Belgian nature reserve expansion under fire
Farmers are angry at the loss of 120 hectares of farmland.
The Flemish Farmers Union has described the Flemish Government’s plans to expand the Het Zwin nature reserve in Knokke-Heist as a big blow for the farmers that will lose land as result.
However, there is some relief that the Flemish Government has opted to expand the nature reserve by only 120 hectares rather than 180 hectares.
Nevertheless, the loss of 120 hectares is still a bitter pill to swallow for farmers already experiencing hard times as a result of the recession.
Furthermore, the Farmers Union fears that the expansion of Het Zwin could put hundreds of hectares of farmland around the reserve under threat from increased soil salinity.
The Farmers Union plans to make sure that as much as possible is done to prevent this from happening.
Het Zwin is a nature reserve on the Flemish Coast.
It is located on the border between West Flanders and the Dutch province of Zeeland.
The reserve was set up in 1952.
It has a surface area of 1.25 square kilometres within Belgium and a further 0.33 square kilometres on the Dutch side of the border.
Het Zwin is famous for its large variety of salt-resistant flora.
It is also popular with bird watchers.
The reserve is one of the few places in Belgium with a population of white storks.
In the Middle Ages the area was part of an arm of the North Sea that went inland as far as the town of Sluis (Zeeland).