Cutting trees at the Keukenhof

Earlier I mentioned that an avenue of beeches will be felled at the Keukenhof, and new trees planted instead. Reason for that is a widespread infection by fungi, which could lead to dangerous situations for visitors to the flower exhibition. 1Recent numbers used for a calamity plan mention an avarage of 15.000 visitors at any moment during the bulb season, with peaks up to 45.000. The species of fungi are: Korsthoutskoolzwam Kretzschmaria deusta and Honingzwam Honey Fungus. According to caretaker Ton Aker at least 10 trees in the avenue have already died over the last decade. A quick search shows that these are not the only ones: in 2007 a summer storm snapped some beeches in the wood of the estate, while in late 2006 a beech standing on the mount near the castle was blown down. Infected trees standing in the wood will be preserved as much as possible, only the beeches in the avenue will be felled.

The decision to cut down the complete avenue was taken in the Spring of 2009. In September 2009 the owner of the land, Stichting Kasteel Keukenhof, doubted the reasoning of Aker and postponed the plans for further research. Since then the owners have apparently been convinced of the necessity and decided in favour of the plan.
Work will be done in two shifts, which should lie no more than 5 years apart. Felling of the first trees will start in Summer 2011, so next Spring is a good and last chance to see the avenue in its fullest. (It won’t look more mature during our lifetime!)

Confusing processes
The plans concern 48 trees in total of which the first half will be done now and the second batch at a later stage -according to news articles. The new trees have been bought three years ago, so they should be of the same age even though the planting might be 5 years apart. But as we speak, there is only approval for the felling of 17 trees. At least: according their own minutes the Lisse council has declined a protest against the felling of 17 trees in the beech avenue. 2See page 3 of the pdf-file (number 5. 4519). The protest was submitted by, interestingly enough, the former director of the Keukenhof, Henk Koster. He was director between 1968 and 2002. Assuming 48 is the total number of trees to be planted, and taking Aker’s earlier statement about trees already lost in the avenue into account, the remaining total could currently be around 35 trees. Keukenhof is permitted to fell half that number in 2011.
But why does the responsible councillor, when asked about the protest and the decision taken, say it only concerns ‘8 to 10’ trees? Why the ‘spin’? Is the decision acceptable and correct when it concerns up to ten trees, and less so when it concerns 17 of them? Let alone 35?

And I wonder why the Keukenhof has asked permission to cut down only half the number of trees. It is possible that the chosen cutting scheme left the owners with no other option than to ask permission in two batches. Their mission is to maintain the image of a complete avenue ‘as architects J.D. Zocher Jr. and L.P. Zocher designed it’. There is a risk that this mission can not be not fulfilled. What if the (possibly new) council in 2014 decides in favour of a protest when permission for the second half of the trees to be cut down is needed?

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Recent numbers used for a calamity plan mention an avarage of 15.000 visitors at any moment during the bulb season, with peaks up to 45.000. The species of fungi are: Korsthoutskoolzwam Kretzschmaria deusta and Honingzwam Honey Fungus.
2. See page 3 of the pdf-file (number 5. 4519). The protest was submitted by, interestingly enough, the former director of the Keukenhof, Henk Koster. He was director between 1968 and 2002.

One Comment

  1. The trees are still there. For the second year in a row the decision to cut down the beeches has been postponed. The Keukenhof has now concluded that the trees need to be taken down all at the same time, not in two batches as they intended. That is the only information this (month old) news article provided:
    http://www.leidschdagblad.nl/regionaal/duinenbollen/article18368793.ece/Beukensingel-Keukenhof-Lisse-krijgt-jaar-respijt

    Last year (2011) the felling was postponed because different species of bats, living in the trees, were identified. This forced the Keukenhof to apply for a special release, as bats are protected species:
    http://www.noordhollandsdagblad.nl/incoming/article9549711.ece/Vleermuizen-verlengen-leven-van-beukenlaan-

    The decision to postpone the cutting another winter, places the actual cutting somewhere around this time next year. Just a few months before the local elections of (early) March 2014, making it a potential political minefield when the local population decides to stirr things up…

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