Water company PWN is planning to chop down 13,000 pine trees in the region of seaside resort Bergen aan Zee to restore the original dune landscape.
The 16-hectare pine forest needs to go to make sure sand and sea water can blow through the dunes and reach the area beyond the forest, where high volumes of nitrogen are reducing biodiversity, the water company says.
But locals are furious at the plan, saying the project will decimate wildlife which has made the forest its home. “Nature does not need to be helped,” one protestor told RTL Nieuws.
PWN manager Niels Hogeweg told RTL that the dune area is reaching a point of no return. “The dunes can no longer recover because they miss calcium and salt from the sea,” he said. “We really have to act now.”
PWN expects the project will result in rare species such as the blue-winged grasshopper returning to the region.
But dune protection group Duinstichting aims to stop the plan, and has been campaigning against it for seven years. A similar project near Schoorle, which resulted in 7.6 hectares of pine trees being cut down, has resulted in “desolation”, the organisation says.
The Duinstichting argues that other flora and fauna make their home in the woods and that fir trees have been part of the landscape for centuries. PWN points out the pine trees were planted in the dunes some 100 years ago.
A lower court has already ruled in favour of PWN, but the Duinstichting is now appealing.
The dunes, and the dunes at Schoorl, are both Natura 2000 areas, regions identified by the government has having sensitive ecosystems which need to be protected.
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