Belgium - Natagora (Wallonia)
Mission of the organisation
The aim of Natagora is together with Natuurpunt, the second Belgian BirdLife Partner, to protect the remaining nature in Belgium through buying and managing land, protecting species, running awareness programs for a general and specific public and lobbying local and regional governments.
Structure of BirdLife Belgium
Following the federal structure of Belgium, two BirdLife Partners are active in Belgium. In Wallonia and Brussels, the French-speaking region, Natagora was founded in 2003 by Réserves Naturelles RNOB and Aves, Société d’études Ornithologiques, to join forces on communications, education and conservation policy. Natagora is supported by 10,893 members. In Flanders and Brussels, the Dutch-speaking region, all activities are carried out by the NGO Natuurpunt. Natuurpunt has 54,312 members.
Natagora and Natuurpunt own or manages over 400 nature reserves, which cover 17,147 ha. The work of volunteers and the support of the regional government is essential for acquiring, managing and monitoring our nature reserves. The input of the volunteers ensures the involvement of the local communities in our projects. The BirdLife Partners in Belgium are very grateful for the crucial support by the regional governments, LIFE, Interreg and many other institutions and supporters.
Nature for all
Natagora tries to open all nature reserves to the public including disabled persons by guiding them along trails and to bird hides. All disclosed reserves are free of entrance fees.
Monitoring and analyses
Natagora has working groups on lots of aspects of nature study: birds, amphibians and reptiles, bats and other mammals, plants and insects. Volunteers and professionals are monitoring species and habitats in and outside our nature reserves.
Lobbying and Advocacy
The policy departments of Natagora are trying to influence the political agenda on structural planning, dune, forest and water management, agriculture and the protection of Natura 2000 and Ramsar sites. Volunteers form the heart of the coastal and the policy working group. We train and inform our active volunteers in the village councils about important nature laws.
Natagora and Natuurpunt run 10 small visitor centres near important nature reserves. Co-workers of our more than 150 local branches and antennas organise thousands of local activities as guiding in the nature reserves, biking, exhibitions and lectures. Both organisations try to involve pupils in the management of nature. This includes a lecture, a work day and a visit to the reserve when the results are there. Natagora, together with WWF-Belgium, runs the Aquascope Virelles, the new visitor centre of the Lake of Virelles, with video room, exhibitions and interactive trail into the nature reserve of 140 hectares. Many facilities (restaurant, barbecues and playing ground for the children’s) are available. Natuurpunt has a very active educational department and runs a museum at Turnhout.
The BirdLife Partners in Belgium, Natagora and Natuurpunt, spend more than 30% of their annual budget on communication with the members, volunteers and the general public. Species protection programs on Bats, White and Black Stork and Hamster aim to involve a large number of the general public in the protection of nature.
- Natagora & Natuurpunt organised a successful Garden Birdwatch weekend in February 2005. About 9,100 families participated. House sparrow remained the most common species and Blackbird the most widespread
- Natagora runs a successful co-operation project with farmers, resulting in 300 ha managed in a nature-friendly way
- Natuurpunt continues to promote the protection of biodiversity in villages and cities, brochures were produced to inform a broad public about swallows, swifts and other species
- Funding through EU-Life projects is an important tool to protect biodiversity in Belgium, the project of the “Damvallei” was the 15th Life funded project run by BirdLife Belgium
- Natuurpunt published in 2004 a distribution atlas of mammals in the region of Flanders
- Opening of the Aquascope Virelles, a new visitor centre in the Lake of Virelles nature reserve. More than 50,000 people visited the Aquascope Virelles during the first year of operation. In May 2004 the exhibition “Au Fil de l’Eau” opened at the visitor centre of Modave