Sharp decline in Easter bonfires this year in Achterhoek region
There will be fewer Easter bonfires this year in the Achterhoek due to stricter rules. Fire safety, health concerns and environmental impacts are some of the reasons for the marked decline of the tradition, according to de Gelderlander.
Easter bonfires, or “paosbaokes,” are a centuries-old tradition in the Achterhoek region of the eastern Netherlands. However, they are beginning to disappear with tightening regulations.
Berkelland Mayor Joost van Oostrum has imposed more restrictions to ensure fire safety, according to de Gelderlander. In 2019, there were 80 bonfires in the Berkelland municipality. This year, this number will drop to 25 –– and only two of the fires are large enough to have event permits.
Aside from concerns over fire safety, another reason for the decrease in the bonfires is that people used them in the past to skirt rules about burning prunings, although the official end date for burning prunings is March 14. There are also more safety rules about the fires themselves, including new regulations about the distance between the bonfires and nearby buildings and a requirement for extra staff or volunteers to be present at the events.
Lung disease organization Longfonds has also weighed in on the health impacts of the Easter bonfires: “Easter bonfires are a beautiful tradition, but if you have health problems, you don't like it that much.” Meanwhile, the RIVM calculated that the fires make up 10 percent of annual woodsmoke emissions in the Netherlands.