The Netherlands are to plant new trees on 100 thousand hectares of land. This was stated in the Actieplan bos en hout (‘Action Plan Forest and Wood’) by various parties, including Staatsbosbeheer, the Natuur & Milieu foundation and several stakeholders from the forest and wood processing industry.
Photo: The planted forest would roughly cover an area the size of the Veluwe (Google Maps)
They base this statement on research performed by Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Professor by special appointment in European Forest Resources at Wageningen University & Research. The plan is to be discussed during the national climate conference, which takes place today in Rotterdam.
The action plan serves multiple purposes, says Nabuurs. One is that it will help the Netherlands provide in its own resources to help achieve a sustainable economy. Currently, 90 percent of our wood is imported. The plan should also help achieve the Dutch climate goals. According to the promotors, the planting of trees, smarter forest management and more sustainable use of processed wood could potentially store between 4 and 4.5 million tonnes of CO2, which is about 5 percent of our total emissions.
Nabuurs believes climate goals and production increase are not mutually exclusive. ‘In various regions, the emphasis be put on the different functions of the forest’, he says. This will sometimes be purely for production, but other forests should continue simply storing CO2 as they grow older.
The Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture (LTO) responded negatively to the plans, which according to them would compete for space with Dutch farmers. The advocate also thinks that farmers too would be able to contribute to the climate goals. Nabuurs is surprised about this response. According to him, not everyone realises which far-reaching agreements have been made at the climate conference in Paris. In light of this, small steps are not enough. ‘Our entire society needs to be turned upside-down to achieve this’, he says. ‘And each sector will have to contribute.’