Three woodlands to be connected in Vliegend Hert project


A forest that has become fractured with housing development through the decades is going to be made whole again in the Vlaamse rand

Saving the stag beetle

Wildlife authorities are working on a plan that will see three woodlands in Flemish Brabant being connected through developed green space and gardens. The woods used to be part of one larger forest but became fragmented over time.

The woods in question – Meerdaalwoud, Zoniënwoud and Hallerbos – are in the Vlaamse rand, or belt around Brussels. They are spread over Hoeilaart, Sint-Genesius-Rode, Linkebeek, Overijse and Tervuren.

The project is called Vliegend Hert, the Dutch name for the Lucanus cervus, a species of stag beetle found in the area. Over time the three disparate woodlands will become one nature and recreation area, said Geertrui Windels, the chair of the Pajottenland and Zennevallei regional landscape agency.

The stag beetle has difficulties protecting itself because it moves so slowly

- Geertrui Windels

“It’s our intention to connect this beautiful forest area once again,” she told VRT. The project even involves residents’ private property, so the agency is working on getting them on board. “We will show them how much more dynamic and biodiverse their gardens can be.”

The project’s mascot Lucanus cervus is the largest species of beetle in Europe. The literal translation for the Dutch name for the beetle – vliegend hert – is “flying deer”. The name – like stag beetle in English –  refers to its antler-like mandibles.

The Lucanus cervus flies poorly because of its size “and so has difficulties protecting itself because it moves so slowly,” explains Windels. “So it’s important that we piece together these smaller woodlands in order to allow it to flourish.”

Photo courtesy