Description of the area
In the middle of the last century, a considerable amount of land in the Dender Valley was planted with poplars to supply wood for the match-manufacturing industry in Geraardsbergen. In this way, the wet soils proved still profitable to some extent. These poplars, however, adversely affected the biodiversity of the area. When reed beds are overshadowed, the reed noticeably retreats and the typical reed birds disappear.
Meanwhile, the match factories have now disappeared and Natuurpunt has been able to buy a large plot in the valley. Most of the poplars were cut and cleaned up. The result is a varied and natural landscape in which there is room for reed beds and wet brushwood.
Animals and plants
The Boelare water meadows are the ideal biotope for various bird species. The most unusual breeding birds are the water rail, the bluethroat and the common reed bunting. The canals, ditches and watering places for cattle, combined with the rugged vegetation and scattered trees and shrubs, form a suitable habitat for many dragonflies.
The blossoming hottonia palustris in the canals looks particularly stunning. It is teeming with toads and frogs. Various species of butterfly also feel at home here. The most striking species is the brown hairstreak, which lays its eggs on young offshoots of the blackthorn.
However, the rarest species that occurs in the area is a small snail, Desmoulins whorl snail, which is protected even on a European level!
Highlights of the hiking trail
The footpath first leads you through the centre of the area past wet brushwood, valley woods and a grazing area of meadows rich in species. The return journey takes you via a higher bike path from where you have a beautiful view of the large reed beds.
More info and hiking map: