Open VLD: Hedges alternative to failed afforestation projects

Not only is Wallonia fully committed to hedges, other neighboring countries are also working on it. For example, France wants to plant 7,000 kilometers of hedges by the end of 2022. The Netherlands wants to create 150,000 kilometers of forest by 2050. Several German states also have plans to plant more hedges, and the UK has historic hedges that they manage, protect and encourage expansion.

Cheaper

Van Hull also points out that planting hedges is much cheaper in the Flemish budget than planting forests: “Today, Flanders subsidizes new forests with 25,000 euros per hectare, while the costs of afforestation are really low. It costs 50 cents to cut and requires 2000 per acre. This means that the Flemish taxpayer pays mainly for the depreciation of the land. The soil you need to plant hedges is often already freely available: roads, field edges, and so on. So it will be more efficient and better for the budget.

Soon, Flanders will launch Hedges and the Hedges Action Plan. One of the targets in the Local Energy and Climate Plan is 0.5 meters of hedge per Fleming by 2030, which means 3300 kilometers of additional hedge. Today farmers already have a subsidy, but it does not run to a meter. Van Halle: “The grant is made through a difficult procedure and it is almost invisible. There are major communication campaigns in the national media for the afforestation projects and a total budget of 122 million euros. My proposal is to coordinate and speed up the implementation of these projects. The resources of the afforestation project should also be used for hedges.

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