Vesteda and four partners help set up Struikroven Academy

Vesteda, construction company Heijmans, ‘circular harvester’ New Horizon Urban Mining, social real estate manager Gapph and the NME Fund have joined forces to help Stichting Struikroven (Struikroven foundation) set up a Struikroven Academy. This academy will train local ‘Struikrovers’  (literally shrub bandits) from all over the Netherlands to work with local residents to save plants and shrubs in the event of new-build or redevelopment projects in their neighbourhood. This will help create a nationwide network of Struikrovers.

Struikroven has been expanding its activities in the Netherlands for some time now. More and more landlords or project developers now call on the organisation to work with local residents to save plants and shrubs from destruction, giving them a second life in the neighbourhood. This scale-up to a nationwide network of Struikrovers seemed like the logical next step. The Struikroven foundation’s mission is to become an integral part of every demolition, renovation or new-build project in the Netherlands. The organisation is now accelerating this mission, thanks to the financial support of its five chain partners.

“We are enormously pleased with the investments of these organisations, which will help us to scale up our activities”, says Bernice Kamphuis of the Struikroven foundation . “The local Struikrovers, who we will soon be training, will be the ground troops in our mission. Creating local departments will help us to shorten lines between us and local parties and residents, putting us closer to the table at an earlier stage in the process”.

Pieter Knauff from Vesteda is also enthusiastic about the collaboration: “We fully support Struikroven’s initiative. By protecting existing plants from destruction, we can help maintain biodiversity and boost liveability and that feeling of community so important in new residential areas. Nature connects! This is fully in line with our own mission to make sure our investments improve the sustainable quality of neighbourhoods and districts.”

In late February, online platform The Happy Activist will launch an online recruitment campaign for the new Struikrovers and make a selection from the applicants. The Struikrovers-to-be will start the first training course in April. This will cover various elements, such as a basic knowledge of ecology, community-building and path-finding. After the summer, they will then get down to work in the name of the foundation as local Struikrovers in their own region. Struikroven expects to have at least 10 teams active across the Netherlands by the autumn.

Struikroven started out as a neighbourhood initiative in Eindhoven and has now spread right across the Netherlands. The disappearance of trees and plants in new-build and renovation projects is a national problem: in Amsterdam alone, we have seen the disappearance of 600 football pitches worth of green areas over the past few years due to new-build developments. Struikrovers work with local residents to save the existing plants and shrubs from front and back gardens and plant them elsewhere in the neighbourhood. All these plants a given a second life in the gardens of local residents, in public spaces, schoolyards or in a Rover’s garden (a temporary garden, where plants are kept until they can be replanted after the completion of a project). You will find more information (in Dutch) at: www.struikroven.nl.