Meuse Valley River Park
Location:Valley of the Meuse, border between the Netherlands and Belgium
Area Type:Belgium, Netherlands
Type of protection:floodplains on former gravel excavations
Since 2005 the RLKM has started an integrated project called “Maasvalley” with a synergy between nature & landscape, tourism & recreation, education & perception. Within this project the emphasis lies on the preservation, recovery and re-establishment of the natural and landscaping elements.
- Habitat types: Lowland rivers, river banks, river forests (mainly softwood forests), alluvial forests including ash-elm forests and alder swamp forest, dry riverine grasslands.
- Keystone species present: beaver, tern
- Fauna (mega) species present: Galloway cattle, Konik horses, wild boar, fox
- Vegetation types present: Ranunculion fluitantis, Callitricho-Batrachion, Chenopodietum rubri, Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae, Sedo-scleratnhetalia, Arrhenatheretum elatioris, Lolio-cynosuretum, Medicagini-Avenetum pubescentis.
- Description: Before the Meuse was diked, now we seek to restore the river dynamics. By executing high water safety works, the processes that are essential for the typical natural values in the valley are brought back to life. Additional guiding elements are the herds of feral cattle and horses, deployed in new nature. Thus, the valley can grow out to become ecologically unique in the Benelux: a lingering and exceptionally natural and accessible river valley with a high attractiveness for eco-tourism.
- Aim: To develop the River Park into an 'ecolonomic' landscape: ecology and economy are not opposites here, but reinforce each other. Creating more space and scenic quality in the valley of the Meuse, and thus contributing to sustainable tourism, is of particular interest in obtaining our goal.
- Vision: Our main focus is action! Doing what we can do today already, inspires tomorrow to new steps and achievements, always closer to the objective. The essential platform is to grow among local people and partners. This also strengthens the governance platform among politicians.
- Accomplished in 10 years from now: In 2025, the Meuse will be the life line between Maastricht and Kinrooi of a cross-border River Park covering approximately 15 000 ha, of which 2500 ha wild nature.
- Uniqueness: The cross-border River Park in Belgium and The Netherlands is one of the biggest and most successful projects on ecological river recovery in Europe. It's also the only part of the Meuse in Western-Europe that's not extensively diked and stowed (45 km on 950 km).
- Results so far: - Signing of Charter on 15 December 2008. Municipalities and province underwrite three important choices in favour of the River Park. <br /> - This also inspires the Dutch parties that are active around the Border Meuse for a similar joint venture agreement.<br /> - From a 150 ha nature reserve to 650 ha between 2006 and 2011. Nature associations Natuurpunt and Limburgs Landschap's management creates more biodiversity. <br /> - The 'Maas in Beeld' study clearly demonstrates this. Example of Kerkeweerd where 72 threatened plant species are growing again. <br /> - NV De Scheepvaart, the river manager, is continuing its large-scale works to prevent flooding and in doing so is creating many unexpected opportunities for nature development. The result is invaluable for the River Park. The Bilateral Dutch-Flemish Meuse committee co-ordinates these high water safety works. On an executive level we also often meet and work with nature associations and other authorities. <br /> - The restructuring committee - a committee appointed by law that is authorized for the restructuring of gravel pits - for years worked on the landscape restructuring and finish of large gravel extraction areas. Today, these sites are essential nature centers in the Meuse Valley River Park. This was made possible by the gravel taxes the government imposed on gravel companies. <br /> - A few large-scale projects for the development of new nature are under development on both sides of the river. The gravel that is excavated during these operations has to make this financially feasible.
- Flagship species: Otter
- Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Other, Recreational activities, Research
- Inspirational value: In this area, the river Meuse sets the boundary between Holland and Flanders. When the river leaves the Ardennes, it enters this region and becomes a lowland river without any dams, which is highly unusual for Western Europe. Here, the Meuse is allowed to flow freely over a distance of 45 kilometres. The project focusses on recent river expansions within the limitations of man-built winter dikes, giving the river more space and enabling it to influence the surrounding landscape. The river dynamics and the new nature which arise alongside the river, constitute the distinctive quality of the River Park. This, in addition to the recreational opportunities in the surrounding line of Meuse villages, lies at the heart of the project.
- Experience you would like to share: The development of a large scale project, in which nature development plays a central role and where, in a relatively small force field, a lot of interests meet.
- Experience you would like to gain: To create an administrative support for the reintroduction of mega species.