I was most distressed to hear about the plan to remove the trees and change the character of the parkland behind the Rivierforel in Leiden. As a visitor to the Netherlands from Canada, I have enjoyed many hours walking along the canal and listening to the wind and to the birds in the trees. The trees provide beauty as well as shelter, shade, and important habitat for birds and insects. I consider the area a rare natural refuge in an otherwise densely populated, urbanised country.
The positive health benefits of spending time in natural landscapes are well-documented; in a small country with few natural areas, it seems counterintuitive and ill-advised to destroy or alter natural parkland. Changing the extant landscape and land use would be devastating not only to the local wildlife, but to the residents and visitors who benefit from spending time in this beautiful, natural, and peaceful area.