Zwin nature park launches accessible walking guides

The Zwin nature park in West Flanders has developed a new walking guide with tactile maps and audio descriptions to make the area more accessible to people with visual impairments.

The multi-sensory guide starts with a tactile plan of the park, on the Dutch border, with trails indicated with a raised dotted line and areas of dune, water and forest clearly marked. There are five stops along the route, each with an accompanying photo and tactile map.

“The Zwin nature park holds accessibility for the public in high esteem and achieved the accessibility label A from Tourism Flanders in 2018,” a park spokesperson said. The guide was produced with Anymedia, an expertise centre specialising in accessible communication and media. Copies can be borrowed for free from the park’s welcome desk.

Meanwhile, the park’s management last week presented the initial results of a project that studies the migration routes of storks. Scientists at the Zwin have been carrying out research on the birds for several years with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

By equipping young storks with transmitters, they have been able to map migration routes and gain a better understanding of their winter activities. The transmitters show that the birds continue to migrate more regularly than expected towards West Africa and that most return to the Zwin after their first winter migration. 

Though storks migrate naturally to Africa in winter, the presence of vast refuse dumps on the Mediterranean coast - which provide vast sources of food - seems to be keeping them more frequently in Spain and northern Morocco.



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