The target of 1,250 hectares of additional forest could be achieved faster than expected. This is the opinion of the Flemish nature minister Saturn Demir. With 644 hectares of suitable forest land, the Flemish government authorities already have more than 51 percent of the land needed in their portfolio a year and a half after launching their forest expansion plan. Demir warns that the other partners of the Forest Alliance, particularly the local authorities, still have a great deal of work to do.
Minister Demir takes advantage of Forest Week to evaluate the forest expansion plan she launched a year and a half ago. Within a year and a half we found about 1,000 of the 4,000 hectares of suitable forest land, Demir says. “This is the biggest effort to create additional forests. Finding enough grounds for afforestation. We still have to reach cruising speed, but finding 1,000 hectares in a year and a half isn’t a bad thing at all,” she adds.
The Flemish government (mainly Nature and Forests, Flemish Land Agency, Environmental Department) will take care of 1,250 hectares. Of this, 644 hectares or 51.5 percent are already within reach for afforestation in the coming years.
Local authorities in particular are still lagging behind
Local authorities, nature associations, and regional forest and landscape groups have taken care of an area of 750 hectares. Companies and private owners must account for 500 hectares. For most of them, new financial support also started in January, meaning they were only active for half of the previous planting season. Together they have about 330 hectares in their pocket.
With 8.1 percent or 61 hectares, local authorities in particular still have a long way to go. Demir invites them not to be discouraged and to take a lot of additional initiatives to ensure more forests in Flanders.
“Unfortunately, many cities are currently a bit behind. This is a shame, because we provide more than 4 million euros annually from Flanders to support cities and municipalities in their plans,” says Demir.
The minister will present the first forest markers to local authorities during Thursday’s forestry conference which succeeded in achieving additional forests during the previous planting season.
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