Why is this Belgian city handing out more than 2,000 trees to residents for free?

Antwerp wants to become increasingly green, distributing 2,000 free trees, garlands to hang between houses and contributing to the purchase of barrels for collecting rainwater

Antwerp is championing urban gardening with its “Buurt in Bloei” project aimed at transforming the city into a greener, healthier environment. The Belgian municipality is offering 2,000 trees free of charge to residents with gardens or unpaved spaces until September 30. Twenty types of trees, suitable for the urban setting, have been selected. A brief questionnaire assists citizens in choosing the right tree based on available space and sunlight.

This initiative seeks to cool down the city during summer, enhance air quality, and create habitats for birds and other wildlife. The project gained significant attention with a tram turned into a moving garden on Line 1, inspiring many citizens to engage in urban gardening.

Additional urban gardening programs

The program extends beyond merely distributing trees. Residents of Antwerp’s central district can request plants for “facade gardens”, garlands to hang between houses, and trees from the municipality. Additionally, the council offers financial aid for purchasing rainwater barrels, useful for watering gardens.

All the benefits of urban gardens

Launched in 2022, the project has successfully established over 200 facade gardens, 170 tree-lined areas, and 100 garlands. The district council handles ground preparation, lifting pavement tiles, and planting, while residents are responsible for maintaining the plants.

Urban gardens bring numerous benefits. Plants and trees help reduce the “urban heat island” effect, lowering city temperatures. They improve air quality by reducing pollution and can attract local wildlife such as birds and squirrels. Moreover, urban gardening positively impacts mental well-being: spending just five minutes in a garden can enhance mood.

In conclusion, Antwerp’s “Buurt in Bloei” initiative not only makes the city more verdant and livable but also actively engages residents in improving their surroundings, fostering greater ecological and community awareness.

Source: Buurt in Bloei

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