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Belgium: Fire warning flags in nature reserves

Last modified: 2020-07-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: fire warning flag | nature reserve | kalmthout heath | hautes fagnes |
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Kalmthout Heath

[Warning flag]         [Warning flag]

Fire warning flag in Kalmthout Heath - Images by Ivan Sache, 1 June 2008
Left, smoking and fire prohibited
Right, central area out of bonds

The Kalmthout Heath is the Belgian part of the Border Park De Zoom - Kalmthout Heath (Grenspark De Zoom - Kalmthoutse Heide), which is crossed by the Belgian-Dutch border. The park is managed by a Bijzondere Commissie van Overleg en Advies (Special Commission of Consultation and Advice) of the Benelux Economical Union. The commission includes representatives of the Belgian, Flemish and Dutch governments, of the Province of North-Brabant (Netherlands), of the municipalities of Kalmthout and Essen (Belgium) and Woensdrecht (Netherlands), and of private owners.
The Kalmthout Heath mostly belongs to the town of Kalmthout. The beauty and nature value of the area was already recognized in the early XXth century by several people from Antwerp, including artists, who faught against the exploitation of the heath. Grouped in the Society for Natural and Urban Beauty, they required the protection of the area in 1913. Nothing happened because of the First World War. The Law on the Conservation of Monuments and Landscapes, passed in 1931, allowed the set up of the reserve in 1941.

Two rectangular warning flags are in use (if hoisting one of them is necessary, that is): the orange one indicates that smoking and fire making are prohibited; if the red one is hoisted, the central grazing area (for sheep and cows) is declared out of bounds.
A film clip (no longer available) from local TV station ATV (16 July 2006) shows a guard holding forth on the risk of fire, a panel showing both warning flags and an orange flag flying in the background.

Ivan Sache & Jan Martens, 1 June 2008

Nature Reserve of the Hautes Fagnes

[Warning flag]

Warning flag in the Hautes Fagnes - Image by Ivan Sache, 1 June 2008

The Walloon Region manages several nature reserves, the biggest and ecologically most significant of them being the Nature Reserve of the Hautes Fagnes (Réserve Naturelle des Hautes Fagnes). Founded in 1957, the reserve covers some 4,500 ha and is the core of the binational Natural Park Hautes Fagnes - Eifel / Hohes Venn - Eifel, crossed by the Belgian- German border.
The Hautes Fagnes are a very specific ecosystem, made of moors and peat bogs, which deserves specific protection. The main access to the reserve is the Baraque Michel, located in the municipality of Jalhay.

The Hautes Fagnes reserve is divided in several zones with restricted access (from permanent access to all to permanent reserve, that is no access to anybody). According to Ministerial Decree of 23 October 1975, Article 4 on the circulation in Natural Reserves, access to the natural reserve is unauthorized in case of fire risk or grave danger for the fauna and flora. In the forbidden areas, access to the path is locked with bareers, and a shield in four language (French, German, Dutch, English) explains the rules. Moreover, the forbidden areas are marked with a red pennant.
Since the red pennant is prescribed by Ministerial Decree, I guess that it can be used in all the nature reserves managed by the Walloon Region.

Ivan Sache, 1 June 2008