Now that the environmental permit has been issued, all the lights are green to build an eco-product in Halle above the Brussels Ring at the height of Hallerbos. So the habitat of animals in Hallerbos is much larger. The construction will replace the existing bridge over the Brussels Ring. Not only animals, but also pedestrians and cyclists will be able to safely get to the other side of the forest. Business will start next year. According to current planning, the ecological product will be ready for use in 2025.
Flemish Environment Minister Saturn Demir: “Flanders is a densely populated region and has one of the densest road networks in Europe. To make way for roads and homes, nature in Flanders has historically been fragmented. Through the Flemish Action Program for Environmental Indigenization (VAPEO), we want to increase speed To reconnect natural cores and restore ecosystems. About five million animals are killed every year in our region, not to mention the human suffering caused by animal collisions. It is time to put an end to those questionable statistics.”
Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peters adds: “Environmental products and other defragmentation measures such as eco channels, electronic warning systems for wildlife and ecological networks are essential to improving road safety for humans and animals. VAPEO is a five-year rolling program that we update annually. In this way we respond effectively to opportunities We offer fifty million euros for VAPEO (Part One – Roads). This budget goes to preparatory studies and / or the creation of 15 works of infrastructure, support and communication tools. “
Hallerbos, managed by the Agency for Nature and Forests (ANB), is located south of Brussels on the language border. The Brussels Ring divides the southwest flank. Hallerbos is known for the stunning bloom of blue flowers in spring. With over 622 hectares, it is an important habitat for animal and plant species.
A large-scale ecological study commissioned by the Ministry of Environment revealed the presence of at least 275 animal species. Also remarkable is the huge difference in the number of animal species between the two sides of the Brussels circuit. This is because the ring is a major barrier to exchange, making the area ecologically vulnerable. Thanks to an ecological product, animals can move safely and increase their habitat.
For humans and animals
Preparations for a new ecological product on the site of the existing bridge over Vlasmarktdreef are in full swing. The visualizations already give a good idea of the future construction. It will be 65 meters wide and provide space for animals as well as for a pleasant recreation. A five-meter wide path for pedestrians and cyclists will be created on the southeast side. The remaining sixty meters are for the animals. The design states that they can move in peace. Due to the earthen walls about three meters high, they will not have big problems with road traffic. Trees that must be cut down for construction are given new life as a natural barrier between human and animal. The walking and cycling path curves towards the ecological product so that the wide approach area remains free of animals.
Ready to use in 2025
Now that the environmental permit has been issued, the building of the ecological product can take shape. At the beginning of August 2022, the Roads and Traffic Agency issued a public tender to select a suitable building contractor in the fall. Planning takes into account the breeding season between April 1 and June 30. Then it is not allowed to work intensively in the forest. That is why it is likely that works will start immediately after the construction holiday of 2023. In the first phase, the existing bridge will be demolished, and the entire highway will have to be closed for one night. Once this date is known, the roads and traffic will inform everyone. The construction of the new building will follow in a second phase. Roads and traffic will also monitor business. According to current planning, the ecological product will be ready for use in 2025.
cherry on cake
The eco-product build fits well with the Tree Marter plan, a fruitful partnership between Regional Landscape Pajottenland & Zennevallei, City of Halle, ANB and Natuurpunt. For years, Plan Boommarter partners have taken initiatives to improve nature south of Halle. They planted hedges, orchards and shrubs, created ponds and purchased strategic lands near Hallerbos. As a result, the forest has increased by ten percent over the past twenty years. Plan Boommarter also connects Hallerbos to the smaller forests in the area and thus strives for a cohesive green area of 2,000 hectares. The ecological product is the icing on the cake. Construction is also an important factor in the broader plan to develop Hallerbos, Zoniënwoud, Meerdaalwoud and Heverleebos as National Park Brabantse Wouden.
The Hallerbos product is the seventh ecological product to be formed in Flanders. It fits with the Flemish Action Program for Environmental De-fragmentation (VAPEO) which started two years ago. The works are funded by the European Union (NextGenerationEU) under the Flemish Resilience Project VV105 (Departitioning the Flemish Landscape).