Bosland will be expanded by 35 hectares

Hoge Kempen National Park in Flanders, Belgium at summer. Heath land among pine forest. Moor land. Beautiful european nature.

Sibelco, in collaboration with the Agency for Nature and Forests, is embarking on a remarkable journey to transform over 35 hectares of the Lommel Riebosserheide into a lush forested area. This initiative will see the creation of approximately 10 hectares of forest and woodland edges, 15 hectares of heathland, and 10 hectares of natural grasslands. Not only does this endeavor enhance the beauty of the region, but it also strengthens Bosland.

This visionary project spans a continuous block measuring 1 kilometer in length and 350 meters in width, adjacent to the Dutch border on the north side of Riebosserheide. The choice of this location and the diverse mix of woodland, dry heath, and natural grasslands was strategically made. "At this site, we can establish a vital natural connection for numerous species that are emblematic of Bosland, thus linking the nature complexes of Russendorp and Luyckgestel to the Blekerheide and Sahara in Lommel," say the initiators. "Riebosserheide, situated above the canal, was historically 'wasteland,' transformed into arable land just 60 years ago. Heathland and small drifting dunes were once its hallmark."

Sibelco and the Agency for Nature and Forests have previously collaborated within the European-funded nature restoration project "Life Together," which revitalized Riebos and Blekerheide until 5 years ago. "Bosland is synonymous with collaboration. This was true during the time of the European-funded Life project in which Sibelco also participated," explains Dries Gorissen of the Agency for Nature and Forests. "This is a partnership between Sibelco and governmental bodies on a commendable scale. A new piece of Bosland is in the making, and both our partner Sibelco and we take immense pride in this."

Conducting business in harmony with society and the environment holds great significance for Sibelco. Through this project, Sibelco contributes to nature, nature connectivity, and nature appreciation within the captivating Bosland project, all in collaboration with government entities such as the Agency for Nature and Forests and the City of Lommel.

Cathy Blervacq

VP of Sustainability

After months of soil chemistry studies, Sibelco is ready to delve into the physical aspect of the project. The excavation depth needed to create optimal conditions for top-notch nature will be determined, with consideration given to the historical phosphorus impact from decades of agriculture. Archaeological traces are also under thorough investigation, ensuring a holistic approach.

For Sibelco, this venture also fulfills a long-standing obligation for forest compensation. "The extensive preparation period reflects Sibelco's commitment to tailor solutions that accommodate the involved farmers. Replacement lands have been provided for every bona fide agricultural practitioner," they state. With this intricate puzzle solved, the actual groundwork can commence.

Bob Nijs, mayor of Lommel, remarks, "The collaboration with all stakeholders and the development of effective solutions for farmers were key in realizing this project. This exemplifies how dialogue leads to impactful achievements."

Anticipate a final design for this nature development before year-end, with permitting procedures planned for next year and execution slated to commence post-summer 2024.

Let's celebrate this harmonious union between industry, nature, and community!

Source: Het Belang van Limburg, edition “Saturday 19 & Sunday 20, 2023”

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