Smoking and bonfires will be banned permanently in all Flemish forests and nature reserves from Monday, Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir announced on Sunday.
Previously, Flanders had a colour code in place to designate bans on smoking or making fires with a yellow code in some areas. But that system is about to change now. "Flanders has so little nature, we must do everything to protect it better," said Demir.
Ban to protect nature
Demir pointed out that "drought-like situations " are becoming increasingly frequent in nature reserves in Flanders, which can " quickly lead to a risk of fire ".
It was already forbidden to smoke or create fires in the forest and in some of the nature reserves to avoid forest fires in code yellow, orange or red.
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The ban which will come into force on Monday is much stricter and more widespread. In natural areas covered by a nature management plan, forests and nature reserves, smoking and fires will be forbidden throughout the whole year.
A permanent ban is easier to enforce, according to Demir. The ban will take into account campfires and cooking in demarcated areas, where a coding system will be in place.