Nossegem pupils officially open the “Vliegbos” woods

In Nossegem, two classes from the Saint-Lambertus primary school have officially opened theVliegbos. The Vliegbos is an initiative of Brussels Airport Company, the municipality of Zaventem, the province of Flemish Brabant and the Agency for Nature and Forests. Everyone - hikers, families, children as well as plane spotters – is welcome there.

A few dozen of pupils from the Saint Lambertus school officially ‘played in’ the Vliegbos on Friday. So far, the area had been known as the ‘Speelbos’, but the name has now been changed to ‘Vliegbos’, a name chosen by the more than 300 pupils of the Sint-Lambertuschool.

The Vliegbos is a joint initiative of Brussels Airport Company, the municipality of Zaventem, the province of Flemish Brabant and the Agency for Nature and Forests, to meet the demand for more recreational areas in a green environment. The Vliegbos woods feature a hiking loop and a cycling path. Brussels Airport Company has installed a dog meadow, picnic tables and benches on its property. For the children, there is a variety of playground equipment, including a balancing track. A fit-o-meter adapted for children will soon be installed in cooperation with Natuurpunt.

‘Brussels Airport has long been looking for a meaningful use of the piece of land we own on the edge of the airport site. We are delighted that together with three other partners we were able to create the ‘Vliegbos’, where young and old are welcome. ‘One of the two spotting platforms of the airport will also be built here. Work will commence after the summer’, says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company.

The regional land use plans of the 1970's did not leave Zaventem with much green space. When the proposal came in to extend an existing woods and make it child-friendly, we responded enthusiastically. It is an extra opportunity for children and adults to enjoy and become familiar with a remaining bit of green on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. Additionally, this Vliegbos is really a textbook example of super collaboration,’ says Mayor of Zaventem Ingrid Holemans.

The province of Flemish Brabant, owner of two adjacent parcels, was also immediately won over to the idea of expanding the green area and making it accessible to all. ‘The Vliegbos is an absolute plus for the biodiversity of this urbanised environment. With the arrival of the Vliegbos, the land is given a useful purpose with an important social dimension’, says Tie Roefs, provincial delegate for the environment and sustainability. ‘With the support of the municipality of Flemish Brabant, the intermunicipal nature and landscape team planted trees and shrubs and laid out hiking paths. They will also continue maintaining the woods and picking up any litter, so that paths are walkable all year long.’

According to the Agency for Nature and Forests, the Vliegbos is a shining example for the rest of Flanders. ‘If it was up to the competent minister, Joke Schauvliege, every municipality will eventually have such a recreational woods. The woods is laid out in such a way that hikers and cyclists can easily find their way and are aware of the Vliegbos house rules. ‘We have done the necessary signposting in the woods and placed a simplified version of the rules here and there. If something nonetheless goes wrong, the citizens involved are insured’, says Marleen Evenepoel of the Agency for Nature and Forests.


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