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Forest on former seabed

In areas where the soil quality is low and where there is little rainfall, it can take a long time for a forest to recover. However, if the conditions are right, a forest can develop very quickly. To illustrate this, we went to Flevoland. Only 65 years ago we would not have been standing in the middle of the Hulkesteinse forest but in the middle of the Zuiderzee!

The youngest forests of the Netherlands

Most Dutch people think of nature in Flevoland as the Oostvaardersplassen. This makes sense, since this is a very special piece of Dutch culture-nature, which we can discuss with passion. But Flevoland has even more special nature: the youngest forests in the Netherlands and one of the largest deciduous forests in Western Europe [1].

The history of Flevoland is unique: it is the largest land reclamation project in the world. New land that had to provide space for the agricultural sector and the population of the overcrowded Randstad [2]. This is also reflected in the ways in which the forests are laid out here. On the Noordoostpolder mainly (sandy) soil less suitable for agriculture was used to plant forests, while in Southern Flevoland forests like the Horsterwold have also been planted on rich clay soil to make it as attractive as possible for new residents [1]. The province now has about 17,000 hectares of forest, and when you walk around you can easily forget that even the largest trees are younger than 77 years. The construction of the Voorster and Kuinder forests started in 1944, where - without the help of drones or other modern technologies - 150 kilometers of trenches were dug and hundreds of thousands of trees were planted manually [3].

Fast Growers

The trees in the forest where we were today are even younger. With their 4,000 hectares of continuous forest, the Hulkesteinseforest and the adjacent Horsterwold together form one of the largest deciduous forests in Western Europe. And that in a country where the density of trees per inhabitant is relatively low compared to the rest of Europe. This deciduous forest was created between 1973 and 1985 and the trees here are not even 50 years old [4]!

The rate at which this forest is developing has to do with the ongoing goal of using a large part of the forest for timber production. The new land offered the opportunity to experiment and a Populetum was therefore constructed during the construction of the Horsterwold. Various poplar clones (cuttings) had been planted there to gain insight into which cultivars would grow best in the newly drained polders. A few years ago, the population was “renovated”, and new species were planted for further research and gene preservation. This time not only poplar but also willow clones were planted, which are expected to have better resistance to watermark disease [5, 6].

Would you like to see the development of a tree up close? Take a quick look here for all the trees in our range, and show us how fast they grow on Instagram!

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