The Annotated Ramsar List: Belgium


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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Belgium on 4 July 1986. Belgium presently has 9 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 42,938 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

De Ijzerbroeken te Diksmuide en Lo-Reninge. 04/03/86; Vlaamse Gewest, 2,360 ha, 50º59’N 002º51’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 4 July 1990, removed from the Record, 17 January 1994, replaced on the Record, 17 May 1999. Special Protection Area EC Directive; Nature Reserve. A shallow, freshwater lake resulting from peat-cutting since the 16th century. Composed of extensive reedbeds and scrub and surrounded by a wet meadow complex. The area supports an interesting flora including rare species, and is particularly important for breeding, staging and wintering birds; nesting species include ducks. The site includes a 60ha water-supply reservoir. Human activities include intense hunting and agriculture. Ramsar site no. 329. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Grotte des Émotions.24/03/03; Région Wallone; 3 ha; 50°24'N 005°34'E. Cave of Scientific Interest. Discovered in 1995, the site is an unspoilt karst subterranean cave system, some 250m by 100m in overall extent but comprising a very complex network of chambers and passages more than 2000m long and with three main levels (45m high). It presents a great variety of karst phenomena and features that are of important scientific interest. Little is known of any flora or fauna that may be present. Access to the site is strictly regulated and only research and management activities are permitted. A special committee for the management of the cave has been established. Ramsar site no. 1406. Most recent RIS information: 2004.  

Hautes Fagnes. 24/03/03; Région Wallone; 6,000 ha; 50°32'N 006°06'E. Nature Reserve, Natura 2000 Site, Biogenetic Reserve. Situated on a massif included in the transboundary Nature Park with Germany "Hautes Fagnes-Eifel", this largest peatland area in Belgium comprises 125 ha of active raised sphagnum bogs and supports rare plant and animal species depending on these habitats. The site plays an important role for the conservation of rare insects and birds; a significant number of threatened birds use the site for nesting (Tetrao tetrix, Crex crex, Circus cyaneus, Asio flammeus) or as a stopover and wintering ground during migration (Pandion haliaetus, Circus aeruginosus, Grus grus). Access to the nature reserve has been regulated to control the increasing pressure of tourism on the site (nordic ski, cycling) and hunting is prohibited in most of the site. Potential threats include atmospheric pollution caused by nearby industries, contamination of the underground water by the salt spread on the roads during winter, and drainage for forestry purposes. A management plan focusing on peatland restoration, maintenance of open fields, and conservation of the Black Grouse is in place; many environmental education activities are offered to the public. Ramsar site no. 1405. Most recent RIS information: 2002.

Kalmthoutse Heide. 04/03/86; Vlaamse Gewest; 2,200 ha; 51º23’N 004º28’E. Special Protection Area EC Directive; Nature Reserve, Landscape Reserve. Bordering the Netherlands, the site consists of heathland, acidic pools, marshes and woodland, on an extensive complex of stabilized inland dunes, along the Scheldt River estuary. Vegetation includes dune stabilizing species, various orchid species, dry and wet heath. The site is important for staging waterbirds and supports over 90% of the dragonfly species (Odonata) found in Belgium. Human activity is limited. Management measures include rabbit and gull control (to limit guano deposition), and sheep grazing to limit tree cover. Ramsar site no. 330. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Marais d’Harchies (Zone Humide d'Intérêt Biologique des Marais d'Harchies-Hensies-Pommeroeul). 04/03/86; Région Wallone; 525 ha; 50º28’N 003º41’E. Natura 2000 site; Nature Reserve. A complex of wet grassland and marshes fringed by reedbeds and fed by rainfall and groundwater. The site supports a varied flora including several notable species, as well as a diversity of breeding birds. Wintering and passage waterbirds include cormorants, swans, geese, ducks, shorebirds and terns. Maintenance of the reedbeds , regulation of water quality, and control of agriculture are the principal management objectives. Hunting in adjoining areas is problematic. Ramsar site no. 331. Most recent RIS information: 2007.

Schorren van de Beneden Schelde.04/03/86; Vlaamse Gewest; 420 ha; 51º20’N 004º15’E. Added to the MontreuxRecord, 4 July 1990. Special Protection Area EC Directive; Nature Reserves, Classified Landscape. Three separate intertidal areas comprising the last remaining area of brackish, intertidal flats and marshes in Belgium. A border is shared with the Netherlands. The intertidal flats support a typical invertebrate fauna. An important area for numerous species of wintering, staging and molting waterbirds. Human activities include recreation, sheep grazing and fishing. Surrounding areas are dominated by large industrial and port complexes and intensive agricultural land. The naturally dynamic character of the area is intensified by extensive dredging to maintain a deep-water shipping channel. Placed on the Montreux Record in 1990 because agricultural intensification led to severe nutrient-enrichment and lowering of the areas’ water table. Site of the first Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1988. Ramsar site no. 327. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Vallée de la Haute-Sûre. 24/03/03; transboundary Ramsar Site: 29,000 ha Belgium (région Wallone), 16,900 ha Luxembourg; total area: 45,900 ha; 49°53'N 005°51' E; Nature Park (both countries), SPA (Belgium). A complex of forested wetlands, acidic fen and peatlands, wet grasslands, reed beds, springs, rural zones and a barrage with a water storage area of 380 ha in the Luxembourg part. The site supports internationally threatened species, especially the otter Lutra lutra, the bats Plecotus auritus and Pipistrellus Pipistrellus, the badger Meles meles and the freshwater pearl mussel Margaritefera margaritifera. It shows a high biodiversity in both animal and plant species - besides the typical wetland plants such as Comarum palustris, Menyanthes trifoliata, Eriophorum angustifolium, the rare Epipactis palustris and Pedicularis palustris are present as well. The site is of stopover and nesting importance for many birds, notably the Black Stork, Ciconia nigra. Some 20 species of fish have been identified within the site, and a special construction exists to enable the fish to pass the main barrage. The barrage regulates the rises in water level and provides an important part of Luxembourg's population with drinking water. Pollution from intensive agriculture and the lack of water treatment plants have a significant impact on the water quality of la Sûre and its tributaries. Uncontrolled tourism activities such as water sports, leisure fishing, and cycling cause disturbances to the site. Authorities in both countries are collaborating closely on developing and implementing a joint management plan. Ramsar site no. 1407 (B) and 1408 (L). Most recent RIS information: 2002.

Vlaamse Banken. 04/03/86; Vlaamse Gewest; 1,900 ha; 51º10’N 002º44’E. Special Protection Area EC Directive. A beach zone and adjacent marine waters overlying submerged banks. The area is used by large numbers of wintering grebes and sea-ducks and provides important winter foraging and roosting areas for numerous species of shorebirds. Human activities include commercial fishing, water-based recreation, sand and gravel extraction. Ramsar site no. 326. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Zwin.04/03/86; Vlaamse Gewest; 530 ha; 51º21’N 003º22’E. Special Protection Area EC Directive; Nature Reserve, Classified Landscape. Sharing the border with the Netherlands the site, created as bird habitat in the 1960s, consists of saltmarsh, mudflats, creeks and artificial brackish pools connecting it to the North Sea. The mudflats support pioneer vegetation communities, the saltmarsh consists of numerous species of salt-resistant plants. An important area for staging, roosting, wintering and breeding various species of water birds. Ramsar site no. 328. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

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