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Amager Fælled: the defence of the commons in Copenhagen, Denmark

"Who wants to live in a stone desert?" The nature reserve Amager Fælled, i.e. the ‘Amager commons’, is a park of the people, home of species distinctive to the region. Under threat now for urban infrastructure projects by By & Havn.


City and port developers By & Havn have revealed their plans for Amager Fælled, the urban nature area in south Copenhagen. A 40-hectare large, green zone near the Sundby metro station will be transformed into a new neighbourhood with several 7-storey apartment buildings offering 2,000-3,000 housing units, as well as with shops, supermarkets, parking and daycare centres. Construction companies are currently submitting their project proposals and By & Havn hope that construction work will commence in 2017-2018 and that the first residents will be able to move in two years later. [1] That old beach meadow was back in 1992 given to a commercial company By & Havn by the municipality and the government for payment of the Copenhagen Metro. The agreement is part of the national law for the area. Hereby they repelled an ongoing preservation law which one-day prior had legally been adopted.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Amager Fælled: the defence of the commons in Copenhagen, Denmark
Location of conflict:Copenhagen
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Infrastructure, housing
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Amager Fælled is a commons in Copenhagen, set to be reduced in size following the decision of the city and port developers By & Havn to convert a portion of the urban nature area in south Copenhagen into buil environments. By & Havn revealed that five architectural teams had already started working on potential masterplans for the Amager Fælled District, located just north of Vejlands Allé and the Bella Center convention centre. But the decision to develop some 40 hectares of the nature area on Amager Fælled in the capital has not gone down smoothly with many Copenhagers. “Who wants to live in a stone desert? It’s now or never if we want to conserve Copenhagen’s nature,” Tommy Petersen, the head of Radikale party at City Hall, wrote on Twitter. “It’s completely crazy to build 2,500 homes on Amager Fælled in Copenhagen. It must be stopped.” [3]

Project area:308
Level of Investment for the conflictive project150,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:500,000
Start of the conflict:18/09/2016
Company names or state enterprises:By & Havn from Denmark - Owner of the area
Relevant government actors:Copenhagen Municipality
The State of Denmark
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Danmarks Naturfredningsforening (The Danish Society for Nature Conservation)
-Miljøorganisationen NOAH (The environmental organization NOAH)
-Forests of the World (
- Amager Fælled Venner
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Soil contamination, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Displacement, Land dispossession
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:There is opposition to large scale building in Amager Faelled, a green commons in the city of Copenhagen. The conflict is still developing.
Sources & Materials

[1] Development plans for Copenhagen nature area revealed. Green zone will be transformed into a new neighbourhood with high-rise buildings. September 12th, 2016 by Lucie Rychla
[click to view]

[2] Is privatisation looming for the park of the people?

If you haven’t yet discovered it, you needn’t leave Copenhagen to experience nature. Within Amager lies a piece of the wild, making it easy for you to forget you are even in the city. But how might this picture change in the near future? December 10th, 2016, by Ashley Smalley
[click to view]

[3] Copenhagen Post, 25 April 2016, Copenhagen nature area facing development plans. Part of Amager Fælled sectioned off to become new district.
[click to view]

[4] Copenhagen's Wetland Debate: To Build or Preserve

An interview with the Danish political party Enhedslisten (aka Red-Green Alliance) about Amager Fælled ("Amager Common").

English article about Amager Fælled published 25 January 2017 in CityLab by Feargus O'Sullivan
[click to view]

[5] Putting a price on biodiversity.

An in depth article about Amager Fællled and an interview with the Friends of Amager Common

Published in Murmur 18 April 2017 by Peter Stanners
[click to view]

[6] A Challenge to Copenhagens's Model of Development

Copenhagen's Lord Mayor Frank Jensen announced his about-face on a project he had personally endorsed. The city promised to look elsewhere for construction. Published by CityLab 25 september 2017 in CityLab by Feargus O'Sullivan
[click to view]

[7] Pristine land on Amager Fælled might be saved

Lord Mayor Frank Jensen has agreed to find an alternate site for a housing development on Amager Fælled, after a majority in City Hall withdrew their support. But activists are concerned he may just change his mind after the election. Published in The Murmur 6 October 2017 by Peter Stanners
[click to view]

[8] Green issues pivotal in municipal election

The Social Democrats control over Copenhagen City Hall hangs in the balance over their support of a redevelopment on Amagerfælled. Published in The Murmur 16 October 2017 by Peter Stanners
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

10 minute video on human ring demonstration, 18 Sept 2016
[click to view]

Human ring demonstration, 18 Sept. 2016
[click to view]

Folkering 2 (The people's ring 2). Sunday 7. may the people of Copenhagen gathered around Amager Fælled (Amager common) to protest against the building plans.
[click to view]

Amager Fælleds Festival (the Amager commons festival) on sunday 10 October 2017.
[click to view]

The common protest song "Til Ama'r Fælled" (To Amager Common)

The common song is sung and recorded with Wili Jønsson on bass, Johan Olsen, Rovdrift, Vokalselskabet Glas, Louise Brüel Flagstad and others.
[click to view]

Other documents

The Battle of the Commons - A case study of Amager Fælled A thesis that investigate the motivation behind the Municipality of Copenhagen’s privatisation of public space and how an urban social movement responds to this.

Through a case study of Amager Fælled, a preserved nature area in Copenhagen, Denmark, the conflict between the urban planning strategies of Copenhagen and the urban social movement Amager Fælleds Venner is examined. Amager Fælled is a public nature area that the Municipality of Copenhagen has planned to develop for housing. Amager Fælleds Venner are fighting against the planned privatisation of the nature area, as they see Amager Fælled as an important part of their urban life. The investigations were carried out by walking interviews with four members of Amager Fælleds Venner, netnography of their Facebook group and critical discourse analysis of several documents from the Municipality of Copenhagen. The result of the thesis indicates that urban politics in Copenhagen have gone through processes of neoliberalisation and that the urban social movement, Amager Fælleds Venner, is a product of these politics.
[click to view]

Other comments:Amager fælled is a very diverse and unique green area just 2.5 km from the centre of Copenhagen. The area has various vegetation and biotopes; mainly shrubland with a mix of forest, lake, reed forest and old salt marsh with grazing cows, and it is mainly left wild. Due to its size of 2.5 km2 it’s a really good opportunity for the Copenhagen citizens to step out into almost wild nature.
There are present plans of using the old marsh areas for buildings, as well as road construction.
Meta information
Contributor:Steffen Rasmussen, Friends of Amager Fælleds, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2506
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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