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Habitats reconnected in Brussels forest

UNEP is raising awareness of a project to link up natural habitats in a 4,421-hectare forest in one of the greenest cities of the EU.


The Sonian Forest in south-eastern Brussels serves as the green lung for the city and contains a high level of protected biodiversity. However, the landscape is divided into several smaller entities which are separated by harsh barriers such as roads and railways.


The Belgian capital has in recent years worked hard to counter fragmentation of animal habitats caused by the Brussels-Luxembourg railway, including by building wildlife crossings and ecotunnels for both animals and pedestrians.


The LIFE+ OZON (Ontsnippering ZONiënwoud )project will now boost these efforts over the next three years by building or restoring more crossings and ecotunnels, restoring forest edges and redirecting recreation to less sensitive areas for example.


As a result, animals will be able to migrate without having to cross the existing roads - which will greatly improve their as well as road safety.


In the last month, three new ecotunnels were constructed under the ring road. Moreover, 18 existing tunnels were restored in order to provide animals with safe passage.


The EU is contributing half of a €6.7 million budget to finance the defragmentation of the Sonian Forest. The Belgian Agency for Nature and Forest, the Agency for Roads and Traffic and Brussels Environment, the cities’ Hoeilaart, Tervuren and Overijse municipalities and the Department of Environment, Nature and Energy of the Flemish government are also contributing towards the budget.


UNEP works across the globe to strengthen biodiversity conservation, such as by tackling drivers of degradation, fragmentation and loss of connectivity of natural habitats as well as the disruption of vital ecosystem services.


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