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'We are nature': Brussels group launches conservation campaign

11:29 20/06/2023

WeAreNature, a Brussels non-profit association, is calling for a moratorium on the destruction of nature in the Belgian capital and is leveraging the legal system in that battle.

“In the face of the destruction of green spaces in Brussels, the association We Are Nature is launching a lawsuit to hold the regional government accountable: that it honour its environmental commitments and stop granting building permits on natural areas in Brussels,” the organisation said.

“The wetlands in your neighbourhood? Soon to be replaced by a building,” they warn. “The forest at the end of your street? Soon to be cut down for a car park.”

A video published on the website criticises the Brussels government for its lack of action on climate policy and cites the effects of climate change on the region, including an increase in destructive weather events such as the fatal floods in Belgium two years ago.

Specifically, the collective wants natural areas such as the Josaphat and Donderberg nature sites to be given protected status and removed from the category of buildable areas.

“Citizens are increasingly turning to the courts to make their voices heard, and this is the approach we are now taking,” said the collective, which is urging the Brussels government to "take responsibility".

A manifesto calling for a halt to urban development projects that result in the destruction of natural areas in the Brussels region was signed by no fewer than 27 associations and 40,000 citizens last year, but the collective said it had received no response.

Member Bernadette Stallaert said the group is therefore reiterating the call: “We urgently need to anticipate climate change in Brussels. If the government does not respond to our request, we will take our case to court in September.”

Written by Helen Lyons