The ‘greenery man’ of Zuidas

To keep a close eye on and upgrade the quality of greenery, both existing and new – this is the primary task of Jeroen Assen, urban horticulture specialist. He does not work at a desk and can virtually always be found on the streets.

Assen coordinates around 35 small and large greenery projects in the Zuidas district this year. ‘I’m a real green man. And I see how important plants and trees are to people in Zuidas.’

A lot of green space is disappearing with the development of Zuidas and the construction of Zuidasdok. That makes nobody happy. ‘Greenery impacts perception,’ explains Assen. ‘so I understand that people are emotional about it. At the same time, I hope we can make it clear that new plants and trees will be replanted and we invest a lot of energy in protecting existing greenery.’ An example of such protection is the boomtonde or tree roundabout on Beethovenstraat, for which Assen made a huge effort. There is a tree right in the middle of the temporary bike path, which Assen managed to preserve by guiding cyclists around it.

The ‘tree roundabout’ on Beethovenstraat

De Boomtonde

Deze 50 jaar oude Platanus x hispanica staat lekker in de weg! Om de uitbreiding van het WTC Amsterdam mogelijk te maken is er een tijdelijk fietspad aangelegd, zonder dat deze boom er last van heeft of zal krijgen. De boom maakt onderdeel uit van de Amsterdamse hoofd bomenstructuur en is daarmee planologisch beschermd. De kratten onderin, zorgen er voor dat de boom kan blijven ademen.

Geplaatst door Amsterdam Zuidas op Maandag 13 augustus 2018


Greater value for everyone

New greenery in Zuidas is of high quality and meant to last for generations. At the same time, says Assen, it has just as much value for the surroundings – perhaps even more. Assen mentions the Zuidelijke Wandelweg as an example. ‘The water retaining green strip and trees that were installed there add lots of value. The new green is more pleasant to look at as well as more varied. Plus it does not cause any nuisance. In the old situation, the trees did not have enough space to grow. And because the rainwater runoff was inadequate, rain and snow caused huge puddles that were a great nuisance for people and traffic. All this is in the past now.’

Special green team

Twelve months ago, Zuidas appointed a special green team that includes members from other areas of expertise. In addition to urban horticulture experts, members are knowledgeable about biodiversity, design, urban development, and project management. Together they ensure that the measures set forth in the ‘Plan for a Green Zuidas’ are implemented. Assen enters the scene once it is clear that a new plan is feasible from a technical perspective. He is responsible for correct implementation of such plans. Are purchased materials (such as plants and soil) of the desired quality? Are tasks undertaken at the right time? And is maintenance adequately organised? Three years after a greenery project is completed, its management is handed over to city district Zuid.

Water-regulating green strip on Zuidelijke Wandelweg Photo: Kees Winkelman

Quality over quantity

In the coming five years, Zuidas will implement measures to stimulate urban greening in this area. Development of Zuidas and Zuidasdok means that more greenery will disappear than is planted. ‘This is a fact, so it is important that newly planted greenery are of high quality. Less green does not necessarily represent deterioration. As an expert, I see that plants and trees that are planted too close together cannot develop properly. The way we look at greenery here means that the growing conditions are improved and the green variety increases. A large, mature tree will not have to be cut down after fifteen or thirty years because it is in the way. And more importantly, the green spaces we create are interconnected – which is much better for birds and insects.’

Tree project of the year?

The new approach might be rewarded in the near future, when it will be announced whether the VHG industry association is nominating Mahlerplein square as its ‘Tree Project of the Year’.

Mahlerplein Square, June 2018, during the WeMakeTheCity festival Photo: Kees Winkelman


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