LIFE + Nature project FLANDRE (English)

LIFE + Nature project FLANDRE (English)

Flemish And North French Dunes Restoration is a joint nature restoration project of the Agency for nature and forests of the Flemish Government, the Conservatoire de l’Espace Littoral et des Rivages lacustres and the Département du Nord for the coastal dunes between Dunkerque (France) and Westende (Belgium), that is co-financed by the European Union.

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The exhibition is on display from 7 November to 14 December 2018 at the Lycée Professionnel Agricole de Dunkerque (Agricultural Vocational High School of Dunkirk), where it can only be visited by groups. Interested groups should make an appointment in advance with the school board about the time of their visit. The school management can be contacted either by e-mail to or by telephone on 0033 3 28 58 80 30. Guided visits are also possible on request.







The conclusions of Dunkirk

On 12, 13 and 14 June, 143 dune experts from 13 European countries (*) gathered at the premises of the Université du Littoral - Côte d'Opale (Dunkirk, France) to examine the measures needed to protect and restore biodiversity and the natural processes of coastal dunes and sandy beaches. This international workshop was organised in the framework of the French-Belgian cross-border LIFE+ nature project 'FLANDRE', which stands for 'Flemish And North French Dunes Restoration'.

The coastal dunes are home to a particularly rich biodiversity, make an essential contribution to the well-being of local people and tourists, and provide a nature-based and sustainable contribution to protection against rising sea levels. However, the quality and surface area of coastal dunes is deteriorating due to urbanisation, climate change, nitrogen deposits, intensification of agriculture and the emergence of invasive exotic plant species. In order to keep our coasts and dunes alive, additional measures are urgently needed.

The main conclusions of the international workshop are as follows:

  1. There is a need for close cooperation between experts and practitioners in coastal defence (sea wall) and ecology in order to develop coastlines that are resistant to rising sea levels, imitating as many natural processes as possible. An example of such natural processes is the transport of sand between the sandbanks in the shallow sea, the beach and the dunes, which together form a single ecosystem.
  2. Sand drift under the influence of the wind is necessary for a healthy dune ecosystem. After all, it is due to sand drifts that new dune slacks are created and that the dune soils are provided with the lime that is necessary for the preservation of the lime-loving dune vegetation. It is therefore advisable to maintain or restore un-vegetated areas of sand in dune areas.
  3. Invasive alien plant species threaten the vulnerable native dunes vegetation. There is a need for:
    - international knowledge building and knowledge sharing on methods to effectively control those invasive exotic plant species;
    - without delay, consistent eradicating of those invasive alien plant species.
  4. On heavily urbanised coasts, such as the Flemish coast, the coastal dune belt is spatially fragmented into isolated dune sites. The presence of densely built up areas and numerous roads between these remaining dune sites prevents the natural movement ('migration') of native animal and plant species from one dune area to another. As a result, isolated populations of plant and animal species typical of the dunes are at risk of local extinction. On the sea side, the beaches and, inland, the transition zones between dunes and polders at both ends of the urbanised zones offer the only open spaces in which migration corridors for dune plants and animals can be developed through nature-friendly measures.

The international company also paid a site visit to the cross-border dunes complex 'Dune du Perroquet - De Westhoek - Domain Cabour - Dune fossile de Ghyvelde' between Bray-Dunes, De Panne and Ghyvelde and admired the particularly great nature-patrimonial importance of this unique dunes complex. It has also been observed that the spatial and ecological cohesion between 'De Westhoek' and 'La Dune du Perroquet', as well as between 'De Westhoek' and the 'Old' dune belt of Cabour, is now being artificially broken up by roads, among other things, and that there is a need to restore ecological connections between the various subareas.

The representatives of the European Commission also indicated that the recent mid-term evaluation of the LIFE programme for the period 2014-2020 demonstrates the effectiveness of the LIFE programme in providing solutions to environmental problems. Based on the positive outcome of this evaluation, the European Commission has proposed an increased budget of € 5.45 billion over 7 years for the future LIFE programme 2021-2027.

The international workshop "Coastal Dunes and sandy beaches, Dunkirk 2018" aims to be the start of a renewed permanent international European network of experts in the management of coastal dunes and sandy beaches. Every three years, the experts should meet to share their knowledge and experience and to evaluate the progress at European level of the ecological recovery of coastal dunes and sandy beaches. With the numerous contributions, the organisers of the workshop hope to have inspired participants from 13 European countries to launch new LIFE projects on nature management and coastal protection in times of climate change and sea level rise.

The project partners thank the Laboratory of Oceanology and Geoscience (LOG) of the Université du Littoral - Côte d'Opale (ULCO) for its contribution to the organisation of the workshop and for making its staff and premises available for the workshop.

*We received representatives from Belgium, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal, Spain, the UK, Sweden and Hong Kong. Dune area managers, project implementers of other LIFE projects as well as scientists all exchanged knowledge.

Successful European Natura 2000 Day at Oostduinkerke !
On Monday the 21st of May 2018 no fewer than 40 interested participants appeared for the guided walk through the the Oostvoorduinen and the Hannecartbos in Oostduinkerke, with the focus on the achievements of the LIFE Nature projects FEYDRA (2002-2005) and FLANDRE (2013-2020), organized by ANB. There were participants from 4 member states of the European Union: Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany! This too is building a united Europe that also stands for more and better

© Luc David

    Second visit of the European Commission
    On the 22nd August 2017 the European Commission visited for the second time the LIFE+ Nature project FLANDRE. With the elaboration of a legal base for cross border cooperation and a legal status of transnational nature park, the LIFE+ FLANDRE project wants to provide a tool that is useful for transnational cooperation for the protection and management of cross border Natura 2000-sites in general. The representatives of the European Commission, Laszlo Becsy and Päivi Rauma, visited together with Ben Delbaere, of the external monitoring team NEEMO, that is supporting the European Commission, among other sites, the “Dune Dewulf” at Leffrinckoucke (France) where during last winter 11 hectare of scrub was removed and 5 pools dug out by the Département du Nord. In the newly dug out pools reproduction of Natterjack toad has already occured and on the areas cleared of scrub, plant species that are typical for the target habitats ‘humid dune slack’ (yellow-wort (Blackstonia perfoliata), marsh helle borine (Epipactis palustris) …) and ‘grey dunes’ (common milk-wort (Polygala vulgaris)) are already appearing.

    Photo: The delegation of the EC (Päivi Rauma and Laszlo Becsy) and NEEMO (Ben Delbaere) together with the transnational French and Belgian LIFE+ FLANDRE-team in front of a panel providing explanations about the project at the entrance of the ‘Dune Dewulf’ (© Herman Spruytte)

    The advisory committee met for the fourth time and visited the the works in progress of the large scale removal of scrub in the “Dune Dewulf” at Leffrinckoucke
    In November 2013 46 (27 French and 19 Belgian) representatives of concerned public authorities, scientific institutes, and non-governmental conservation organisations were invited to join the advisory committee of the LIFE+12 Nature project ‘FLANDRE’. 44 (27 French and 17 Belgian) persons accepted to join the committee. The first meeting of that advisory committee took place on the 7th May 2014 at Zuydcoote (France), the second on the 11th December 2015 at Koksijde (Belgium), the third on the 9th November 2016 and the fourth on the 13th of December 2017 at Zuydcoote again. During this fourth meeting of the advisory committee the attention of the 24 present members was directed towards the progress of the acquisition of land (actions B.1 and B.2), the preparation of the international workshop about the management  of dunes of tje 12th until the 14th of June 2018 at Dunkerque (action E.5) and the execution of the large scale removal of scrub (action C.2) and the digging out of new pools (action C.5) in the ‘Dune Dewulf’ at Leffrinckoucke.

    With support of the financial instrument LIFE+ of the European Community
    LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of the EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value. Since 1992 LIFE has co-financed some 4.171 projects, contributing approximately 3.4 billion euros to the protection of the environment and climate.