This article is part of a new series: “Community Views”. Would you like to share your view of an aspect of living in The Hague? Please contact us.
Madurodam and the Scheveningse Bosjes: by Moji Ayan
I moved to The Hague two years ago with our three children. To relieve the stress of dealing with all the adjustments that comes with moving, I took lots of long walks with my children in the Scheveningse Bosjes. It was a haven for us. The long walks gave me time to de-stress whilst allowing me to gently pry out of my children the anxieties and worries they had with their new surroundings. It was equally a great way for my children to relieve their own tensions and to appreciate and enjoy the nature around them.
It was, therefore, to our utter dismay that we learnt that Madurodam was planning to cut down almost 4 hectares of this already small forest for expansion of their site.
My kids read the news and are aware of climate change and the importance of doing our bit to halt the degradation of the environment. They have visited Madurodam. It was one of the first sights of Holland they went to. It is a unique and valued addition to the attractions in The Hague. However, my children and I feel that the expansion of Madurodam at the cost of cutting down some of the forest, is misguided.
I am not against the expansion of Madurodam, but I believe they can achieve their goals within their current site. Madurodam and the Scheveningse Bosjes can co-exist: there are ways to develop whilst respecting the importance of this pristine urban forest for the welfare of the city. The forest is a living, breathing element that brings added benefits to the city and to Madurodam: located next to a busy high way, the forest buffers the effects of the pollution generated by the thousands of cars that ply those roads every day.
Madurodam needs to look at how it can evolve into a relevant 21st century attraction whilst respecting the environmental challenges of our times. There is an opportunity here for Madurodam to come up with a lasting plan that respects nature and does not involve cutting down any tree in the forest: clever architectural design and the use of cutting edge information technology can enhance the experience of visitors/tourists. They could open an architectural competition to explore creative ways to expand within its current space.
On a final note, I would like to challenge the city council to actively seek to protect the forests around the city. Yes, we live in a relative green city in comparison to others, but the city can do more and should not rest on its laurels. Cities such as Copenhagen (the European green capital of 2014 and at the top of the Global green economy index every year) are constantly seeking to set more ambitious goals of high environmental standards. The Netherlands ranks very low in terms of the percentage of forest cover in Europe (only 11%). The city council can and should play an important role in protecting our Bosjes for future Hagenaren and Hagenesen alike.
If you would like to help to protect the forest the petition website page is: https://petities.nl/petitions/stop-boskap-madurodam.