A plan to reforest the whole Netherlands by 2060 to create a holistic, eco-friendly, tree-based society. The project reveals possible scenarios of a radical green future, integrating trees into all areas of life. It is our responsibility to explore innovative proposals to change how we use the planet. Reforestation would improve the quality of life in cities, stimulate sustainable agriculture while strengthening our ecosystems through nature conservation.Trees are good for climate stabilization, soil regeneration, recreation, and general happiness. They can also provide nutritious foods, for example, different nuts, which could be made into hazelnut milk, acorn bread or cheese made of fermented walnuts. These have the potential to become Dutch staple foods of the future.
Northern Europe used to be covered by forest, but eventually, that forest was cut down for development of civilizations.
During my research, I stumbled upon the definition of Holland and was astonished that it derives from the old Dutch word for Houtland meaning woodland.
"The Netherlands," early 14c., from Dutch Holland, probably Old Dutch holt-lant "woodland," describing the district around Dordrecht, the nucleus of Holland. Technically, just one province of the Netherlands, but in English, its use extended to the whole nation."
The region mentioned was where the early Dutch would harvest its timber for building and boat constructions. Later the development of reclaiming land from the sea. Led to a boom in agricultural innovation. Available land was used extensively for farming, leaving no space for forest growth shaping the Dutch landscape and food culture that we know today.
A forest for me is a place so dense with trees that you cannot just walk into it. It doesn't matter how big or small they are. "Real" forests are an oasis of wilderness where nature can thrive without human interference. Once upon a time, before human intervention, most of the world we live in today was a forest. Then we built up our cities on these forests, forgetting that we belong to nature as well as 8.4 billion other species on this planet.
We need to redefine our interactions with our surroundings towards a more sustainable and permanent cooperation of all living beings.
Let's start with trees.
Therefore, I propose to completely reforest the Netherlands by the year 2060. Forests cover a third of all land on Earth, providing vital organic infrastructure for some of the planet's densest, most diverse collections of life. Functioning forest systems could be described as the largest living organisms on this planet. A factory of life, where countless biological processes create the most the base resource required for us humans to thrive: fertile soil.
Man lives by plants. Plants live in the soil. The forest is a kind of factory in which the life-force of plants is made by using plant biomaterial, assisted by bacteria and the elements of weather. This important resource is only effectively created by forests all over the world. And we as humans don’t even have to work for it. We just have to let the forest grow.
Recently we can observe a new awareness of trees. Dutch cities try to re-green concrete jungles and even the Dutch Institution for forest and nature developed an action plan to increase the tree coverage of the Netherlands.
Yet these efforts are not enough. Currently, the surface area of the Netherlands is only 11% covered with trees and is one of Europe's least wooded countries. On the other hand, the Netherlands is extremely productive relative to its size as a food exporter. Therefore the Netherlands rely deeply on its high-quality soil and innovation in the agricultural sector.
A lot of exciting new technologies are changing how we view agriculture; such as farming in silos, drone farmers, self-driving tractors and vertical farming, but I believe not every innovation has to be so flashy and futuristic. The latest trend of reshaping rural environments is pretty down to Earth. This trend is agroforestry, the art of planting trees.
In the future nuts will play a big part in the diet of the Dutch, such as Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Acorns.
Acorns are a neglected food for people, livestock, and domestic animals. Acorns are easy to collect, store, and process. In addition to the nutritious nut and meal, acorns yield an oil comparable in quality and flavor with olive oil. The existing acorn market could be greatly expanded and provide new income for rural people. A serious effort to identify and propagate the best oak acorn cultivars for these products is long overdue.
Acorns have been used as food by Homo sapiens for thousands of years virtually everywhere oaks are found. The worldwide destruction of the acorn resource by mismanagement may well have led to the development of annual plant based agriculture and to civilisation as we know it today. In Europe, Asia, North Africa, the Mid-East, and North America, acorns were once a staple food. Balanos is Greek for acorns, and balanoculture was first mentioned in an article by David Bainbridge to describe cultures who derive significant subsistence from acorns. Gathering and processing time for acorns is minimal relative to the labor required to grow annual cereal grains. He argues that the domestication of goats which prefer to browse oak seedlings, rising populations afforded by abundant acorns, and the cutting of trees for fuels, led to the demise of the great oak woodlands of the Middle East and China and the balanocultures they supported. Immediately following was the emergence of agriculture and the birth of granoculture.
It takes an Oak tree on average 30 years to begin bearing palatable fruit. Thus by planting an acorn today, one would help enable a renaissance in balanoculture by 2047.