Case 13 - Landscape and nature management in an intensively-farmed area in Belgium
The project area “De Cirkel” is part of a comprehensive farm land consolidation project in which the reorganization of parcels enabled a more efficient agricultural activity in the area of “Jesseren”. The total project area (1825 ha) stretches out over 3 municipalities (in the upper catchment of the Mombeek stream).
Thanks to the regrouping of agricultural parcels, a percentage of the farmland will be developed into area for nature and landscape development (150 ha in total). This includes valuable grasslands, fragile nature in the river valley, orchards, small landscape elements (e.g. hedgerows), valuable roadside vegetation and erosion control. The development of vegetation buffer strips nearby streams will be beneficial for water-related ecosystem services as well as for biodiversity. Recreational opportunities will be enhanced with the development of a network of walking and cycling routes. Several partners will be involved in the management of this area (e.g. the Nature and Forest Agency (ANB), organizations involved in nature conservation (NGO’s), farmers, local businesses and schools).
The challenge will be to find efficient, sustainable and widely supported ways to implement and manage the natural elements in the agricultural landscape. Within OpenNESS we will mainly focus at:
- Increased societal benefits of the natural elements in the landscape for diverse stakeholders;
- Additional value from products derived from the maintenance of the natural elements (e.g. wood for energy uses, local marketing and processing of fruit from the orchards, reuse of residues of grass and hay from grassland and roadside maintenance, etc.);
- Increasing local support for landscape conservation by encouraging involvement of the wider public.
The case coordinators are Wim Vandenrijt (The Flemish Land Agency, VLM) and Ward Andriessen (a local landscape organization, Regionaal Landschap Haspengouw en Voeren), and the research will be conducted by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO).
Photo: Conservation of ancient high-stem fruit orchards in “De Cirkel”