The forest is an essential element of our land, fulfilling four major dynamic functions at the service of society: economic, environmental, social, and landscape functions. Today, the forest in Belgium accounts for 22 percent of the national territory, or 700,000 hectares, which are divided among the three regions of the country:
- 78 % in Wallonia, in the south of the country
- 21 % in the Flemish Region, to the north
- 1 % in the Brussels-Capital Region in the centre.
In the past 150 years, the area covered by forests has actually increased by around 25 percent. 58 percent of Belgium’s forests belong to private owners, with an average surface area of 2.5 hectares per owner and more than 100,000 owners. The remaining 42 percent of the forest is owned by public owners including the regions, the communes, the provinces, the public social welfare centers and church councils.
Forests in Belgium
- The Ardennes – a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges located mostly in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching as well into Germany and France.
- Croonaert Wood – a lightly forested area known for the Bayernwald Trenches, located in the municipality of Heuvelland near Ypres.
- Hallerbos – known for its bluebell carpet which covers the forest floor for a few weeks each spring, located mostly in the municipality of Halle, in Flemish Brabant and has also a little part in Walloon Brabant.
- Meerdaal – managed as a multifunctional forest with high quality timber production, situated east of Brussels and south of Leuven, on the loess plateau of Brabant.
- Peerdsbos – oldest known forest domain in Antwerp, located in the municipalities of Brasschaat and Schoten.
- Polygon Wood – a forest situated between Ypres and Zonnebeke .
- Silva Carbonaria – was known as the charcoal forest from the old-growth forest of beech and oak that created a natural boundary during the Late Iron Age through Roman times into the Early Middle Ages across today’s Western Wallonia.
- Sonian Forest – a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at the southeast edge of Brussels.
- Zitter Forest – known as the one of the last habitats of the wildcat in Germany, and located in the Eifel region in the German district of Euskirchen (North Rhine-Westphalia) and in the Belgian province of Liège (Wallonia)
- De Zoom–Kalmthoutse Heide – a cross-border park on the Belgian–Dutch border.