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Volunteers help to clear rubbish left by tourists on Hautes Fagnes
Operation ‘Great Clean-Up’ took place this weekend on the plateau of the Hautes Fagnes. Thousands of tourists flocked to the popular nature reserve during the cold snap which brought heavy snow to the area, many leaving their rubbish on the hills and trails.
Now that warmer weather has arrived, around 40 volunteers made up of hikers, joggers and those used to the reserve’s more rugged parts set about clearing up the mess on Saturday and Sunday.
"The plateau of the Fagnes is very large but thanks to the hikers who could get to more remote parts we managed to cover the whole thing quite quickly,” said Cindy Gazon, the organiser of the operation.
“We know how to cover a large area in a short time, and by my reckoning, we are not far from cleaning about 250km in two days. With 40 people, in two groups, that’s fast and efficient work."
It was the Nature and Forest Division that had designated the areas to be cleaned and for the district chief of Malmedy, Joel Verdin, there were a few surprises: "The spatial dispersion of all this waste was unexpected, not only along the roads but also inside the forest paths, practically on the whole plateau of the Hautes Fagnes as well as in the nature reserve,” he said. “This is clearly linked to the presence of an extremely large influx of tourists, three to four times more than usual during the snowy period."
There were also a few surprises among the nearly 10m³ of rubbish collected. "We found an office chair, a quite heavy one,” hiker and volunteer Jérémy Lejoly said. “It wasn't the lightest object to bring down."
Most of the other waste was made up of food and drink containers – along with a large number of plastic bags filled with dog excrement.