The beautiful Sonian Forest, located on the outskirts of Brussels, has been added to Unesco’s World Heritage List. This was decided last week at a Unesco conference in Krakow (Poland). The World Heritage Committee recognized the Sonian Forest because it’s an example of the extraordinary evolution of the beech ecosystem since the last Ice Age. Ten years ago, Unesco already recognized 2 virgin beech forests in Ukraine and Slovakia. In 2011, 5 German forests were added to the list and now it also includes beech forests in Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine.
The nomination of the Sonian Forest was supported by Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia because it’s the only Belgian forest that is located inall 3 of the Belgian regions. But not the whole forest is included; only about 400 hectares that are set aside as protected woodland, where no management is carried out. That’s also the case in the other countries, by the way.
“We are extremely honored that the Sonian Forest has been recognized as world heritage,” says Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois, whose portfolio includes heritage matters. So far all the Belgian entries on the world heritage list (e.g. our beer culture, Aalst carnival) are ‘man-made’. But the Sonian Forest is natural heritage: one of the last remaining untouched parts of our territory. Something that we can be very proud of!
Photo: Donar Reiskoffer/Wikimedia