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#Tiny houses in new created forests
Community Community TinyHouses

Build in 'green'

We have to be careful with nature and open space. But it is still possible to build in green, argues Guido Enthoven, founder of the Institute for Social Innovation (the Netherlands).
Tiny house in a forets with a man walking away
Image: New York Times

In the coming years, many additional homes per year are needed to meet the growing demand. In many countries of the European Union there is a plea to increase the building effort. It should also be possible to 'build in the green'. The reactions to this were predictable and partly justified.

Is it possible to combine both goals?

Many European countries are already densely built. We have to be careful with nature and open space. At the same time it is good to look at this issue with an open mind. Would it be possible to combine both goals, new homes and new nature?
Adults and children planting new trees
Planting a new forest

With the expansion of the housing stock, special attention is needed for starters and elderly homes and the sustainability of homes. The share of single-person households is growing and at the same time there are hardly any homes for this group.

A #Tinyhouse frame in the forest with 2 people
Tiny house construction in a forest

According to many, tiny houses are an interesting addition to the existing housing stock in the light of demographic trends. Tiny houses are relatively easy to move around, are often 100 percent off-grid (grid-independent), natural gas-free and completely self-sufficient and can therefore be easily occupied in places where infrastructure is lacking. Several dozen municipalities are experimenting with such forms. The ecological footprint of these homes is very small.

Forest most popular

The European Union must take major steps in the area of ​​climate policy in the coming years. Part of the solution is sought in the field of agro and nature. Forest and wood contribute to climate, recreation, water retention and biodiversity. Forests are the lungs of the world and are a form of above-ground CO2 storage.

Research by Wageningen University and Research Center WUR (the Netherlands) shows that forest of all landscape types is the most popular among the Dutch. People who give a low score for the landscape around their immediate living environment especially want more forest.

Meanwhile, a series of initiatives have been launched around the country aimed at the realization of (food) forests in combination with tiny houses. Provincial and local authorities will have to be able to make function combinations possible in their zoning plans. Governments can certainly make demands in terms of social integration; the new forms of buildings must fit into the desired image of the landscape.
A man with a blue coat standing at a tree in a food forest
Steve Mann, a permaculture designer and Cultivate KC volunteer, gives guided tours of a food forest. Installed and managed by Cultivate KC. Allison Long

Incidentally, the developments in the field of tiny houses also show gems of architectural design and architecture that greatly enhance the quality of the landscape.

In the Netherlands, the government, provinces, municipalities and water boards currently own more than 400,000 hectares of land outside the built-up area and outside the Nature Network. This land is now largely leased to farmers. A quarter of the agricultural entrepreneurs will terminate their business activities in the next ten years due to a lack of business successors.
An elderly farmer overlooks his cattle

Stopping farmers would like to keep their land owned. If 5 percent of this land is converted into forest in the coming decades, this will lead to a substantial expansion of the forest area. In combination with forms of (small-scale) occupation, governments, and with that the taxpayer, also become financially wiser.

A recent study for the ministries of LNV (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality) and EZK (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate) shows that in this way alone 20,000 hectares of new forest can be created in the Netherlands in combination with 60,000 tiny houses. In a circle of 15 kilometers around the cities this will provide for a large social need, for living and for green.

Cover photo: Finn-Lough Bubble Domes Fermanagh, Norhern Ireland. By: melanie

By: uido Enthoven. Image cover: photography Thomas Mayer Archive.