More Trees Now

A hazel sapling (Corylus avellana) in the ditches of the tree hub at Amsterdamse Bos. Photograph: Judith Jockel/The Guardian

The trillion trees concept, which inspires but has had its share of legitimate questions, has a scrappy cousin with a novel approach:

‘Every tree counts’: Dutch come up with cunning way to create forests for free

More Trees Now aims to give away 1m unwanted saplings to farmers and councils with hope idea will spread across Europ

Hanneke van Ormondt saves a sapling at the tree hub in Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photograph: Judith Jockel/The Guardian

In a clearing in the Amsterdamse Bos, a forest on the outskirts of the Dutch capital, is a “tree hub” where hundreds of saplings, among them hazelnut, sweet cherry, field maple, beech, chestnut and ash, are organised by type.

The idea behind it is simple: every day unwanted tree saplings were being cleared and thrown away when those young trees could be carefully collected and transplanted to where they are wanted.

Volunteers have already collected thousands of saplings cleared from woodland paths and those unlikely to survive in the forest shade. On Saturday, on donate a seedling day, people will be encouraged to take unwanted saplings or cuttings from their own gardens and give them to 200 tree hub locations across the Netherlands.

This winter, Meer Bomen Nu (More Trees Now) aims to give away 1m young trees to farmers, councils and landowners. The small Dutch foundation hopes this circular practice will become commonplace across northern Europe.

“The Netherlands wants to plant 37,000 hectares [91,400 acres], which is about 100m trees,” says Hanneke van Ormondt, the campaign manager of Meer Bomen Nu and a member of the Urgenda climate activism organisation. “I don’t know how short we are in getting nurseries in place, but we don’t need them; we just need more circular forest management. Everywhere along the path, left and right, is always cleared of shrubs and trees. Replant it! My dream is that every council will open a tree hub where foresters can bring their stuff, and people who want a free tree can come.”

A pledge to plant significantly more trees by 2030 is a key part of the Netherlands’ climate change agreements, which Dutch courts have ordered the government to uphold. Across Europe, the EU has promised to plant 3bn trees by 2030, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 44%, and there are strategies to protectboost and extend damaged forests, despite the challenges of land availability.

But while state forests typically use certified plants, there are also plenty of small landholders, farmers and the odd council looking to plant trees but on a tight budget. This is where Meer Bomen Nu believes volunteer organisations can spring up…

Read the whole story here.

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