In just under twenty years, 2,008 hectares of forest have disappeared in Wallonia, according to Belgian statistics group Statbel. In 2000, there were 496,929 hectares of forest and woodland in Wallonia, versus 494,921 in 2018, according to Statbel’s figures. That means 2,008 hectares of trees have disappeared in just under twenty years.
Luxembourg province was not spared with 745 hectares deforested. The province of Liège was also severely affected, with a decrease of 544 hectares.
Agricultural land has also been taken in the south of the country, going from 756,660 hectares to 733,881 (-22,779). The province of Liège is an exception with a slight increase from 158,498 to 159,332. Hainaut province was severely impacted (-13,350), as was the Namurois (-8,059).
This loss of agricultural land is of as much concern as the decrease in woodland, Hélène Ancion, land management specialist for Inter-Environnement Wallonie observed. “We must continue to have a variety of uses for the land,” she recommended. In contrast, the area covered by built-up land and associated has effectively increased: 257,252 hectares as opposed to 221,136 in 2000.
Ancion is also concerned about the disappearance of the small groups of trees found throughout the counryside: “Animals can make small leaps between them. It damages biodiversity. We have been heading for disaster for the last fifty years by sawing off the branch on which we are perched. We are inclined to use and abuse the fields and forests,” she concluded.