Ancient Trees in Budapest City Park in Peril

28 January 2019 | By Marlene Stjernholm
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Proposed plans to renovate Budapest City Park will cut down 1,000 historic trees, destroy a fragile inner-city ecosystem and negatively impact the city’s air quality.

Városliget—Budapest’s 200-year old park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is being threatened by proposed plans to create a new museum district on the site. 

One of the oldest city parks in the world, Városliget needs attention to restore its former beauty. But what’s going on right now, in the opinion of many, is the destruction of the park as a public space for recreation and welcome respite from all the stone and brick that makes up Budapest.

Photo by: Pixabay

The goal of the project, known as Liget Budapest Project, is to appeal to tourists by developing a museum district and cultural centre. However, according to an IPSOS survey, 86% of citizens in Budapest are not in favour of this plan.
Ordinary citizens and professionals (architects and urban planners) have joined environmentalists in protesting against the government’s plans that would replace more than 1,000 trees in the now tranquil park with 300,000 tons of concrete buildings. They have formed a protest group called “Ligetvédők” (“Park Protectors”), and are demanding that the park is renovated without constructing new buildings. Many insist that a museum district could be built in other locations within the city, since green space in Budapest is already scarce. 

Photo by: Elekes Andor

Maintaining that “the time is now to take back the first public park in Budapest,” activists intervened when construction crews entered the park and began cutting trees in an area designated for the one of the new buildings, the Hungarian House of Music. But police forces became involved and the demolition work, including felling more trees, resumed.

Unfortunately, attempts to hold a referendum about the plans were shut down by the government, making it difficult for citizens to voice their concerns. Demanding that they be heard and calling the action “the most non-democratic decision in years”, citizens continue to protest the plans that would spend billions of forints of public money and sacrifice thousands of trees on something they do not want. 

Photo by: Elekes Andor

Hear concerned citizens state their case to save their beloved park in this video

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