Still this autumn (2023), the first new trees are to be planted in the Lovenpolder. The replanting of over 5-hectares of forest is part of the so-called forest compensation. In 2018, an area of 4.5-hectares of trees was felled at the Terneuzen Industrial Park due to the development of Ravago activities (reception of plastic products, logistics center). And due to expansion of Stedin's transformer station, 0.8-hectare was felled in 2022. The replanting will take place on land owned by Dow in the Lovenpolder and can start after the zoning plan is adopted. In this article, Bart Smet (Operations Leader Ravago) and Geerten van Dijk (Terneuzen Industrypark Leader) take us through the process.

Replanting 5-hectare forest
"If you cut down forest or trees, we have an agreement in the Netherlands to replant. This is called the replanting obligation. The new planting must be of at least the same quality as the greenery that has been cut down," says Geerten. "And since some more than 5-hectares were cut down for the Ravago and Stedin developments at the Industrypark, this will also be replanted in the Lovenpolder."

From felling to planting
The replanting obligation states that new trees must be planted within a period of 3 years. In proper consultation with the RUD Zeeland (Regional Implementation Service), a delay was granted for the replanting of Ravago, due to various reasons. Bart explains: "Several factors are taken into account in this kind of process. For instance, the site may not already be designated as a nature site and trees may not be planted just anywhere. In addition, replanting should be carried out near the felled forest as much as possible. Eventually, several locations were looked at, such as already existing forests in the region, and extensive consultations were held with local residents and other stakeholders. In the end, the choice was made to carry out the forest compensation on Dow's own land."

A forest at Lovenpolder 4
Why Lovenpolder 4 is a good location? Geerten explains: "The land is owned (by Dow) and it is close to the previously cleared forest. There has also been consultation with local residents and other stakeholders. Over 5-hectares will be planted in the first phase, with the possibility of expanding in the future for any other nature compensation routes (such as possible wetlands). In the meantime, the land will retain its agricultural use and be used for that purpose.

Consultation with local residents and Hoek village council
"Recently, we have involved the various stakeholders in the planning process," Geerten and Bart explain. "For instance, we joined several meetings of the Stichting Dorpsbelangen Hoek (Hoek Village Interests Foundation) and organised a virtual (because of COVID period) information session for local residents to provide answers to their questions and give an explanation on the forest. Furthermore, we have had good contact with the local poultry farmer to include his interests. Good arrangements were also made with the manager of the farm at Lovenpolder 4 (owned by Dow)."

Information evening
In coordination with the Hoek Village Council, a walk-in meeting was organized for local stakeholders at the Village Hall in Hoek on Tuesday 28 February. Interested parties could ask their questions, view the zoning plan and they shared some suggestions that in the upcoming period will be evaluated. As usual in this type of process, various studies were carried out to arrive at this draft zoning plan.

Trees, shrubs, herbs and grass
The forest plots will consist of trees appropriate to the sea clay polder such as Black Alder, Field Maple (Spanish Sycamore), Abeel, Black and/or Rattle Poplar and Willow. Furthermore, the mantle hem consists of an herbaceous hem and a shrub layer. "We are looking at planting local native trees from the region or possibly using local seedlings," says Bart.

Forest walk?
"Initially, the new forest will not be publicly accessible, this because the surrounding land is still 'farmed'," Geerten explains. "It is possible that we will open the forest to hikers and nature lovers at a later date. Until then, you can go for forest walks in the area just fine in, for example, the Braakman forest."

The first tree
Meanwhile, the draft zoning plan will be published. When will the first spade go into the ground? "As soon as the plan is adopted, we will start ordering trees. Our aim is to plant the first trees this autumn. Possibly 15 November (read National Tree Day) is a nice date for the start of the replanting of the new forest," say Geerten and Bart.

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Listen to the Podcast with Anton van Beek

Listen to the Podcast via the link below, in which Maikel Harte talks to Anton van Beek about the sustainable ambition of Dow Terneuzen.