A group of local and regional government organisations as well as nature conservancy groups have launched a plan to link together various green areas of land around the Sonien Forest to create a clear passage to the wood for flora and fauna.
The project takes the name “Vliegend Hert”, the Dutch name for Lucanus cervus, known in English as the stag beetle. The beetle is rated as “near threatened” in Europe by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is also common in the area between Halle and Leuven.
However L. cervus needs a wide natural area to thrive, which means it requires a passage from its natural area to the forest, eventually creating a green pathway linking the Sonien Forest with the Meerdaalwoud close to Oud-Heverlee and straddling the border between Flanders and Wallonia, and the Hallerbos, famous for its bluebell carpet.
That is to be achieved by a joint effort by the municipalities of Hoeilaart, Linkebeek, Overijse, Sint-Genesius-Rode and Tervuren, the province of Flemish Brabant, the Flemish government’s Agency for Nature and Forests, and conservation groups like Natuurpunt and Regionale Landschappen.
All around the forest are patches of green land of various sorts, including private homeowners’ gardens. That land will not be taken over in any way, but residents and other owners whose gardens could contribute to the pathway will be encouraged to give their property a makeover to make it more hospitable to wildlife.
A website has been created to explain the possibilities to owners, and to offer tips on how to go about becoming part of the pathway.
“The plan is to take that beautiful landscape, which is currently split up, and join it up together once more,” said Geertrui Windels of the Flemish region’s landscape agency.
“That way we can create a green ribbon joining together the three woodland areas.”