Trees, people & climate


431 101 City trees – climate crisis in a lively, captivating way


With this exhibition we wish to portray the reality of the ongoing climate crisis and talk about our possibilities to fight it. This way, our environment will be still worth living in for all generations to come! One way in which the climate crisis can be seen, among others, is within the suffering health of Berlin’s 431,101 city trees. These trees have been sick for many years now and are growing in less numbers. City trees in particular suffer and die from various causes such as heat, drought and pest infestation. The exhibition consists of a total of 8 additional text panels and focuses on the subjects of city trees, people and our climate from different perspectives. The 8 boards can be found at different intersections along the middle path of the cemetery. The exhibition was created in collaboration with three independent initiatives. The idea is based on the experiences of the activists of “Tag des guten Lebens” (TdgL) from three different Berlin neighborhoods. It was implemented by the “Psychologists for Future” (PSY4F) and has found a place in the Prinzessinnengärten. All three initiatives focus on maintaining our environment worth living in. The TdgL initiative wants to initiate the transformation of the city by getting people from diverse neighborhoods to engage in conversations with each other, thereby activating the civil society. PSY4F advocates for climate resilience and supports initiatives such as those like TdgL.

[1] BUND Berlin e.V. (2021) „BUND Baumreport – Berlin 2012-2019 Bestandsentwicklung der Straßenbäume“: [Mai2021]


PSY4F 1/8. Trees suffer – and we can help!

In Berlin more and more street trees die every year. In the period from 2012 to 2019, 1,108 more old trees were felled each year than new ones were planted. This means that there are now 8,870 fewer trees in the city. As the climate crisis worsens, the conditions for the trees will continue to deteriorate. The loss is a double burden due to the fact that old trees are bigger, have a lot more leaves and therefore protect us more efficiently. Trees help us in many ways. In the short term, they give us oxygen to breathe, shade, and moisture. They significantly lower the temperatures in the city. In addition, trees filter pollutants (fine dust) from the air. In the long term, trees take the CO2 from the air and bind it in their wood. This is how trees help us to maintain a good life for future generations. Because too much CO2 in the air heats up our climate more and more and if we don’t prevent that our living conditions would change dramatically.

[2] BUND Berlin e.V. (2021) „BUND Baumreport – Berlin 2012-2019 Bestandsentwicklung der Straßenbäume“: [Mai2021]

PSY4F 2/8. Are you still defending or can you already see it?

The death of city trees is real. Anyone who did not know it before, will know about it now after having dealt with the previous panels. In our everyday life we encounter many indications of the climate crisis, yet we ignore them and continue our lives without thinking about it and acting accordingly. Knowing something and not wanting to acknowledge it is understood as a form of psychological defense, more precisely known as denial. With regard to the climate crisis, different forms can be distinguished:

Negation – „The trees don’t die because of the climate!“ – We deny reality in order to protect ourselves from fear, anger or pain. As with grief processes, it can be the first step towards recognition.

Disvowal – “It’s not that bad for the trees to die!” – We trivialise the importance of our lives. Rejection is the more stubborn form of defense because we keep finding new ways of denial as fear grows.


PSY4F 3/8. Do you feel solastalgia?

One of the dramatic consequences of the climate crisis is the loss of personally meaningful habitats. Losing the relationship to a place or even the place itself triggering a feeling can be described as solastalgia – that is, the grief and the pain about what has already been taken from us by climate change – in contrast to climate anxiety, which refers to what could still be destroyed. The climate crisis has already taken away many trees in our cities, hence urban, green habitats. This loss translates to a direct burden on our mental health. To put it positively: the preservation of the trees is essential for our quality of life. Green places in our cities have been shown to reduce personal stress levels and associated physical and mental illnesses. In the meantime, there have been some studies that support this widespread, subjective perception with physiologically measurable values (e.g. lower cortisol levels or faster blood pressure leveling off when you relax in nature after stress-inducing situations).

[4] geprägt wurde der Begriff 2005 durch den Philosophen Glenn Albrecht

[5] Withmore-Williams, S., Manning, C., Krygsman, K., Speiser, M. (2017). Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications and Guidance. APA, Climate for Health, EcoAmerica: Washington & San Francisco.

PSY4F 4/8. Why are city trees important to us?

In addition to reducing stress levels, urban areas with trees can also have a positive effect on our memory abilities. Moreover, it has been shown that diseases such as type II diabetes or respiratory diseases are less common in residential areas with green spaces. The causes of these effects are not yet fully understood. One possible explanation is that our attention is active in an environment with trees but the stimuli affect us in a less targeted and penetrating manner. In addition, urban green spaces encourage physical activity. They bring people into contact with one another and promote cohesion within neighborhoods. The contact with city trees also offers the opportunity to learn something about nature and its processes in an otherwise rather artificial environment. Time spent in a park increases a feeling of closeness to nature and the awareness of being an integral part of the biosphere for many people. This feeling of connectedness can, in turn, lead to more engaged and sustainable behavior in the longer term.

[6] Grahn, P., & Stigsdotter, U. A. (2003). Landscape planning and stress. Urban forestry & urban greening, 2(1), 1-18.

[7] Tyrväinen, L., Pauleit, S., Seeland, K., & de Vries, S. (2005). Benefits and uses of urban forests and trees. In Urban forests and trees, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 81-114.

[8] Astell-Burt, T., & Feng, X. (2019). Urban green space, tree canopy, and prevention of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes: A longitudinal study. The Lancet Planetary Health, 3, 16.
 Chiesura, A. (2004). The role of urban parks for the sustainable city. Landscape and urban planning, 68(1), 129-138.

[9] Villeneuve, P. J., Jerrett, M., Su, J. G., Burnett, R. T., Chen, H., Wheeler, A. J., & Goldberg, M. S. (2012). A cohort study relating urban green space with mortality in Ontario, Canada. Environmental research, 115, 51-58.

[10]Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of environmental psychology, 15(3), 169-182.

[11]Chiesura, A. (2004). The role of urban parks for the sustainable city. Landscape and urban planning, 68(1), 129-138.

[12] Schultz P.W. (2000). Empathizing with nature: the effects of perspective taking on concern for environmental issues. Journal of Social Issues 56, 391– 406.
Whitburn, J., Linklater, W., & Abrahamse, W. (2020). Metaanalysis of human connection to nature and proenvironmental behavior. Conservation Biology, 34(1), 180-193.

PSY4F 5/8. The climate crisis is a responsibility crisis!

Who regulates community affairs in a democracy? Who makes the decisions that are supposed to ensure our survival? Who has the power to direct social processes? Politics. According to the definition, this is the task of politics. But in our neoliberal age, policies stand in the way of progressive, survival measures. Lobbying leads to political decisions being made for the benefit of the elite and to the detriment of the majority of society and nature. It is time for our politicians to take responsibility for future generations. It is time for our ecosystems to be maintained through appropriate politically regulated measures to ensure survival. This also includes these trees in this cemetery. The supply of these trees and the green areas in Berlin in general requires political measures: e.g. financial support for community gardens, workers for tree care, water connections for irrigation of the green areas and trees … Here the city of Berlin can definitely take on even more responsibility!

[14] Klein, N. (2014). This changes everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Simon & Schuster: New York.

PSY4F 6/8. PSY4F 6/8. Climate resilience – what does it mean?

Climate facts are often perceived as threatening. As a protective reaction, many people tend to show avoidant behavior. Some people, on the other hand, tend to deal permanently with the climate crisis. Climate resilience describes an area that lies between these two behaviors. Climate resilience is a psychological resource that enables people to deal with the stresses caused by the climate crisis in a cognitively and emotionally healthy manner as well as in an interpersonal and action-oriented manner. In order to develop climate resilience, it can help to take a closer look at feelings that may arise due to the climate crisis.

Tauchgang der Gefühle = diving through emotions
Vermeidung = avoidance
Ahnung = awareness
Schock = shock
Wut = anger / rage
Verbitterung = resentment
Akzeptanz = acceptance
Einsicht = insight
Wachsen & Lernen = growing & learning
handeln = to take action
Tal der Tränen = valley of tears

[16] Klar, M. (2020). Klima-Angst & Klima-Resilienz. Verfügbar unter: [21.05.2021].

[17]  Dohm, L., & Klar, M. (2020). Klimakrise und Klimaresilienz. psychosozial, 43(3), 99-114.

PSY4F 7/8. Let these trees become our ark?!

The neoliberal attitude and way of life of people in the 21st century has been described with the biblical image of a so-called Noah’s Ark mentality. This represents a psychological refuge that protects us from the traumatic reality of the ecological crisis. It is characterized by the assumption to belong to the chosen ones, to be saved by a higher power and to remain unharmed. It allows us not to perceive or feel the signs of the climate crisis – such as the dying of city trees. We turn away as the danger worsens. But the longer we stay in it, the more difficult it becomes to step out of it – are you going to break out of it with us? The best place to deal with painful experiences is in a safe space of empathic connection. We therefore invite you to talk to us about your “climate feelings” under the protection of an oak tree. We meet at this table. The first meeting for the discussion group is on June 19, 2021 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Further dates will follow.

[18]  Weintrobe, S. (2020). Die Arche Noah-Mentalität im 21. Jahrhundert. Psychoanalyse im Widerspruch, 63, 33-40.

PSY4F 8/8. Who [waters these trees] if not us?

The dying of the city trees raises questions about our sense of belonging and our position in urban spaces. The sense of belonging is understood as one of the basic existential needs of humans. Once noticed, tree death requires that we as citizens respond to this question: To what extent do we want / can / must take responsibility – as an individual and as a community? Taking on responsibility strengthens a sense of belonging and vice versa. It’s worth it, so here are two ideas:

By watering vulnerable city trees, everyone can make a contribution to climate protection. On the website you can find out about the tree population in your neighborhood and adopt individual trees.

In the national and Berlin elections in 2021, we as citizens can advocate a decisive “climate policy” and inform ourselves about this in advance on websites such as

[19] Raman S. (2014). Sense of Belonging. In: Michalos A.C. (eds). Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer: Dordrecht.
[20] Hagerty, B., Lynch-Sauer, J., Patusky, L &, Bouwsema, P. (1992). Sense of belonging: A vital mental health concept. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 6(3), 172-177.
[21] Ross, N. (2002). Community belonging and health. Health Reports, 13(3), 33-9.
[22] Edwards, T. & Wiseman, J. (2013). Climate Change, Resilience and Transformation: Challenges and Opportunities for Local Communities. In Weissbecker, I. (Ed.). Climate Change and Human Well-Being: Global Challenges and Opportunities. Springer: Washington, DC, USA.
[23] Blomme, W. (2014). The Senses of Climate Change: The Politics of Belonging in the Age of the Climate Crisis [Doctoral dissertation, University of Johns Hopkins University]. Johns Hopkins University.