Volunteers Take Forests to People

In the Netherlands, also known as Holland, a landscape architect has dreamed up a project that brings trees to people.

Bruno Doedens and the late Joop Mulder, who was his longtime collaborator, thought up the project. They wanted to reduce pollution and waste and to improve biodiversity, which refers to the variety of life in a certain area.

The project’s name is Bosk, which means “forest” in Frisian, a local dialect spoken in Leeuwarden. Leeuwarden is the city in the northern part of the Netherlands where the project takes place.

The native trees are planted in 800 wooden containers on wheels, and there are a total of 1,000 trees. Each container holds a few trees. The containers are moved along a route that is a little over two miles long. Volunteers move the containers by pulling them on one end and pushing them on the other.

The route goes through the center of town. People of all ages like the idea of the project and want to help.

The walking forest happens during a limited time each year, and people must find another place to park when the trees are moving. Some people don’t like that inconvenience. Eventually, the trees are moved from the wooden containers and planted around the city. Some of the different native species of trees include alder, ash, elm, oak, and willow.

The walking route for the “forest” has several stops. The first one is a spot called Stationsplein, outside the city’s train station. When volunteers park the containers for a little while, there are seating areas between the trees where people can rest and enjoy the calming effect of the trees.

A nearby hotel offers picnic baskets to guests if they want to eat in the shade of the trees. A local brewery developed a special beer named after the project, and a percentage of every sale is donated to a national tree planting program.

Bosk is part of a triennial art festival called Arcadia that includes many activities to help reconnect people with nature. There are debates, exhibitions, performances, and other artistic creations.

If you want to learn more about this project, look on page 29 of The Guardian Weekly’s August 12, 2022 issue. An article by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues gives many interesting details about this walking forest.

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