Tri-Country Park. Intelligent integration with nature
The Tri-Country Park forms the ecological heart of the Euregion. It is located between four big national nature reserves: Eifel (DE) / HogeVenen (BE), Hoge Kempen (BE) and De Meinweg (NL). By combining water management and mineral extraction with nature development and recreation in this lovely but densely populated area, these nature reserves will be better integrated for animals, plants and people.
The Tri-Country Park is not a real park. Founded in 2000 as a cross-border initiative, it is also the name of the hilly landscape at the foothills of the Eifel and Ardennes areas that surround the towns and cities of the Euregion. The landscape has been determined for centuries by small-scale agricultural areas with picturesque concave roads, hedges and thickets. These are nestled between forests and stream valleys such as the Inde, Worm, Geul, Berwijn, Voer, Geleenbee and Jeker, whose rivulets flow into the Meuse.
Over the past century the Tri-Country Park has had to make quality concessions due to urbanisation, the intensification of agriculture and industrialisation. Thirteen nature organisations therefore joined hands to enhance the area's natural value through Habitat Euregio, a three-year project that was launched in 2010.
'We can raise nature management to a higher level by getting to know each other better', says Hettie Meertens, an ecologist at Dutch partner Ark Nature Development. 'With all the differences in legislature, organisational structure and social conventions, we can only understand about half of what the other is actually saying.'
She explains that gaps in the cross-border ecological network are being repaired to facilitate the return of extinct animals and to promote genetic exchange. 'Joining forces to study the landscape and exchange information promotes our understanding of how the area is used by its flora and fauna.'
An example is the wild cat, which is advancing northwards from the Eifel and Ardennes regions. Cameras have been installed at some 500 points in the Tri-Country Park to study wildlife migration routes. Endangered species like the hazel dormouse are also being studied, as well as other ecological indicators such as bird and bat populations, the freshwater pearl mussel and the European crayfish.
Water storage is also a hot topic in the Tri-Country Park. Flood prevention demands more space for the Euregion's many brooks and rivulets, which can be achieved by restoring inefficient farmland to nature. The desired wildlife corridors will be created by combining water management with nature development in the stream and Meuse valleys.
Meertens: 'Working intelligently together with nature will help us attain several goals at once: improving water management, connecting the nature reserves and enhancing the recreational value of the Tri-Country Park. People enjoy spectacular natural surroundings as an antithesis to urbanisation.' In this way, the connection between the Euregion's national parks will be restored.
According to Meertens, the challenge for the next century lies in integrating the power of nature and the modernisation of society to the benefit of both. 'We should not be hampered by borders. The experiences gained in Habitat Euregion will make it easier for us to launch new cross-border projects.'
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- Dreiländerpark - Drielandenpark - Parc des Trois Pays
- Reportage over het project Habitat Euregio
- Film über Nationalpark Eifel
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