Unesco adds Sonian Forest to list of World Heritage

The Sonian Forest on the outskirts of Brussels has been added to Unesco’s World Heritage List. The decision was made last week at a Unesco conference in Krakow, Poland.

“The World Heritage Committee recognised the forest because it represents an example of the extraordinary evolution of the beech ecosystem since the last Ice Age,” minister-president Geert Bourgeois and environment minister Joke Schauvliege said in a joint statement.

Ten years ago, Unesco recognised two virgin beech forests in Ukraine and Slovakia. In 2011, five forests in Germany were added to the list, which now also includes beech forests in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine.

The nomination of the Sonian Forest (pictured) was supported by all three of Belgium’s regions, all of which border the forest. However, the whole forest is not included – only about 400 hectares that are set aside as protected woodland, where no management is carried out.

“We are extremely honoured that the Sonian Forest has been recognised as world heritage,” said Bourgeois, whose portfolio includes heritage matters. Until now, all Belgium’s entries on the world heritage list – including beer culture and the Aalst carnival – have been man-made. “The Sonian Forest is one of the last remaining untouched parts of our territory, and is included as natural heritage.”

Source: Flanders Today