A forest starting from scratch, Source: Dilbeek Municipality

Dilbeek is home to Flanders' first co-op forest

Dilbeek is home to Flanders' first co-op forest

Residents can participate both financially and physically in developing it

Dilbeek, a small municipality on the western outskirts of Brussels, is home to what has been described as the first cooperative forest in Flanders. The initiative called Meer Bos (More Woods) is unique in the sense that it allows not only financial contributions but also active participation from its members so that they can feel more personally involved in the green revolution.

The co-op forest project is actually the result of the 2023 local citizens’ participatory budget where the initiative gained prominence allowing it to become a reality. Anyone wishing to be part co-owner of the forest can buy one or more shares, each priced at 250 euros.

Engaging green ownership

The money raised is used to buy land and saplings for the creation of the forest. This is a great way for any environmentally conscious person to actively and directly make their town greener if they wish to do that.

Many already do this by planting greenery themselves, but not everyone has the money and/or time for this. From now on, everyone can call themselves a forest owner through a modest financial contribution! The municipality's citizen budget provided the extra push needed to make this idea a reality,” explained Frederik Vandendriessche, who founded the initiative.

Several hundred native trees have already been planted by participants and the project counts with the support of the Flemish Environment Ministry as well.

That kind of good practice will be extended to other Flemish rural municipalities bordering the Brussels region, too. The project initiators say local interaction is crucial, as people are more likely to invest in local projects. Co-op forests give people the opportunity to see first-hand how their investments grow…literally.



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