Nature-loving volunteers plant 485 trees at VUB

Nature-loving volunteers plant 485 trees at VUB

Wednesday 14 February 2024 – Students and staff of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) joined forces with a group of their neighbours on Valentine’s Day to plant 485 trees and shrubs along Nieuwelaan in Elsene. The diverse native species they planted will grow to become a green buffer zone between city traffic and the university grounds. At the same time, the greenery will contribute to the robustness of the cooling zone that the campus creates in the city. The citizen collective Bûûmplanters supervised the planting day.

This afternoon was all about love for nature at VUB, as about fifty volunteers rolled up their sleeves for half an hour to make the campus greener alongside the student housing on Nieuwelaan.

“We chose to use native trees and shrubs that are climate-robust and can help support urban biodiversity. That increases the chances they will survive the dry summers,” says VUB biologist Bram Vanschoenwinkel. The species chosen were blackthorn, hawthorn, guelder rose, blackcurrant, redcurrant and jute pear. “An additional benefit is that some of these plants also produce flowers at certain points in the year and provide berries for insects and birds. The blackthorn berries are also interesting for people. If you soak them in gin or jenever for a year, you get a delicious liqueur, sloe gin, which is a real treat.”

Open and green
​The VUB is an urban engaged university. To build bridges between its community and the city and create connections, we believe in the principle of an open campus. Rector Jan Danckaert values the fact that the community is making a concerted effort – on Valentine’s Day – to make the campus greener.

“Our community clearly supports us. Students, staff and locals showed their commitment to making our university a pleasant place to be. After all, extra greenery makes the environment healthier, more attractive and cooler. At the same time, the volunteers emphasised their love for nature and their willingness to work for the sustainability of our planet. That makes me hopeful for the future.”

Green-blue vision of the future
​The VUB campuses have great potential natural value, with rare plant and animal species. They increase the quality of life for everyone who studies, works and lives here. They capture fine particulates, act as sound insulation and form a cooling zone in the Brussels-Capital Region.

To protect this ecological environment against the consequences of climate change, the university has created a green-blue vision for the future. Smart regulations should make the greenery on campus more robust and future-proof. Grounds are mowed appropriately, lawns are converted into grasslands, and native and fertile plant species are favoured. Sustainable water management, in which rainwater is collected in natural reservoirs such as wadis and marsh to be reused later, should provide a solution to the problem of recurring drought.

The university carried out a similar greening project at the beginning of 2023, when 120 trees were planted alongside Triomflaan. ​



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Nathalie Vlaemynck
Nathalie Vlaemynck TIJDELIJK AFWEZIG - Woordvoerder en algemeen perscontact
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Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


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