April 11, 2021


Turfdôbe may well have become “the word” of the last 2 days. Until now never heard of it, but it is the reason that we can walk through wooded areas here. It is the Terschellings answer to the dry periods and the mortality of new plantings during the beforestation of the island.

This invention was made by the rangers of Vlieland and Terschelling to prevent the young planting from drying up in the mulle sand.

For this purpose, the so-called Turfdôbes were first dug in low-lying places. These pits of about 1 meter depth were full of groundwater. Then so-called bolsterturf was laid in this water that was supplied from the drenthe moorland areas. These turves then remained for about 4 to 6 weeks until they had completely sucked themselves into water. Such peat can absorb about 2 to 3 liters of water.

Terschellinger planting method

During planting the peatdôbe is placed near the roots in the planting hole. This feeds the tree during the drought and sucks itself full again in the wet period.

In 1910 the planting of these pine trees started and had to stop the spraying of the dunes. The fact that this has not been an easy work can be traced back to the circumstances under which this was supposed to happen. Most plantings took place on the high dunes of the so-called inner dune edge. Dry nutrient-poor sand on one side and wet long-term submerged plains just next to it. Add to that the harsh salty sea breeze, the thousands of rabbits and grazing cattle of the farmers and you can imagine that this is not an easy start. It is therefore thanks to the perseverance and inventiveness of the rangers at the time that a total of 600ha. forest has been laid out.

But before that happens, a few logistical hurdles have to be cleared. The loose cattle of the farmers, the dewatering of the wet dune areas. And also not unimportant: The construction of the necessary access roads. Until then, there are hardly any roads or paths in the dunes.


Around this time, the question arises; which tree species best suits this environment with all beforestation projects along the Dutch dune coast. Very soon it is concluded that the black pine and in the driest places in particular the seas are the only ones that hold out best. About 80% of all new plantings died before the use of the peat dôbe and the bolsterturf. In the wet valleys, mainly black alder and a single sitka fir are planted.

The peat, for this Terschellinger planting method, as it is also called. Is brought by ships and then taken by horse and carriage to the destination. Around the, in total, 15 peatdôbes, a generous workspace is kept open. These peat dôbes are still present and are maintained by Staatsbosbeheer, as silent witnesses of forest history. Spaces around the turfdôbe are kept open and visible.