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New national park in Flanders could be created by linking forests
Four municipalities in Flemish Brabant are discussing creating a new national park by linking several existing forests, including the Sonian Forest. The plan would also see the creation of new woodlands.
Currently Flanders has one national park, the Hoge Kempen National Park in Limburg. While it is referred to as a “national park”, it is in fact regional in nature, managed by Flemish authorities and environmental organisations rather than at the federal level.
This new park would be the same, becoming Flanders’ second national park. “Our municipalities are sitting around the table now, looking at how we can realise this plan,” said Leuven’s climate city councillor David Dessers (Groen).
The project, known as Walden, would involve linking the Meerdaalwoud and Heverleebos, located between Leuven and Huldenberg to the south, with the Hallerbos – famed for its bluebells – and the part of the Sonian Forest that runs through Flanders.
The four municipalities, which also include Oud-Heverlee and Bertem, are working on the plan in co-operation with Flanders’ Agency for Nature and Woodland. “These four woodlands are currently not connected to each other,” said Dessers, “so we have to look at adjacent land as well.”
The idea would be to create more woodland to link the existing forests, as well as to preserve open spaces and develop walking trails. The municipalities have earmarked €20,000 for the initial research into the options.
Photo: Beech trees in the Meerdaal wood