Flanders joins up Kempen farmland and nature reserves

Summary

An €11 million purchase allows several nature reserves in the north of Antwerp province to connect with agricultural areas, improving conditions for flora and fauna

‘An outstanding opportunity’

The government of Flanders has bought 289 hectares of forest, wetland and farmland in Mol-Postel, part of the Kempen region close to the Dutch border. The purchase allows a number of other publically owned nature reserves to be joined up, resulting in 1,050 hectares of uninterrupted, protected natural landscape.

“Buying the Mol-Postel domain involved a serious financial investment on the part of the Flemish government, more than €11 million,” said environment  minister Joke Schauvliege. “Because of its size and location, the purchase is an outstanding opportunity to expand Flanders’ nature reserves.”

The newly bought land is close to Postel Abbey (pictured) and connects with land in Koninklijke Schenking, Ronde Put, Koemook and Wurft that is already managed by the Agency for Nature and Woodlands.

The whole area is part of a European protected zone in which special conservation measures help protect vulnerable plant and animal species. This includes gradually replacing conifers with broad-leaved trees more appropriate to the landscape, and allowing fens and heathland to develop. This varied landscape should encourage woodland and heathland birds to nest and breed.

This is also the habitat of the smooth snake, an endangered species that is expected to benefit from having a larger connected environment in which to live and breed. The wildlife crossing built over the E34 motorway performs a similar role connecting habitats around Postel and Kroonvense Heide, across the border.

Farmland in the area will be managed by the Flemish Land Agency, with farmers’ rights of occupancy guaranteed for five years.