These hedges are hundreds of years old, we should cherish them

Marius Grutters

Marius Grutters (64) lives in Vierlingsbeek and is a familiar face among many nature and Maasheggen enthusiasts in the region. In 2010 Marius received from the hands of the mayor of Boxmeer a royal decoration, Member in the Order of Orange-Nassau. Author of two books about the Maasheggen, initiator of the NK Maasheggenvlechten and board member of Stichting Landschapsbeheer Boxmeer. In 2012 he received from the hands of the King's Commissioner the Brabant Cup for his more than special efforts as a volunteer for the nature of Brabant. In short, Marius knows the area like the back of his hand. We speak to him in the middle of the Cultural Historical Monument, at the Klokkekampen meadow fence.

What do the Maasheggen mean to you?

"My father had land in Oeffelt as a farmer; I grew up here. I come from the lineage of the last original hedge weavers. I remember my mother's stories, about my grandfather weaving hedges. When I discovered that for the last few decades only the English style was being braided, I adopted the original braiding style from this area and started working with a small group of people. It would be a shame to lose this unique braiding style."

"I have tremendous love for the area. I currently own four acres of land in Oeffelt and would like to expand that to 10 acres of contiguous land. On this land I am restoring the old hedge patterns that have been lost and bringing back biodiversity through sophisticated management of the hedges and meadows and sowing native seeds."

What do you think is the most beautiful spot at Maasheggen?

"I prefer to visit the Cultural Historical Monument. The upcoming NK Maasheggenvlechten on March 10, 2019 will also take place here. It's beautiful here and I regularly spot falcons, buzzards and sparrow hawks. Fantastic to see."

How might the Maasheggen area improve?

"There is a big task in terms of maintenance and expansion of the hedges and it remains a challenge to get sufficient finances for this. The UNESCO biosphere status can add value to the area in this regard. Above all, I hope it will lead to the resources to properly and structurally manage the Maasheggen. The basics have to be in order. Good care for the hedges by people who have the resources and the knowledge. These hedges are hundreds of years old, we need to cherish them. We cannot manage this on a large scale by machine. It's custom work. That's why I started doing it myself!"

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