Nature and Biodiversity

This Dutch scheme is using free trees to tackle climate change

planting trees, like this person is doing here, has been described as one of the more simple methods of tackling climate change

Meer Bomem Nu has come up with the idea of collecting young trees and shrubs from areas where they aren’t wanted and giving them away to civilians and farmers to replant. Image: UNSPLASH/Kasturi Laxmi Mohit

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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One Trillion Trees

  • Replanting saplings and shrubs could provide a free and sustainable source of trees.
  • A Dutch organisation has already replanted 250,000 trees and aims to spread its circular forest-management initiative throughout Europe.
  • The EU aims to plant 3 billion more trees by 2030.

Planting more trees is one of the simplest ways we have to limit climate change and remove carbon from the atmosphere. But, with many examples of replantation projects around the world, tree nurseries could soon struggle to keep up with the demand for saplings, one Dutch organisation believes.

Meer Bomem Nu has come up with a new and free source of young trees. It is collecting young trees and shrubs from areas where they aren’t wanted and giving them away to civilians and farmers to replant.

A single tree may produce many saplings each year, but not all of these will survive to become fully grown trees. They might be in a poor position, for example, competing with other trees for sunlight and resources. And these young trees are often unwanted or so abundant that a portion can be taken away without any negative impact, the organisation says. Similarly, cuttings and saplings can be taken from shrubs and bushes.

The organisation has dug up and rehomed seedlings that were growing too close to paths, overshadowing other plants or were in the way of new building work. By moving these naturally occurring young trees to better locations they can flourish, providing an affordable, quick and sustainable source of new trees.


Circular forest management

Meer Bomem Nu works with thousands of volunteers and has already transplanted 250,000 trees into 800 new fields and gardens. In winter 2021 it is planning to reach a million, and there are hopes this ‘circular’ method of planting could become more widespread throughout Europe.

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“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,” Hanneke van Ormondt, the campaign manager of Meer Bomen Nu, told The Guardian.

a map showing the forest area in million ha and share of fores area in total land area by country, 2020
South-West and South-East Europe have seen the biggest expansion in forest area over the past 30 years. Image: Forest Europe

Planting more trees

Europe has pledged to plant 3 billion more trees by 2030 with the aim of helping combat climate change and biodiversity loss.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?

The volume of forested areas in Europe has increased since 1990, according to Forest Europe, the body that coordinates political process and cooperation on forest policies in the continent. However, the rate of increase has fallen off and concerns have been voiced over the logistics of meeting tree-planting targets.

a map showing the annual change in forest area by country from 1990 - 2020.
South-West and South-East Europe have seen the biggest expansion in forest area over the past 30 years Image: Forest Europe

It is also important to note that although trees function as a crucial carbon store, they only do so while they are alive. So, deforestation has become a significant source of carbon emissions. One recent study suggested deforestation was so rife in parts of the Amazon rainforest that areas were emitting more carbon than they were absorbing.

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