Over 3.500 ha of Flemish nature restored thanks to European ‘LIFE’ projects
Over the past 30 years, Belgian nature conservation organization Natuurpunt and its partners have implemented 40 so-called ‘LIFE’ projects in Flanders, restoring more than 3.500 hectares of nature. The association announced this on Friday. LIFE, a European project to finance nature restoration, is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Saturday.
With the help of this funding, Natuurpunt has started up various projects to restore vulnerable nature, bring back supposedly lost plant and animal species and make areas accessible to visitors.
“In 1994, Natuurpunt (then called the ‘Belgian Nature and Bird Protection Association’) won the first Belgian LIFE project, Kwartelkoning (‘corncrake’, ed.). This allowed us to purchase and develop 234 hectares in various regions throughout Flanders and Wallonia, so that the vanished corncrake could find a good habitat again”, Stefan Versweyveld of Natuurpunt explains.
The number of breeding black-tailed godwits, redshanks, avocets and lapwings has increased spectacularly since the start of the first project in 1999.
One of the largest nature restoration projects in Flanders was the project in the De Liereman nature reserve, in Oud-Turnhout (Antwerp province). It was completed in September 2010.
Furthermore, thanks to three LIFE projects, Natuurpunt was able to restore the Uitkerkse Polder (near Blankenberge, West Flanders province) as a bastion for meadow birds in Flanders. The number of breeding black-tailed godwits, redshanks, avocets and lapwings has increased spectacularly since the start of the first project in 1999, Natuurpunt says.
Besides LIFE, another European programme is celebrating its 30th anniversary: Natura 2000, a European protected nature network. In Flanders alone, 62 areas are part of this programme, in the whole of Europe there are 27.000.
© BELGA PHOTO JONAS VAN BOXEL