The Dutch forests have become more varied. More different types of trees and plants are growing, according to the seventh edition of the Dutch Forest Inventory. Also, the forest surface is no longer disappearing as quickly as ten years ago.
The research was carried out by Wageningen University on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The researchers looked at the characteristics of the forest at thousands of measurement points throughout the country.
In total there is now about 360,000 hectares of forest in the Netherlands, about 11 percent of the land surface. Since 2017, the forest areas have decreased by 2000 hectares. This is a slight decrease compared to the previous study period: between 2013 and 2017 almost 10,000 hectares disappeared.
The felling of so-called temporary forests is the main reason for the decline of the forest. In the 1980s and 1990s, the government issued forestry contracts, which are now coming to an end. Those forests must therefore disappear.
In many areas, there are more different trees, especially in areas of forest where previously only conifers stood. For the first time since the start of the Forest Inventory, the share of deciduous tree species in the Netherlands is larger than the share of coniferous tree species.
According to the inventory, there is also more structure in the forests, which means that there is more variation in the density and height of trees and vegetation. The forests have become more open, allowing more light to reach the ground and allowing more plants to grow. There was more shrub growth at many of the measurement points than in the previous measurement.
The report also shows that there is more dead wood in the forests. Although it may not sound like it, it is very good for forest development as it attracts many plants and insects.