Stichting MEERGroen strives for a world that is in balance with its surrounding ecosystem. In the process of creating this world, MEERGroen does not want costs and output to be leading but rather the ecological balance and the enjoyment of creating a greener world together. That is why we focus on bottom-up ecological management, nature development and urban farming. We strongly believe in involving citizens, companies and governments in that process.
M.E.E.R. in MEERGroen ( MORE Green!) is an acronym that stands for the values that we pursue:
Learning by doing
Our motto is learning by doing. This way you will learn the most. People develop a higher level of understanding and insight in the endless and inspiring complexity of the ecological systems that we are part of and connected to.
The objective of our projects is to offer citizens the opportunity to learn, perceive, experience and grow their affinity with all that we do. We hope to show all participants that taking responsibility and action will result in more social and ecological balanced living environments.
Driven by our concerns that we as a society are careless in the way we treat nature, we are always looking for persons and organizations that we can partner with to make a difference. There are many crises and transitions that are coming our way (climate crisis, problems with overfishing, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, amongst others). We believe that it is time to change our consumption model and offer citizens other perspectives and the possibility to actively contribute and participate. This is what we hope to do with all our projects.
For background information on the MEERGroen foundation, see here.
Since 2011 MEERGroen has grown from 40 ha and 400 volunteers per year to more than 50 projects on about 1000 hectares of land in the Haarlemmermeer region and nearly 1800 volunteers in 2022 ( and 6000 more via the Meerbomen.nu activity in The Netherlands). We work according to the principle that there is something interesting to do for everyone. During each day of the week, you can get involved in about 25 different areas of interest: heavy or light.. There is always a variety of on-going projects; nature preservation, urban agriculture, the building of insect hotels, the creation of orchards, the building of nature play areas and the education and support of interns and youth activities. A core group of about 150 volunteers is running all projects and welcomes the help of apprentices and companies on team building or sustainability days. Below, you can read about our on-going projects.
You might know us from the many flower meadows (25 ha) we created since 2007. Every year the flowers bloom again with the right management. We develop flower meadows for every biotope: from orchid meadows on marshy soils, dune valleys, annual poppy fields, two yearly meadows, with perennial species and herbs and spices, forest edges, and vertical gardens, to name a few. You mostly find them along the IJtocht in Hoofddorp and at different locations in Heemstede.
At MEERGroen, we are working on different nature preservation projects. This means we are responsible for the ecological preservation and management of forests, orchid meadows, kingfisher walls and educational trails. We also manage orchards, fruit parks, urban farming and greenhouses for food production. We are responsible for the management of estates, parks and green urban areas.
We are actively involved in urban farming and run projects like the food garden of Park 2020 in Hoofddorp, the Nanninga garden, Gardens in Mariënheuvel estate and 1 ha greenhouse in Rijsenhout.
During autumn and winter, one of our activities is building insect hotels and bird and bat nesting boxes. We then place them in nature during spring and summer, involving children and elderly people.
We are responsible for the creation and the maintenance of nature play areas like the 6 ha Naztur Playground Meermond in Heemstede and the Pop Up Park (PUP) on a public square in Hoofddorp.
This concept focuses on using saplings, that can be found in nature in often neglected public and private green spaces, and giving them away for free, so they can be relocated and replanted in places where new forests are being created. There is an abundance of saplings in nature, of
which many normally don’t survive due to lack of light or are removed as weeds. Rescuing these trees from nature, saves 5-20 years time in producing those trees in nurseries. Increasing the forested area can be a significant ally in our fight against climate change, since it helps in capturing CO2 (1kg of wood fixes 2 kg of CO2) and it improves biodiversity. This activity is now happening on a national scale, under the name of the ‘MeerBomenNu’ (“MoreTreesNow”) project. In 2 years, almost 900.000 seedlings have been saved and distributed. We hope that the idea and initiative will spread across Europe and beyond.
We are living in the Anthropocene, the geological era in which human activity has a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. The number of people on this planet is still growing. We live as if infinite growth is possible in a finite ecosystem. That ecosystem groans and moans under the influence of man: climate, plastic soup, land degradation, decreases biodiversity, etc. In politics and business, urban consumers and voters determine that more vacations, more cars and ever-lower prices are needed. This is a race to the bottom.
The MEERGroen foundation tries to put the urgency of this ecological tension on the map, and at the same time develop positive action perspectives to do things differently. We call this the ‘1+1 = 5’ model: good for you, good for me, good for society, good for nature, and according to a model that can last another 100,000 years. Many people worry about dying bees, for example, but then become beekeepers and start keeping honeybees. Honey bees are not struggling at all, wild bees are and they are dying out because of 1) lack of wild flowers; 2) poisons and 3) competition from honeybees. With our biodiversity and wild bees projects, we want to: better manage our acreage of 1000 hectares of ecologically managed public green (including 17 hectares of flower meadows of 10 types), and significantly expand the area and civil participation. Our goal is to improve knowledge and support amongst citizens, companies and governments, to increase flower meadow acreages for wild bees, honeybees and humans. And of course we hope for a lot of followers.
The target group of this project is urban citizens and office workers. In this target group, neatness and affordability, in the form of pubic greenery such as lawns, have become so important that it has become a threat to the biosphere and thus to our entire society. It is too much about money, concrete, vacations and technology. Everything that has made us human over the past 10 million years is rapidly being lost: the value of the natural environment, of working together, and of a society that can last another 100,000 years for our children. If we roll up our sleeves together and work with nature, instead of complaining about what is not to our liking, everyone will benefit: less obesity, more resistance to Covid and influenza, more nature, more social cohesion, more biodiversity, a climate in balance and more support for a future-proof society.
For more than 10 years, the MEERGroen foundation has been building support and respect for our natural environment. We do this through:
The call to plant more trees to slow down climate change is huge. 1 kg of wood fixes 2 kg of CO2, so 100 million km2 of forest is needed to fix the 160 gigaton of excess CO2. At the speed we are currently planting trees, tree nurseries won’t be able to keep up with the demand for trees in the future. In the Netherlands, where the government aims ot planting 37,000 hectares of trees in the next 9 years, we as MEERGroen are sure we will soon run short on trees. For the UK and other European countries we expect similar issues.
Let’s take a different look at nature, there are plenty of trees to be found!
Every oak or birch tree produces hundreds or thousands of offspring each year. Only a handful survives and gets the chance to grow into an adult tree. Many of these saplings have a role to play in nature: they get eaten and thereby provide animals with a source of food. In addition, they feed the soil and provide shelter for all types of animals. The abundance of saplings is also useful in terms of survival of the species, the more trees the greater the chance a tree can reach its full potential. Yet, in many places there are saplings that are unwanted or grow in such abundance that a percentage can be taken without a negative impact. The same goes for saplings of young shrubs and shoots. Every cutting from an elderberry, willow, poplar, fig, or buddleia can become a new tree or bush.
By moving young trees, shrubs and shoots from places where they are will die due to lack of sunlight or are unwanted towards places where they can grow into an adult tree, we can rapidly increase the number of trees in the EU. In an affordable, quick and sustainable way! This circular tree planting method has another benefit: working together with foresters, farmers and volunteers also adds a much-appreciated social layer to the fight against climate change and mission to restore nature. And we gain must needed 5-10 years in relation to trees seeded in nurseries!
The Dutch campaign MeerBomenNu (“MoreTreeNow”) collects young trees and shrubs in nature areas and parks to give them away for free to civilians and farmers who want to plant them. With thousands of volunteers, we collect birches where they overgrow the heather, we collect seedlings that are too close to a path, young shrubs that need to make way for buildings, or we collect a ecologically responsible amounts of seedlings in places where they grow in abundance. We only harvest with permission of the forester or landowner. Last two winters MeerBomenNu transplanted 850.000 seedlings from knee- to man height and 80% survived. So far 2000 volunteers have helped with harvesting the trees that ended up in gardens, fields and farms of more than 800 unique civilians and farmers. The coming winter season, we aim to reach the goal of two million transplanted trees. As last year the subscription for ‘ one million free trees ‘ sold out in less than 4 days, we are very optimistic on surpassing the 2 million goal coming winter. Our MeerBomenNu working season stretches from November to March, in the planting season we are always busy with searching for harvest locations, harvesting trees with volunteers, and to move the saplings to plant-locations and tree hubs.
The MeerBomenNu method was initiated in 2009 by ecologist Franke van der Laan from foundation MEERGroen. Van der Laan invented this innovative yet simple method of transplanting trees, and sought the collaboration with Urgenda. The Climate organization Urgenda, internationally known for the Climate Case, aims to embed this circular method in all Dutch nature management to fulfil climate and biodiversity goals. The Caring Farmers, a growing group of farmers concerned about the environment, helped by planting 100,000 trees. As Meer Bomen Nu, and many other partner organizations believe this method could be adopted in many Northern European countries. Even more with the help of our newly developed online tool – the TreePlanner – which enables foresters, planting locations, volunteers and tree hubs to align supply and demand of saplings locally and regionally.
On December 10th 2021, the executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans and the Flemish minister for Nature, Zuhal Demir, transplanted the first Belgian trees with MeerBomenNu. Under supervision of the Belgian forestry department in the Zonienwoud, they dug out a young oak and wild cherry that grew in a place where they could not survive due to lack of space. The trees were planted 300 meters down the lane in a garden of a couple from the town of Hoeilaart citizens, who are very happy with the trees. All present were very enthusiastic about the tree-transplanting method as it could greatly speed up tree-planting plans to combat climate change and restore biodiversity. Last winter, MeerBomenNu replanted 850.000 young trees, shrubs and shoots in the Netherlands with an 80% success rate. This method could be applied in all Northern European countries, which has made a start in Belgium. For more information on this day, click this link to our website: https://meerbomen.nu/over-ons/in-english/
Find some additional international resources here on how it works and how to get involved: