HVHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) students' plans for more trees in the Netherlands are highly regarded
Students of Forest and Nature Management Ard Overkempe and Paul Geerdink are the proud winners of the Bomen Nederland Studenten Challenge 2021. They made it to the finals today together with a second team from VHL University of Applied Sciences in Velp and five other student teams. Their challenge was to devise a plan for more and healthy trees in an already densely populated Netherlands. The winners received the prize of 4000 euros from the initiator, the 100-year-old company Boomrooierij Weijtmans.
Ard Overkempe and Paul Geerdink created ‘Handboek Het Bosdorp’ as team BNBoys. It is a manual for municipalities, planners and project developers to create sustainable, green neighbourhoods. This is their response to the rising demand for new homes. Ard and Paul are following the minor Trees in the Urban Environment and were shocked when they read the vision on urban trees. It states that trees are usually only part of the urban planning for a maximum of 40 years, much shorter than is customary in forestry. Therefore they recommend the creation of real forest bands of 40 metres around villages as ecological corridors. Subsidising timber construction as an incentive is also one of their recommendations.
The jury appreciated the user-friendly manual and how Ard and Paul challenged themselves to think outside the box. "You have delved deep into the matter, have factored in the potential problems and have strategies at the ready”, the jury said. “You have already entered into talks with public and private organisations.”
Besides the nice cash prize, the winners also received two invitations. Harry Koender, the National Coordinator for Uitvoering Bossenstrategie (Forestry Strategy Implementation), invited Ard and Paul to pitch their plan at a webinar on Forestry Strategy next week. The Province of North Brabant is also happy to talk further with the students. Students at the VHL University of Applied Sciences are working on the plan's implementation strategy.
The other team, The Tree Musketeers, from VHL also reached the top 3 in the Tree Challenge. Sven Bronda, Laura Delhaye, Renée Mudde, Jeanine van Til and Casper Thomassen tackle the rest stops along the Dutch motorways. In their plan ‘The road to the future’, they turn the rest areas into pleasant, attractive, sustainable, green places. The 60,000 trees and shrubs they can plant here will help reduce CO2 and capture particulates. “A plan with a future”, the jury judged. “With the cooperation of the Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Waterways and Public Works), this can be accomplished quickly and yield great benefits.”