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Holwerd Friesland

Greening the Frisian countryside: results 2022-2023

11 September 2023

Last year, Trees for All worked to plant landscape elements in the Frisian countryside. How are the trees and shrubs planted during the winter of 2022-2023 doing?

What are we doing in Friesland?

Landscape elements are trees and hedgerows that shape our landscapes. They were once a common feature of the Dutch countryside, but they’re steadily disappearing from view. Over the past century alone, 225 million metres of hedging has vanished! So Trees for All is hard at work on restoring landscape elements. In Friesland, we’re doing so in partnership with the Friese Milieufederatie, Landschapsbeheer Friesland and landowners in the province. And we’ve had great success!

In March, we went to the plot of Mijke Bos, along with several Trees for All corporate donors, to lend a hand with planting. You can see how that went in this video!

Our approach

Before the project started, the Friese Milieufederatie called on landowners in the province of Friesland to apply for having trees and shrubs planted on their land, if they owned a minimum of 500 square metres of available land. The idea met with plenty of enthusiasm.

Participant Mijke Bos says, “When we heard about this project, we applied straight away. It’s a good match for our objectives: greening our former orchard and stimulating biodiversity by planting trees and shrubs. We think it’s important to have more green, wooded areas in our surroundings. Then it would also be a place for schoolchildren to see and learn about everything that grows and blooms!”


The right tree in the right place

Landschapsbeheer Friesland assessed all the applications and held talks with the participants. This allowed a customised planting plan to be given to each participant, which suited the location, the land and the wishes of the owner. The participants were also given instructions for planting and managing the trees correctly.

The participants planted the trees and shrubs themselves in the form of landscape elements that suit their surroundings, including avenues and rows of trees, windbreaks, hedges, copses and solitary trees.

Indigenous species

The planting material comes from a local nursery in Friesland, with whom Landschapsbeheer Friesland has worked well in the past. A deliberate choice was made for native species and ones that are typical of the region, such as rowan, willow, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn, viburnum, privet, hazel, elm, birch, oak and dogwood. These are all species that belong in the Frisian surroundings or thrive well there, which means they have a very positive impact on biodiversity.


From left to right: Planting in the winter of 2022-2023 at various locations in Friesland

More than 30,000 trees planted

During the 2022-2023 planting season, the first 30,059 trees were planted at 39 different locations in Friesland. That’s a fantastic start! A second planting season will follow in the winter of 2023-2024, because a total of no fewer than 92,000 trees are to be planted.

Meanwhile, we can confirm that the first thousands of trees and shrubs have taken hold and we’ve lost hardly any trees. In any case, a small loss is normal and not every tree will survive in the end.

The plot of Mijke Bos in March 2023
The plot of Mijke Bos in September 2023

Participant Mijke Bos says about the planting on her plot, “The planting day was fantastic! We’d never expected so much help. It’s great when people support our plans and intentions; it gives us lots of energy. The trees and shrubs are doing really well, and I estimate that 95% have taken hold. And they’re growing really fast due to the changeable weather this summer. Lots of rain is good for nature!”

In the photos, the little trees are a little hard to see, but they really do grow there among the grasses and herbs!

Survival percentage

When planting new forests, it’s normal that not all the trees survive. We make agreements with our project partners beforehand about the percentage of loss that can be permitted within a project. This percentage is usually between 5% and 15%. If the loss is higher, due to unforeseen circumstances, then new trees are planted in the following planting season. This is also known as refilling. In this way, we ensure together that the forest gets off to a good start

Protection agains the Frisian wind

To get the bigger trees and the fruit trees off to a good start, the participants fixed them to stakes with ties. This ensures that the tree is firmly anchored for the initial years after planting. That’s a necessity in Friesland, as there are regular strong winds. After about three or four years, the big trees have developed enough roots to remain firmly in the ground, and the stakes are removed.

Bigger trees are fixed to stakes with ties, to protect them against the wind.

Developing landscape elements

In the coming years, the trees and shrubs will develop further. It’s expected that the biodiversity in the region will then start to increase rapidly. After all, landscape elements like trees and hedges are a source of food for all sorts of wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and small mammals like rabbits. They also provide shelter and a breeding place for wildlife. And meanwhile, Trees for All will keep monitoring the project for at least ten years. We can’t wait to see even more life emerging in the Frisian countryside!


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In the near future we are going to plant landscape elements in many more places in the Netherlands. Would you like to help us do this? Then support us with a donation!

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