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Belgium : Life Visbeek - Habitat restoration in the Visbeekvalley.

Project reference: LIFE08 NAT/B/000034

Duration: 01-JAN-2010 to 31-DEC -2014

Total budget: 4,243,249.00 , 5735175.35 US Dollar

EU contribution: 2,121,624.00

Project location : Vlms Gewest

Background: Until the end of the 19th century, the Campine ( Kempen ) region in Belgium consisted of a vast heath landscape. The intensification of agricultural practices and the afforestation with conifer plantations resulted in a drastic loss of the former heathlands, oligo-mesotrophic fen complexes and species-rich hay meadows. The Visbeek is one of the remnants of the heath landscape and the exceptional abiotic conditions in this valley resulted in the presence of many endangered Annex I habitats and associated rare and vulnerable species. The most important are Molinia meadows, alluvial forests, European dry heaths, inland dunes with open Corynephorus and Agrostis grasslands and Northern Atlantic wet heaths. The presence of oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters and oligotrophic waters containing very few minerals of sandy plains make the area of national and international importance. The valley is also home to a number of rare and threatened species, including the spined loach (Cobitis taenia) and pool frogs (Rana lessonae), both of which are listed in the annexes of the Habitat Directive.

The Flemish region has designated the Visbeek as part of a larger special area for conservation (SAC). However, the habitats in the valley are under extreme pressure, mostly from the threat of habitat fragmentation, as well as afforestation, eutrophication, intensification of agriculture and disturbances of the natural hydrology.

Objectives: The main objective of the project is the large-scale restoration of the habitats in the Visbeek valley, with the aim of securing a significant extension and improvement of the quality of the Molinia-meadows, heathland habitats, fen complexes and oligotrophic waters and alluvial forests. Sustainable grazing and mechanical management will be undertaken, with the involvement of local volunteer management teams. The project also aims to highlight the socio-economic potential of the area through, for example, the organisation of nature-oriented recreation.

Expected results:

The acquisition of 45 ha in the project area;

Restoration of c.102 ha of target Annex I habitats in the project area;

Restoration of 10 ha of Molinia-meadows;

Removal of pine plantations (on 10 ha) and nutrient rich top soil from former arable fields (on 14 ha) to restore heathland habitats;

Restoration of 4 ha of oligo-mesotrophic fen complexes;

The re-establishment of 7 ha of alluvial forests;

An increase in the populations of Annex II and IV species, such as Rana lessonae and Luronium natans;

Better visitor facilities and more information (brochures, leaflets, flyers) about the area.

country :Belgium

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Article Details
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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:4EUBL
Date:Sep 26, 2013
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