A wilderness in Amsterdam? Most people not living in Amsterdam associate our capital with an asphalt jungle, rather than nature. Yet for the lover of plants there is so much to enjoy. Even though we are talking about planned nature. If there were one city in the Netherlands where the city council and its officials working in urban planning are very conscious of the value and the need for ‘green in the city’, it would have to be Amsterdam. From the old Vondelpark (constructed in 1864) that is global example of ‘green within the city’, to the area near the Noorder IJplas, where full-grown trees have been taken down with bulldozers to imitate the effect of a great storm. In short: in Amsterdam, man is working on nature.
In the most recent edition of ‘Plan Amsterdam’, a municipal publication about spatial development in and surrounding the city, the ‘new wilderness’ is the main theme. Following the motto ‘Between primeval nature and pavement garden patch’ the editor lists all the wild natural elements Amsterdam wants to realise.
There are three categories. Large-scale projects (the construction and maintenance of large parks like the said Vondelpark and the Amsterdamse Bos); the construction of ecological pathways, or so-called ‘green belts’, that will allow nature to enter the city; and ‘building with the inclusion of nature’: involving nature’s ‘wishes’ in planning and building, such as nesting bricks for sparrows and swifts and green roofs.
The ideal picture, as seen by the supporters of the ‘new wilderness’ is a collection of rougher natural areas, that will not be maintained by people – read: the city council – but by animals. ‘Biodiversity at a bike’s ride distance’ is one of the pay-offs of the cover story. And another: ‘the city as a natural reserve in a hostile see of green’, or: how many animals that do not thrive in the outer areas, will experience this new wilderness.