When you pass Flanders in Belgium on the national roads you are like driving in one big city. There does not seem to come an end at the endless ribbon development.
According to environment minister Joke Schauvliege Flanders gained 1,200 hectares of listed nature reserve last year. This is marvellous news, certainly when with the last storms so many trees where brought down; In my village it looks like big bulldozers have gone over the many fields and woods. Several woodlands now look more like a few trees on a little piece of land. You can see through them.
Several existing reserves where extended and some of the natural areas have been added to the list for the first time. The minister may be proud announcing the total area of nature reserves to 16,318 hectares. The newly listed natural areas represent the largest annual increase ever recorded in Flanders, but it is still a blot and a drop in the ocean.
The largest new area is the 130-hectare Lovenhoek nature reserve, which straddles the municipalities of Vorselaar and Zandhoven in the Kempen region of Antwerp province. This has been listed by the government because of its “rich biodiversity”, which supports more than 1,500 rare species.
The list also includes the ancient Flemish wetlands known as Opstalvallei in Stabroek where 200 different birds can be seen as well as the Abeek Valley on the Kempen uplands, which is described in the government report as “a hotspot for insects and spiders”.
The new list includes the Blankaart wetlands near Diksmuide, which provide an ideal habitat for migrating birds. The town walls of Damme, near Bruges, have also been put on the list because the reeds that grow in the shallow moat provide an excellent natural habitat for several species of rare birds.
The Flemish nature reserves are eligible for special grants because of their ecological importance. The funding goes to ensure that they are protected and wherever possible open to the public.
“Nature reserves form the backbone of our natural heritage,” Schauvliege said. “That is why I have made it a priority in 2013 and 2014 to catch up on the backlog.”
The minister said that she hopes to list a further 1,500 hectares in 2014.
- “Forested area in Flanders increased by 5 percent” (deredactie.be)
Two years ago, the wooded area in Flanders was mapped using digital air photography, in a project called “Boswijzer”. This was a first for Flanders. All trees taller than 3 metres and covering at least 0.5 hectares together, were mapped as woodland. According to the data collected two years ago, Flanders had 177,000 hectares of wooded area. Now, this has increased by some 5 percent to 185,000 hectares, the minister claims citing the latest research.
Every Flemish province has more woodlands compared to 2011, the study reveals. The biggest increase (in absolute figures) can be seen in Antwerp (+2,798 hectares), while East Flanders enjoyed the biggest increase in relative figures (+10.3 percent).
“These woodlands are the result of private initiatives or government reforestation projects”, explains Ms Schauvliege. “Flanders historically has a lot of industry and urban space. However, with the open area that is left, we try to create new woodlands or we give subsidies to local authorities.”
- The War Starts Here! (trekbikes.typepad.com)
This is where bicycle racing is real. This is where it all starts for all of us. This is where the men are tough and women are tough also. (They have no choice) I recognize that it’s a big world out there and bike racing happens other places in the world. But, in the end there is only one Belgium. Belgium is the galactic center of cycling afterall. Cycling is somehow in the water here. I think babies are shown how to shave their legs in the hospital, handed a cycling cap and a training program and sent out the door with a learner bike.The rest of the cycling season could go away forever, and Belgium would not actually change at all. Hordes of crazy fans would still turn out to see their countrymen smash cyclocross races, semi-classics, the classics etc… Those races would just keep on marching. It is a glorious place.
- Flanders Today launches new website (flanderstoday.eu)
Flanders Today launched in October of 2007 – exactly six years ago – to provide you with news and information on Flanders and Brussels in English. The rate at which you subscribed to this little weekly newspaper astounded even us; we went from 14,000 copies a week to 28,000 copies – and counting.
- Biogas in Flanders (lowcostbiodigetser.wordpress.com)
Because the added value of biogas in Flanders is unmistakable in the 2020 goals the government will have to give more attention to this. This sector is 13 percent of the renewable energy total and lead to a great reduction in the emission of CO2. Also the big manure problem in Flanders is been solved by biodigesters. More than 45 companies and 450 jobs are getting in trouble. My opinion in this case to stabilize the regulation of biogas for a long period. For current companies this create a certainty and keep them running.
Biogas isn’t always clean
Bigger biogas companies haven’t always the amount of waste needed to produces there target in biogas. And that’s where its goes wrong. They start to buy there feedstock from farmers or use farmland to produce it. This is competition with the food industry. Or they start with deforestation to use this land as farmland. And in this way biogas isn’t green energy. Europe started with limitation on farmland used for biofuels. 6 % is maximum of land that can be used for biofuels. In continents like South America our Africa there are still no rules for this kind of problem.
- Minister unveils mega floodwater holding basin (flanderstoday.eu)
The Flemish Environment Agency has just completed one of the biggest floodwater holding basins to be constructed over the past decade. Located on the Herk river in Stevoort, a district of Hasselt, the new basin is designed to reduce the risk of flooding the region around the river Demer.
“This basin will not only provide additional protection to Stevoort but will also help to reduce the danger of flooding in the region between Hasselt and Diest,” said environment minister Joke Schauvliege.
- Scheldt Quays project wins “green city” prize (flanderstoday.eu)
The government of Flanders has awarded the prize for outstanding green urban development to Antwerp’s Scheldekaaien, or Scheldt Quays project. The Scheldekaaien, an ambitious 20-year-programme of urban renewal along the city’s waterfront, was chosen out of nine Groen in de Stad (GidS) initiatives to promote green, liveable space in cities.
The jury singled out the Scheldekaaien as a “carefully considered and bold combination of ecology and recreation.” The prize includes a subsidy of €250,000.
Four smaller projects also won subsidies of €50,000 each: the Winge Valley in Rotselaar (Flemish Brabant), the Sint-Anna Park in Maldegem (East Flanders), the Sint-Walburga Park in Veurne (West Flanders) and the town centre of Vorselaar (Antwerp province).