A view in one of Ghent's parks, Source: City of Ghent

Ghent has 20% more forests than it did in 1999

Ghent has 20% more forests than it did in 1999

According to the Alderman of Equal Opportunities in the city, this is due to a diligent and sustained green policy, aimed at helping the citizens

Yesterday, local authorities in Ghent, Belgium, announced that the city currently has 572 hectares of greenery, a 4% increase since the year 1999. Furthermore, the more valuable forested areas have grown by an impressive 21% in the same period.

The new data came from the city’s new Biological Valuation Map. This is a dynamic digital resource, mapping out the city’s green areas. The Valuation Map was created with the use of high-resolution aerial photographs and is absolutely essential for research and policy in the city.

Replacing lost nature

Ghent now has more than 1,000 hectares of forest and a lot of it is classified as either valuable or very valuable. Usually, forests with older trees are classified as very valuable, because they offer a lot more in terms of carbon capture and air filtration, as well as biodiversity habitats.

At the same time, according to the valuation map, not all areas have retained the vegetation they had back in 1999, most notably, the area around the port. However, there are a lot more new green developments in the city, that compensate for the overall situation.

Local authorities now want to adopt a new guiding principle when it comes to urban nature. They want to focus on preservation, as a lot of the species already present are biologically valuable. At the same time, they want to stimulate the spread of rarer local species. They plan to do this by mowing certain lawn areas twice a year, leaving room for wild seeds to take root.

Another important note is that the valuation map is freely available to everyone and people can use it when buying property. For example, they can discover whether a plot lies in the ‘very valuable nature’ area, which will ultimately prevent them from disrupting the ecosystem in it.

Astrid De Bruycker, Ghent Alderman for Equal Opportunities and Public Greenery was quoted in a press release, explaining: “Nature in Ghent is improving thanks to a long-term and sustained green policy: from a biological point of view, nature is more valuable, the total surface area is increasing, and we have a fifth or 187 hectares more forest than in 1999. We are achieving good results for the inhabitants of Ghent because more and quality nature means healthier air and nicer relaxation areas.”



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