Wednesday 22 March 2023

Donate a sapling day: green organisation wants gardeners’ gifts

A ‘tree hub’ of saplings ready to replant  Photo: S. Boztas

A small Dutch charity is asking people to collect tree seedlings from their gardens and hand them in at 200 locations around the country on Saturday, so that they can be replanted.

Meer Bomen Nu, created by climate activists from the pressure group Urgenda, aims to collect a million plants in total to donate to farmers, city councils and private land owners.

The organisation also works with 3,000 volunteers and forest areas such as Amsterdamse Bos, to collect and sort saplings that need to be cleared from pathways and which are unlikely to survive in the shade of mature trees.

Last year, it gave away 250,000 plants despite the winter lockdown, according to campaign manager Hanneke van Ormondt, and this year it aims to quadruple its work.

The Netherlands has a goal of planting 37,000 hectares of wood by 2030, an area four times the size of Utrecht and an increase of 10% in the country’s wooded area. The forest strategy is related to the country’s pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to increase biodiversity.

Meer Bomen Nu, which last year won national attention for helping a farmer give away 150,000 pear saplings at the height of the summer, believes that by replanting cuttings and saplings that would otherwise be destroyed or lain aside, private landowners can play a role in mitigating climate change.


‘Saturday is the national donate a seedling day, when we call on all Dutch people to look in their own gardens and go to one of 200 locations in the country to hand them over,’ said Van Ormondt.

‘Typically in the garden you have one tree and lots of seedlings you don’t want, because one tree is enough; normally people mow them away and they come back next year. It’s better to pull them out and it’s even better if somebody else is happy with them.’

She added: ‘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. We hope people would donate 20 cents for a tree, and we are building a website, The Tree Planner, where everyone has a profile and can see everything available within 20 km.’

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