No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

Nature and Wildlife


Email  •  Print

When it comes to sightseeing and its place on the tourist trail, Belgium is (next to being the beer and taste capital of the world) mostly considered a cultural, artistic and historic destination. However, the country is Roe Deer Roe Deer
© BeerTourism.com
also blessed with some areas of exceptional natural beauty which are well worth leaving the medieval cities for.

Although a lot of the country’s wild places have been sacrificed to development in this small crowded nation, what remains includes some exciting must-sees for visitors.

Belgium, like the rest of industrialised Europe, is waking up to the value of its natural environment now and legislation is protecting what remains and helping to re-instate what has been lost.

Check our page on the Geography of Belgium to learn more about the country's natural assets.


Conservation & Nature Reserves

Belgium has a conservation policy that has established several levels of environmentally protected areas. The 1973 Law on Nature Conservation instituted three main Nature and Wildlife Belgium © BeerTourism.com
types of protected land: Nature Reserves, Forest Reserves and Nature Parks. At present there are about 500 of these registered.

Some are state-owned but there are also privately owned and managed “authorised nature reserves” some of which are supported with government subsidies for their administration and management.

The Forest Reserves are forests (or parts of forests) protected for their distinctive or important indigenous tree species.

Nature Parks are areas governed by special arrangements designed to conserve the environment, the indigenous flora and fauna, the air, water and soil.

However, the beauty of these reserves threatens their survival as large numbers of visitors bring their own environmental threats. There is a further distinction between national nature parks and their regional counterparts which are overseen by on of the three federal regional governments: the Brussels Capital Region , Flanders or Wallonia. There is no common environmental policy for these three Belgian Landscape Belgian Landscape
© BeerTourism.com
authorities, so different conservation regimes are in force in different parts of the country.

Nevertheless, both collectively and individually, all three regions have taken strong measures to reduce pollution and protect and restore the environment.

Some long gone species, such as the European beaver, have successfully been re-introduced around the country and are starting to thrive once more.

The country also actively supports and implements several United Nations treaties and agreements on wildlife protection in its international dealings. See our Nature Reserves and National Parks page for more information.


Fauna & Flora

It is said that more than 20% of Belgium is still forested, and the country’s wide variety of habitats make it home to many species of birds, mammals and plant life. Yet in spite of Arctic Snowflower Arctic Starflower
© BeerTourism.com
all this greenery around a third of the nation’s animal species are seriously endangered and suffer from decreasing numbers. However, Belgium still has a rich bio-diversity and is a great destination (if you know where to go) for lovers of the great outdoors.

There are thousands and thousands of different kinds of plants, fungi and moss as well as more than 350 species of birds to be spotted. Gulls, terns and cormorants proliferate near the North Sea coast; while inland waterways support storks, ducks, geese and divers.

Buzzards, falcons and larks populate the open cultivated land while the forests and woodlands provide shelter and food for nightjars and owls. Belgium is a birdwatchers paradise.

When it comes to mammals you’ll find anything from seals to badgers and beavers to bats. The best way to go wild life spotting is with an experienced guide. Common Kingfisher Common Kingfisher
© BeerTourism.com
Most wild animals are very shy and a casual visitor will need to rely on luck to catch a glimpse of them, although animal signs, tracks and sounds can be picked up with just a little training.

For visitors who want to find out what’s hiding out in the woodlands, there are plenty of organised tours. This is a safe way to track animals and guarantees no harm will come to the hunter or the hunted.

Nothing in Belgium should cause too much harm, everything that was any real threat was hunted into extinction Wild boar Wild Boar
© BeerTourism.com
a long time ago, although, one should never underestimate the wild boar. Wild boar females are very protective of their young but even they are extremely unlikely to attack a person unless they are frightened, and only then in self-defence.

Visitors who see signs that there are wild boar close by should quietly withdraw as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you feel that you are close to the animal’s home or their young.

Of course most of what you will see when holidaying in Belgium will be domestic farm animals: pigs, sheep and cows are present in profusion! In rural areas, it is not uncommon for country roads to be blocked by flocks of sheep or herds of cows being moved from field to field or from field to farm.

Visit the Royal Museum of Natural Sciences to learn all about Belgium's natural history.


Wildlife Today

The forest is an absolute haven for different species of game, foxes, red deer, wild boar, lynxes and wild cats to name just a few. Many experts believe wildlife is now thriving in Belgium. Red Deer Stag Red Deer Stag
© BeerTourism.com
They point out that the forests contain more wild boar, red deer and roe deer than at any time in the last 500 years.

Some of these foraging animals have become so numerous that according to certain specialists controlled culling to protect woodland has some cases become necessary .

However, there is still plenty for conservationists to fight for. The lynx’s future is uncertain and some biologists are convinced the animal is no longer still resident in Belgium and sightings are of visitors from the German Eifel mountains.

Another presumed inhabitant - a newcomer - could be the wolf. The last wild wolf in Belgium was shot in 1886, Red Fox Red Fox
© BeerTourism.com
but since the 1990s Polish wolves have gradually been moving westwards into Germany.

In 2011 there were at least a dozen established wolf packs in Germany and solitary beasts had been spotted in eight other regions.

France now has around 200 wolves that crossed the Alps from Italy, spreading west and north as far as the Vosges Mountains. Since at one time these fine animals were fairly widespread in Belgian forests a comeback surely isn’t too far away.


Related Pages

Last_post

War Memorials and Cemeteries

Belgium has important war memorials and cemeteries honouring those who fell on Belgian soil during the Battle of Waterloo, WWI and WWII.[ more... ]

Ypres-flandersfields-14_1024x68

World War I

Belgium and World War One. The role of Belgium and the Belgian people in WWI.[ more... ]

Languages-belgium

Language Matters

Belgium has no single national language. In fact it has three: Dutch, French and German,[ more... ]

Antiek

Belgian Antiques and Flea Markets

An extensive guide to some of Belgium's most important antique cities, shopping areas and flea markets in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia.[ more... ]

Nature-reserves-belgium

Nature Reserves and National Parks

Nature Reserves and National Parks in Belgium[ more... ]

Wappers_belgian_revolution

History

The history of Belgium. A concise summary on how Belgium was founded and got to its present day form.[ more... ]

Diamant-5_1024x683

Diamond Industry

Information on the Belgian diamond industry and the historical link between the city of Antwerp and diamond trade.[ more... ]

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaovergave_opt

World War II

Belgium and World War II. The role of Belgium in World War Two.[ more... ]



Comments


You must be logged in to leave a comment


SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
Omer Vander Ghinste celebrates 125 years of brewing craftsmanship

KORTRIJK/BELLEGEM - It was in 1892 that Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste opened for business in Bellegem, a village near Kortrijk in West Flanders, close to the French border. Since then, countless... [ more ]

Brasserie de Brunehaut - In tune with the seasons

RONGY - In Rongy and all around it, spring is in the air. The fruit trees are in bloom and nature has put on its most beautiful face. I’m on my way to http://belgium.beertourism.com/belgian-breweries/brasserie-d... [ more ]

Westmalle Dubbel or Westmalle Tripel?

WESTMALLE - If you order a Westmalle you’re likely to be served with a Tripel. This is no coincidence as this strong blonde Trappist beer now accounts for 75% of the beer output of this http://belgium.beertouris... [ more ]

Amburon Belgian Craftbrewery - A new brewery in Belgium’s oldest city

TONGEREN - After a fifty-year wait the moment has finally arrived. Once again, the city of Tongeren can boast its own brewery and city beers. The story commences with the 2009 Coronation Celebra... [ more ]

Luc De Laet, the brewer's butcher...

ANTWERP - Why would a butcher open a store at a brewery? The question doesn’t throw Luc De Laet, the man who has done just that at the http://belgium.beertourism.com/blog/de-koninck-antwerp-city-brewery-experien... [ more ]

Wilderen_goud_225

More Beer

Wilderen Goud is a pure malt beer, quite fruity with an enjoyably dry aftertaste. Wilderen Goud was launched in July 2011 and is a robust everyday drinking beer, perfect after a w... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK