LIFE+ SCALLUVIA Symposium

0

What an unforgettable nature happening that was! A sublime symposium has crowned the Life+ Project Scalluvia and we enjoyed every minute of it. Let’s relive all the highlights.

Highlight 1: humorous play brings the story to life
Professional theatre company Code vzw broke the ice with the story of how Scalluvia began. Once upon a time, three ministers were having a meeting at a car park in Kruibeke about what was to come of the Polders. The minister of Tourism showed plans for an amusement park with a Ferris wheel and a dolphinarium in the creek. “Are you mad?!”, the minister of Safety said, “If we don’t protect ourselves from the storm surge, all those tourists will drown! We need to build a huge dike!” Luckily, the minister of Nature and Environment knew how to reconcile all three parties: “Let’s develop marvelous flood nature, where there is room for recreation.” All that was left was to come up with a sparkling name for their project. You can guess which one they chose, right?
Highlight 2: EU-commissioner gets blown from her seat

Not literally, of course. However, Anne Burrill was quite impressed with what she saw during the guided walk. “Usually I get invited to see what is going wrong, but here I was allowed to witness how well everything is working out!”, she mentioned. The Barbier guides and project collaborators of the Flemish Waterway and Agency for Nature and Forest gave it their all to pull off a complete ‘best of’-walk. A small train brought the groups one at the time to Coninckshofke, a local information point tucked away in the Polders of Kruibeke. The excursion continued by foot via the trail path, the fish-friendly weir and the alder swamp forest. During the walk, the groups visited Ervin the fish, the Lovers’ tree, and Arcade: Scalluvia’s three works of art.
symposium

During the evening’s beaver safari at the Rupelmond Creek, it were the bats rather than the beavers who stole the show. Near the Carp house, ranger Jean-Pierre Nicaise’s detector picked up sonar signals of pipistrelles and rare tenderloin bats!

Highlight 3: enthusiastic speakers follow the example

In the afternoon, enthusiastic speakers each illuminated the pillars of the Scalluvia project from a different angle. Bernhard Riehl came all the way from Austria to tell us about the measures LIFE Salzachauen takes to restore the alluvial forests next to the Salzach river. Just like Scalluvia, the water level in the woods and the water quality of the ponds were a serious challenge.Another parallel with Scalluvia was drawn by Julie Lebeau from the Walloon Natagriwal. That project intends to replace 100 ha of exotic vegetation with alder swamp forest and to plant 60 km2 of alluvial forest with the support of the Belgian Nature Integrated Project, BNIP. With all the experiences that were shared, she’s ready to move forward.Gerard Litjens from the Netherlands introduced the plan Space for Living Rivers, a project that combines flood protection, clay extraction and 12 000 ha of rich fauna and flora into one complete package, in which the local population participates.

Local participation happens to be the key to success for the monitoring platform ‘waarnemingen.be’. Anyone who has a registered account and a keen eye for nature, can report the animal or plant species they have spotted. Over 27 000 people have already shared more than 29 million sightings of 20 000 different species, and rising! Pieter Vanormelingen and the volunteers of Natuurpunt validate all that data,  turning this online platform into the main source of information for anybody who wants to report on, or learn more about, the presence of Flanders’ wildlife.

Highlight 4: rough region impresses

Many of those sightings happen in the Border Park Great-Saeftinghe, known for its omnipresent briny nature.  Obviously, the symposium crowd went to have a look there for themselves. EGTS Linieland Waas & Hulst and Province Zeeland are co-creating an embassy of sorts, where local gastronomy, tourism and economy can also flourish. Pieter Jan Meire and Anke Calon described the unique way they’re involving the surrounding region as shareholders who can help steer the final concept, instead of having it imposed on them.
Those who opted for a safe exploration of the area, followed a wooden path… while those more daring threaded fearlessly (more or less) through the mud, wearing fashionable rubber boots, under the leadership of splendid guides from the Zeeuwse Landschap. The visitors entered a bird monitoring station, where they met a volunteer who checks the nets every single hour, cataloguing the birds that are trapped within them. A procedure that can easily keep him up 24h during an especially busy day!
Those who opted for a safe exploration of the area, followed a wooden path… while those more daring threaded fearlessly (more or less) through the mud, wearing fashionable rubber boots, under the leadership of splendid guides from the Zeeuwse Landschap. The visitors entered a bird monitoring station, where they met a volunteer who checks the nets every single hour, cataloguing the birds that are trapped within them. A procedure that can easily keep him up 24h during an especially busy day!
Highlight 5: delicious delicacies quench hunger and thirst
A common ‘complaint’ heard from the visitors: “All this food is so delicious, it’s a shame we can’t taste it all!” The regional produce that were catered to the group were truly exceptional. The scenery, a castle with a large pond, made the food taste even better!
And now…the River Park
Kruibeke’s mayor Jos Stassen remembers it well, how initially there was a lot of opposition to the development of the Polders. But as doubtful people were back then, so proud they are now. He could tell by the enthusiastic turn-out every time the village celebrated an achievement, that the residents had changed their opinion about Scalluvia. The way the Polders combine safety, recreation and nature restoration, has brought people together in unanimous agreement.
Share.

Comments are closed.