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€3.5m for extra green space in Flemish periphery
Flanders is investing €3.5 million to make the Rand – the Flemish periphery around Brussels – greener and more attractive. Ministers Ben Weyts and Zuhal Demir have approved 24 projects that will see local authorities and nature associations creating more areas of accessible nature.
During lockdown, people spent more time walking, cycling and relaxing in nature reserves, forests and parks. In urban areas, the demand for more accessible parkland grew. Under the new funding agreed by Weyts, the minister for the Rand, and Demir, responsible for the environment, local authorities and nature associations in the Rand can submit projects to make their city or municipality greener and more attractive.
“We are joining forces with Zuhal and the local authorities for a green Rand,” said Weyts. “In the past, we have mainly looked at preserving what we had; now we are providing extra greenery and extra trees, we are going on the offensive.”
A total of 24 projects have been approved and given funding. “The Flemish have really rediscovered nature during this exceptional year,” said Demir. “Accessible nature locally is obvious for Limburgers, but in more urbanised areas such as the Flemish Rand, this is by no means self-evident. We are happy to go a step further with these projects.”
During 2020, meanwhile, 1,000 hectares of recognised nature reserves were added in Flanders, and accessibility was improved for an area of existing nature reserves of equal size. “In the past year, the call for accessible nature in the vicinity was louder than ever,” said Demir. “It remains our priority to make Flanders greener.”
During the year, Demir granted recognition to 12 areas managed by conservation organisation Natuurpunt, representing an additional area of 93.28 hectares. Non-profit nature association Limburgs Landschap also accounts for 91.18 hectares through two additional nature reserves. The Flemish government provided 813 hectares through four additional nature reserves, for a total of 997 hectares or 1,600 football fields of extra green space.
“An accessibility plan has also been drawn up for each recognised reserve, so that visitors can enjoy the nature that flourishes there without affecting the capacity of the area. It’s a win-win for people and nature,” said Demir. “
To be recognised as a nature reserve, a site must have important habitats, populations of native animal and plant species and environment of high natural quality and high biodiversity.
Photo (c) Sally Tipper