In the LivingLab, tree biologist Dr. Ute Sass-Klaassen, together with students from Wageningen University & Research, reveals a comparative wood and tree ring study on the trees of the Amstelpark. In the exhibition in the Orangerie, visitors can experience how tree ring research works and the researchers will demonstrate the vitality of the trees in the Amstelpark. The study will again feature in the speculative court case Trial in the park – the trees speak out, in which Ute Sass-Klaasen will be heard as an expert.

Hot and dry summers, forest fires and floods – everyone is being confronted with the fact that our climate is changing. During heat waves, such as in 2018, 2019, and 2020, but also this summer of 2022, the trees contribute to a cooler city climate but also filter particulate matter from the air and provide recreational opportunities for millions of city dwellers.

The Amstelpark has fulfilled all these functions for 50 years. The approximately 300 tree species, originally planted for the Floriade in 1972, make the park a green oasis. But while this summer’s overheated city dwellers enjoyed their shade, the trees are exposed to high temperatures and drought. In addition, they also have to contend with increasingly poor soil due to nitrogen deposition and air pollution. You can already see this in the Amstelpark, especially in the dying Norway spruces.

In the LivingLab, researchers from the DendroLab at Wageningen University & Research demonstrate the vitality of various tree species in the Amstelpark from the inside. They do this by means of tree ring research because the tree rings form an archive of the life history of a tree. How fast do different tree species grow in the Amstelpark? How is their vitality? How did the trees experience the heat waves of 2018 and 2019? And what about the current heat wave? The growth of two oaks is monitored every hour; have they been able to grow in the heat of the past weeks? In the Living Lab, you can see and experience how tree ring research works. How were the trees sampled? How are tree rings measured? And above all, what story do the trees tell about their life in the Amstelpark?

In the LivingLab, the Amstelpark will be used as a test site for research into future-proof tree species and will be a place for discussion about opportunities to protect trees and forests and their sustainable management. Research and knowledge are needed to take action in Amsterdam as well, with regard to how we can protect not only people but also trees and forests from increasingly urgent threats.