The question of managing the Schinveld woodlands is causing confusion. Sometimes we’re told that an area of 14 hectares has to be cleared of trees, and other times it’s a matter of topping a few trees. What exactly is the situation.
Under international safety regulations every civil and military airfield has to have specified obstacle-free zones. Several trees are currently protruding into the obstacle-free zone on the west side of NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen. The issue therefore does not involve an area of 14 hectares, as is incorrectly stated in many media reports; of course the number of trees is still slowly increasing as a result of natural growth season season. These trees are standing on the Dutch side of the border, on land owned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Defence and privately owned land. Accomplishment of tree management work needs to be authorized by a permit from the municipal authority of Onderbanken. The E-3A Component takes the view that the topping of trees will be sufficient to enable operational restrictions to be lifted and unnecessary flight movements avoided. The question of whether the trees should preferably be topped or completely cut down is a matter for the Dutch forestry agency, which is reviewing which of these options is better for the quality of the woodland. The Component has no say in this matter.