% of all threatened species in Norway live in natural forests. It is therefore worrying that Hjortland, where we know that red-listed species live, is included in the plan. What Åsane needs is that we take care of the remaining nature in the district, not that we demolish it.

In January, Høyre’s Chris Jørgen Rødland wrote that “the city council will regulate many more homes, in order to win the competition for families with children”. He believes that both the Area section of the Municipal Plan and the Green Strategy – the document in which the city council decided that Bergen should become area-neutral – are “inhibiting sensible housing construction”.

Firstly, I think Rødland has slept through the hour, when he hasn’t realized that Bergen came top of the 20 largest municipalities in the country on the “livability index” last year. This is an index that ranks how well the municipalities are at promoting housing construction. The ranking is based on 16 indicators, including processing time, fees, land reserves, housing construction and housing prices. When we are already coming out on top, I simply do not understand why new housing must be built at the expense of nature.

Secondly, I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself, when I’m quite convinced that families with children also want to live in a municipality where nature is taken care of. The solution to the housing price crisis is not to destroy nature, but to invest in social housing (how we will achieve that will be the subject of another post).

Pretty words in city council platforms and celebratory speeches that you want to take care of nature are not enough. It’s what we do that actually counts. Today’s city council is pursuing a dark gray policy that will ultimately affect us all. Perhaps apart from a few, large, private developers who want to be left with short-term, private profit at the expense of nature. What we need is a policy for the citizens and nature, not the developers.

Finally, I would like to say: fortunately, it is not too late to turn around. If the city council actually wants to make a reality of what they themselves write in their platform, “consider climate, nature and urban repair in all matters”, then the support for land neutrality has not expired. On the contrary, I am happy to be disproved of the understanding of a grey, awkward and anti-nature city council. But it is urgent if the city council is actually going to change course. The climate and nature crisis does not take a timeout to wait for political action.

The article is in Norwegian


Tags: Debate Nature conservation city council parties frontal attack nature


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